By: Sean Crose
The training camp of a serious boxer is an extraordinary thing. Perhaps the most striking aspect of a professional fighter preparing for his or her next match is the sense of repetition one gets from the photos, interviews and videos of camp life. As Tyson Fury recently indicated, a fighter must embrace the mundane in order to be properly prepared once the opening bell rings. And so fans, if they’re so inclined, can look at, watch, or read about their favorite fighters as these individuals get physically and mentally ready for their next matches by running daily, doing reps, doing more reps, and sparring round after round after round.
There is little doubt that the monotony of it all must get grueling. Manny Pacquiao recently told Sporting News that a fighter should eat the same kinds of food throughout camp. In other words, even mealtime is a repetitive activity for the fighter in training. Pacquiao knows well of what he speaks. At forty, he’s been through enough training camps to fill two full careers…and he’s just wrapped up another one at the age of forty. For Pacquiao will be facing WBA world welterweight champ Keith Thurman this Saturday evening at the MGM Grand in Vegas in a bout that will be aired live on Fox Pay Per View.
Unlike Pacquiao, Thurman isn’t an aging lion. In fact, the Florida native is a decade younger than the Filipino icon. There’s other differences to be found between these two men. One is a high ranking politician. The other, a free spirit seemingly influenced by 60s American counterculture. One is humble. The other, flashy. Perhaps most tellingly, however, one has the reputation for being the picture of dedication. The other, fairly or not, has earned a reputation for sometimes being uninterested in the sport of boxing, the profession which requires so much discipline. At the moment, however, Thurman has come across as focused in the leadup to this weekend, extremely so.
Watching footage of the man in camp for the Pacquiao fight, one can’t help but feel Thurman is buckling down, embracing the grueling repetition, and truly pushing himself through the harsh monotony of a serious training regimen. Whether he’s tossing heavy balls, on an exercise bike or whacking the pads, Thurman does not appear to be a man only half interested in his craft. Perhaps his latest scare, a near shocking stoppage loss at the gloved hands of Josesito Lopez last January, led to a reinvigorated view of the fight game. Or perhaps the drive has always been there, in spite of long absences from the ring. He did get married and need to heal from an injury, after all.
The one near certainty is that Thurman will step into the ring to face Pacquiao on Saturday thoroughly prepared. He’s been keenly tuned in to this fight, even going so far as living with his aunt during camp (it should be noted she’s also his strength and conditioning coach, one with an esteemed background, at that). Whether the fire will remain in Thurman’s belly after the weekend remains to be seen.