Sparring - The Pros and Cons

Sparring, an art in itself. For years people would discuss gym wars in legendary camps such as Detroit's Kronk gym, headed up by the late great Emmanuel Steward.

What are the negative effects of sparring too much, is it worth the positives of gaining arguably invaluable experience as a professional? There are a lot of different components that go into creating positives from sparring.

I wear many hats in the boxing game, but one of those is a fighter. So let me tell you my stories. I've sparred some top-level fighters, some have worked with me some have not.

Exhibit A is Mayweather Promotions prospect Richardson Hitchins. One of the most talented kids I've been around in the gym. An absolute dog who spars everybody. We were discussing Josh Taylor as a world champion prior to the spar, and he left me a bit of a mess.

So what did I learn from it? I'm essentially a hard bastard. That's it, oh and Hitchins can fight. Aside from that, I learned nothing from that spar. Hitchins spars a lot but has a good defense, so he isn't putting too many miles on the clock unlike a lot of fighters who boast about having gym wars.

I've been in some rough places in boxing, cesspits even. One basement in the projects of a place I quite frankly wouldn't send my dog to for multiple reasons, most notably the identity confused people, constantly boasting about gym wars. What is a regular theme, all the fighters coming out of this imparticular camp end up having short, and brutal careers. I sometimes feel bad, but in reality, they bring it on themselves so it's hard to sympathize. If you're going to get your brain mashed, get paid for it with money, not Instagram likes.

Is there such a thing as too easy sparring? Absolutely. If you're beating up on fighters that can't fight back constantly you'll start developing bad habits and if you're having these types of spars your trainer is probably clueless and an idiot for allowing it to happen. The only way to make such spars valuable is by working on your mistakes. This is something I have done with the likes of Chris Algieri and Richard Commey. They've worked on certain areas of their game without hurting me, a natural featherweight, too much. A good trainer will find a balance for 'technical sparring', however, if you're at the elite level you do need more than that.

Getting punched the same way more than three times a week for free isn't good for anyone. Three times a week is more than enough and for me, I think twice a week is perfect with the constant transition between open and technical sparring. Sparring is about improving and giving you longevity within the sport. Getting your brain mashed up in pointless (and free) wars 3 times a week plus will only shorten your career. Not sparring enough won't get you to a level you need to be at, as when done properly, sparring is the best way to learn boxing.

My theory, two spars a week in an 8 week period before a fight. If you're doing 4 rounds, do two 6 round spars for example. Switching up between technical and open, with a month's rest after the fight. The most important thing in life is your health, so fighters should have respect for there's!