Our reporter says there's less chit-chat in the gym as everyone is focusing on the big event in 10 days.
Our reporter says there's less chit-chat in the gym as everyone is focusing on the big event in 10 days.
There are ten days till Fight Night, and a sense of urgency at the gym to ensure that every person who's stepping into the ring on that day is as ready as can be.

There's less chit-chat and more reps, sets, and time on the bags. No time for the holding-out-the-arms for three minutes exercise at this point. Into the ring you go the minute you've done all the skipping.

I didn't work the bags too much on Monday because I wanted to save my shoulders for the fight. I hear we're the only ones who spar without the protective head gear. The young kid with the fast hands I'm sparring against makes sure I get a full understanding of this.

I immediately go on the offensive and keep him at a distance with my jab, but he adapts quickly. He begins to step under them and tag me good. I counter some of these with straight lefts of my own. He dances and I chase. He gets tired and I get him with a few up against the ropes. I get winded from punching and back off and let him have a turn at being the aggressor.

Every time I get tagged in the head Chucky yells at me to keep my hands up and my mouth closed, but it's easier said than done when you're already wiped out two minutes into the first round. It's hard to keep my hands up and even when I do, this kid is so damn quick.

The second round is more of the same. The pain and the yelling and the fatigue all meld into one sloppy flailing, teeth-gnashing attempt at self preservation. If it went to the cards at this point the judges probably would give the 'W' to my opponent, but at least I got a some big shots to his head and some more to his body.

Mr. Quickhands is too tired to go another round with me, so one of the trainers puts on a pair of gloves and steps in. Sean (a.k.a. White Chocolate Chip?) is about a head taller, and has about 60 pounds on me. Earlier in the evening he smacked around a trainee about my size so badly the guy collapsed to his knees at the end of the second round.

And after the kid I'm spent, I'm out of gas. A third round between me and a six-year-old would have been a war.

Sean goes easy with the blows to the head, (but he lets you know he's a heavyweight when he goes to the body) and dances around, making me the pursuer. He's pretty f**king quick for a man his size and I can't catch him with anything. He dodges jabs and my lefts and combos do nothing but hit his arms. To catch him anywhere takes formless, frenzied attacks, which leaves me open and he makes me pay.

At one point he hit me smack dead in the solar plexis. I couldn't take in a full breath for the rest of the round. On top of this, I'm so out of energy my punches are powerless love-taps that don't even break through his guard as he sits on the rope screaming "Hit me!"

Afterward, I ask Chucky if he's seen the guy at Police Gym I'll be fighting in front of hundreds of people on the 10th. All I've been able to get so far is his name. Chucky tells me not to worry, but when I press him about the guy's stance, he says, "it doesn't matter if he's left handed or right handed, I've seen the guy and he's not working as hard as you."

There are people at the gym and elsewhere that know me as "the guy from the paper." There's a measure of notoriety (and also taunting from my co-workers) that this column brings. But none of the stuff I write matters. Not one word. The only thing that matters is how tough your jaw is, and how much gas you have when you step into the ring.