By Terence Dooley
Former British light-welterweight titlist Lenny Daws, cruiserweight WBO world title challenger Mark Prince and fledgling professional 154lber Anthony Milch, 3-0 (1), added a psychological edge to their training regimes earlier this month after undergoing some stringent physical tests ahead of their next fights. The trio travelled to Brighton University to meet up with Sean Ryder, the Boxing Mental Performance Consultant at Deliver Your Ability (www.deliveryourability.com), and impressed during their trials.
Daws, Prince and Milch were joined by Ian Burbridge, who trains Daws, Milch, Shaun Watt and Danny Donchev, and the tests were conducted by Richard Avery, Lee Jenkin, Jothan Hibbert and Alex Froct, MA and BSc degree students in Sport and Exercise Science. Ryder and Rob Harley, a Principle Lecturer in Sport and Service Management at the University of Brighton, organised the day to prove that traditional boxing training can be supplemented and measured.
Daws and co. were given the following tests: Functional Movement Screening (FMS) — assessment of ranges of motion, balance and flexibility, Hand Grip Strength (measurement of forearm and hand strength), Vertical Jump (a measure of lower body power using a jump matt), Skinfold Calipers (assessment of body fat percentage by using calipers at different sites on the body), Upper Body Arm Crank (measure of upper body power using an adapted cycle ergometer to measure peak power), Push/Pull Strength Rig (measure of upper body shoulder and lat strength by pushing or pulling against a resistance) and Punch Output/Average Power/Peak power test (three times three minutes on a heavy bag throwing jab, cross, hook combinations) — the aim of that one is to punch as many times while maintaining average punch power and peak power.
Finally, the athletes undertook a VO2 max Running test — using a treadmill and expired air analysis to assess aerobic fitness.
The results will be summarised in a report, and the fighters will be compared to other boxers and athletes who have undertaken the same tests. As you would expect, Prince, 20-1 (16), excelled in the strength-based tests and Lenny Daws blew his fellow fighters out of the water on the VO2 max test, which is only to be expected given his ability to negotiate the championship distance at a decent pace.
More tests will take place as the fighters come closer to their next contests and the day was deemed an overall success by its organiser. “While I focus predominantly on developing the mental performance aspects of boxers and coaches, it's vital to recognise that boxing is a physical sport, underpinned by the mental approach,” said Sean Ryder when speaking to BoxingScene.
“By understanding their baseline fitness levels, we can retest them prior to their next contests to show just how faster, stronger and more powerful they have become. This will then reinforce their confidence in their ability to outwork and outperform their opponent.”
“Physiological assessment can help in the development of the ultimate fighting machine,” added Rob Harley. “It helps the coach and boxer to determine which aspects of their fitness are good and which areas may need improvement. If performed on a regular basis it can help evaluate the effective of a training programme.”
The tests were given a trade seal of approval by Burbridge, who believes in adding new methods to boxing’s traditional training regimes. He said: “We had a great day doing the fitness test at Brighton University.
“I'm always looking for new methods of training to improve the boys' fitness and when Sean spoke about arranging this I was really keen. To test Lenny and Tony so early and precisely in their training camps was great to be able to do. We were tested from core stability, flexibility, a VO2 max test as well as punch power and volume of punching. The testing and explanation of results were extremely thorough, and as well as being educational it as a really enjoyable day as well.”
Daws came agonizingly close to winning the EBU title lasy year — he fought to a close decision loss to Michele Di Rocco in Italy in June — and the 35-year-old believes he is still in the title hunt due to his dedication to his fitness programme.
“I've always been renowned for my high level of fitness and it was great to be tested by the university in so many ways to see how fit I am even at this stage of my training,” said Daws, 26-3-2 (10). “They seemed quite amazed at my aerobic fitness, so I'm really looking forward to seeing how fit and sharp I will be come fight night.”
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