My confidence was high after my seventh fight. After all, I ended a long lay-off with a good win! When our next promotion at the gym rolled around seven months later, we were eager and ready to get another fight with the same girl. BFC and Regimen Classic (a Rhode Island show hoping to expand) teamed up to host the Atlanta Regimen Classic at the gym during Memorial Day weekend 2015. The premise of that show was to highlight up-and-coming fighters, because “all legends started out as amateurs.” The Regimen team did a series of short interviews with some of the fighters, including me. (It’s a little cringe-worthy, but I’m ok with that…)
By this time, we had established production lists so that we could almost put on a show on auto-pilot: the supplies, prep work, volunteer staff, set-up and breaking it down afterwards, plus all the little details in between. It was all ready to go. Still, I put in a 12-hour day on Friday to finish up the Will Call tickets and supervise set-up volunteers while Terri ran around on last-minute errands. It’s a common theme for me: feeling busy and stressed about the production side of the show you’re fighting on isn’t the best scenario, but it’s doable.
At 9 am on Saturday, I weighed in at 120.6 lbs and then hurried to check the gym’s P.O. box to see if the medals for the show had arrived as promised by the supplier. Nope! I came back to the gym an hour later to unlock the front door and there were about fifty people waiting outside on the sidewalk. I remember that we did end up having medals for the fights, but I don’t remember how we got our hands on them.
David, Abel and I went to Waffle House for lunch and I will always remember this occasion because both guys ordered their meals and then added: “…and double everything.” They had to explain what they meant and convince our astonished (and elderly) waiter that, yes, they really did want that much food. In this small world, that waiter regularly visits the store where I now work and I think about this meal with a smile on my face every single time I see him.
After lunch I dropped the guys back by the gym and then headed home to take a nap. I came back at 3 pm to see the doctor, then went home again. (I lived really close to the gym.)
This was my first open fight.* I’d always planned on getting 10 novice fights before going open, but I changed my mind. In the time since this opponent and I last fought, she’d had enough fights to go open. So to get a match on this show, I could either fight somebody else (slim pickins) or I could go open to make the match with her. So I went open! This didn’t matter so much, but it did end up having a bearing on my tournament after this fight—which I’ll explain later.
I went into this fight with a deserved sense of achievement, but I underestimated my opponent and the focus I’d need. I believe I had more skill. I had won against her before, and I was going to win again. The thing is, there’s no such thing as an easy fight. Especially when you think you’ve already got it in the bag… I didn’t think I could possibly lose.
So, of course, I did.
I lost the decision, and I really don’t remember much about the fight itself. I do remember this: afterwards, Terri said she knew I’d lose and claimed she decided to let me fight as a “lesson.” First of all, that’s crazy-talk, because we never pulled out of a fight in five years (except for the time I fell down a flight of stairs). Secondly, this loss was a lesson about proper preparation, but it was also a lesson about the kind of trainer she was.
The loss brought my record to an un-exciting 4-4, and it was my first loss that I knew with absolute certainty that I should’ve won and had only myself to blame. While there’s no easy fight and no guarantees, some fights are definitely harder than others. In general, the ones I’ve lost have been harder than the ones I’ve won. Sometimes (but not always), winning comes with a certain ease that you see printed on gym t-shirts around the boxing community: “Train Hard; Fight Easy.”
Well, for this 8th fight, I didn’t train so hard and I didn’t fight so easy. Don’t mistake me: I didn’t train much less than usual or fight much worse than imaginable, but I didn’t give it everything I had, and that’s what cost me.
On a brighter note, the mother and grandfather of one of the kids I babysat were there cheering me on. I bet they can’t imagine how much that meant to me! The mom took this shot and later gave it to me on canvas as a gift:
They didn’t bring the baby to this fight, but she was able to come to a match when she got older. :)
* In amateur boxing, you start out as a novice and fight only other novices with 10 fights or fewer. You have to go open once you’ve had 10 fights, but you can choose to go open after 5. Once you go open, you can fight almost anybody in your weight class, whether they’ve had 11 fights or 211.