To answer this question correctly, I’ll first tell you what Boxing isn’t. It’s not about getting angry or “duking-it-out” with an opponent to get even or to hurt him even though it is, to a small extent, that. After all what fighter isn’t in this game to win or to defeat his opponent?  But it’s more, much more than that. Boxing is a sport predominately about a concept rarely, if ever, heard known as “disciplined aggression.”


Fighters don’t fight out of emotion but rather out of the highest degree of confidence, skill, talent and instinct. Also, they fight out of something called heart, which is a combination of willpower, grit and determination. In my opinion, of all of these attributes, the two most important are skill and heart. The reasoning behind this is obvious: If one doesn’t have the skill, then he’s simply in the wrong game. More important, however, is “heart.” After all, if a fighter can’t push himself mentally, if he can’t take it to a higher level in the toughest of times during a fight, regardless of his skill level, he’ll never amount to anything in this sport. And that has been proven time and time again in the careers of many well known fighters.


When one views boxing in the same context as one views the game of chess, you’ll have a better idea of what I’m talking about. What prevents a highly skilled competitor from trying to impose his will on his opponent is his awareness that his man ( opponent ) has the same tools of the trade as he. Granted, the opponent is well conditioned, trained and powerful with knock out power in either hand. But the key ingredient that many people overlook is the simple fact that he has a brain, a mind that is trying to outthink, outsmart you. In short, the opponent is trying to take you out of your game plan in order to defeat you. Similarly, the same holds true for the greatest chess players.


Boxing, then, takes on a different face and becomes a sport about creating opportunities, capitalizing on mistakes and taking advantage of situations as they unfold before the fighter.  The fighter finds himself working through the most primal emotions: anger, fear, anxiety and frustration.  Remember, all of this is processing inside a fighter’s head, and at the same time another factor is also at play: time—the progression of time throughout the duration of the fight. As a fight progresses (in later rounds), the fighter is absorbing more shots and exerting more energy in the process, resulting in his becoming fatigued. The fatigue factor is enormous in this sport because, as previously mentioned, it’s more of a mental game than a physical one. A fighter has both mental and physical fatigue working against him throughout the fight.  His brain is being knocked around in his skull, perhaps hampering or changing his thought processes especially when compared to its early-fight functioning. Additionally, in exploring the fatigue factor, one must also look at the final variable, which is the age of a fighter.  Boxing is a young man’s sport; a 32 year old fighter is referred to as an old fighter. We all know what aging does to our thought processes.  It slows them down, maybe not a lot, but just enough for an opponent to take the upper hand. It’s that mental edge over a fighter that can be the difference between victory and defeat.


I’ve been asked numerous times how boxing has changed over the past 50 years or so, and the answer is quite simple. Except for newer safety measures incorporated in the training equipment and the fighter’s protective gear, the shortening of rounds from 15 to 12, and the utilization of specialists such as nutritionists and strength coaches, not much has changed. It remains what it was, as in the days of old. So what is boxing? Boxing is the science of mentally multi-tasking on several levels simultaneously and displaying skill in an overt, disciplined and aggressive manner.  That’s what it’s all about.   Aaah, now you know what I’m talking about. In other words,

Cognition ( Thought ) + Skill + Preparation + Heart = Performance


and  why it’s referred to as…  The Sweet Science.

Jonn E. JaGozza

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