Some people take fights more seriously than others do, and most of all, they give a whole new meaning to the word. When we think of “fighting”, most of us will most likely have a negative outlook on this term, intending it as a conflict, as a tension between two opponents, and well, in a sense it is true. The main thing it’s just that this tension is not only meant to be interpreted as something evil, malevolent, or ugly…at least not by a boxer.
Boxers are athletes who need to push their bodies to the limit of their endurance and resistance, not only by working on improving their motor skills and reflexes, but also working to get used to higher level of pain and fatigue. Jim Davenport, a veteran boxing champion, has got the word “fighter” written all over his face. His body is marked by the years of dedication to this very challenging and demanding sport. His look is fierce, yet deep and introspective, sculpted by the many victories, but also by the many times he was the one to get knocked out.
In Boxing, you win some and you lose some, and either of these two occurrences is an important lesson for an athlete. Winning helped Jim become more self-conscious about his skills, but also respectful towards an adversary. Losing is a reminder that for as trained and powerful one might be, it is always vital not to lose focus and get caught off guard, even if for a faint fraction of a second.
When in a ring, there is no time to think. Jim has been doing this for so long that, like many other fighters, he developed a sort of “ring mind”. Jim’s “ring mind” almost works as computer software, kicking in the exact moment the bell rings. This “software” bleeds out anything that is not necessary: the crowd, the cold weather, the uncomfortable sweat…and allows Jim to see every significant detail with clarity.
Jim does not like to put a name on the adversary he’s facing: The other man in the ring is simply another challenge, another puzzle to solve, not just with brute force, but with agility and technique. When Jim is on top of his game, everything that happens within the opponent’s field is evident: Muscle movements and legwork can be easily predicted by his experienced mind, as well as endurance levels and motivation.
That night, on the match leading to the title qualifications, Jim was facing his strongest opponent since the season had begun, Texas pupil Matt Hickard. Hickard was an unknown boxer until a few years ago, but he somehow managed to get overhyped and jump on top of the national boxing scene, hailed by many fans and critics as a true prodigal child.
Jim and Matt were circling each other in the ring like sharks, who can’t stop swimming, not even for a single moment. It felt like they both were stuck right inside a hurricane and could not stop facing each other and spinning around…until BOOM! Matt felt a sudden stinging sensation on his left cheek. Jim had attempted such a tight and quick shot that the “prodigal child” could only figure out he was hit by a massive punch after he was on the ground.
Fear is a factor in this sport. Jim knew that one fast, greatly powerful hit was going to be enough to scare his adversary off, but it was also a gamble. He wasn’t going to be able to keep up such an intense rate for so long, so attempting to scare an adversary like that could have two outcomes: Either the adversary would simply lay down, refusing to get hit by another bomb, or he will continue to fight, realizing the psychological game and using it to his advantage.
Despite the critics’ claim of grandiosity, Matt was young and that hazardous technique was not a part of his repertoire. Fear got the best of him, as he spent the last 10 seconds of the fight on the floor, silently counting with the referee and wishing for the countdown to be over soon!