I’m aware that my ability to offer a technical analysis is way below expert level, however, I can spot things from a physiological perspective, which I believe may offer some insight into how a boxer might prepare their strength and conditioning.

 

On Saturday night, Anthony Joshua was tested against the extremely tough Russian, Alexander Povetkin.

 

Povetkin is known to be a very explosive and powerful puncher, something that he brought into the ring on Saturday night and had some success with against AJ – rocking him in the final stages of the first round.

 

However, at no point did AJ look particularly troubled, and I believe there was a very good reason for this – he was expecting an early and aggressive assault from Povetkin, and all he had to do was hang in there.

 

The less troubled he looked, which admittedly must have been hard to do with claret pouring out your nose, the more likely Povetkin was going to get frustrated and launch power punches, which is exactly what AJ wanted (and needed) to happen.

 

Here’s why:

 

The issue with power punches is that they rely on maximum power, which can only be sustained for a very short duration, since it is a huge drain on energy resources.

 

Unless you get an early stoppage or are totally dominant of your opponent, it will only be a matter of time before you find yourself in trouble.

 

One thing that was noted in pre-fight predictions, and that AJ and his team would have certainly known, was that the longer the fight went on, and the more Povetkin attacked him with power-punches, the more fatigued the Russian would get.

 

Additionally, fatigue will occur faster if power punches miss their intended target, since the body would have to expend a ton of energy decelerating the punch (and Povetkin did miss a lot of big left hooks).

 

Knowing this, AJ just had to stay calm, and wait for the right opportunity to attack.

 

That opportunity came in round 7, when AJ landed a powerful right hand and then seized the moment to unload some power punches of his own – ultimately scoring a devastating KO victory, which was made easier by the fact that Povetkin was in a fatigued state and unable to offer much of a resistance.

 

I know that a lot of critics have been quick to point out Joshua’s technical weaknesses and say that, based on Saturday’s performance, he wouldn’t beat Wilder or Fury – but I don’t think that’s really relevant, since I’m positive he wouldn’t use the same game plan.

 

AJ’s victory was a credit to his coaching team, who not only knew the right strategy to beat a very dangerous fighter, but also had a good understanding of basic physiology and created a solid training camp to prepare him for this particular fight.

 

What can we learn from this?

 

Pre-fight, it was said that AJ performed the highest number of rounds of sparring than he had done previously.

 

On reflection, it wouldn’t surprise me if this wasn’t to prepare for a long and drawn-out battle like he had against Klitschko, but more to condition him to remain cool against a very lively and aggressive power-puncher.

 

I mentioned in ‘The Boxing Strength & Conditioning Manual’ about the importance of not overusing lactate training methods, and this was a prime example of why – neither fighter was reliant on the lactate energy system in this fight.

 

Instead, the key physiological mechanism at play for AJ was a very well-developed aerobic system, which would allow him to retain his power output for when he needed it the most. 

 

Yes, anyone with just the slightest understand of human physiology will know that power production is produced under anaerobic conditions i.e. intense, short-duration and with zero oxygen requirement, however, it is the aerobic system that allows for the replenishment of the anaerobic pathways and therefore the ability to sustain power output over time.

 

There also might be a link between a well-developed aerobic system and an ability to retain good decision-making under stress – a pretty important factor in boxing.

 

Povetkin displayed tremendous power, arguably more so than AJ, but unfortunately for him, his inability to retain it over time cost him.

 

I don’t have a clue what went on in either boxer’s training camp, but assuming that Povetkin included strength and power training as part of his preparation, I have a very slight hunch that, on this particular occasion, he may have benefitted from sacrificing a small amount of strength and power in exchange for better conditioning.

 

On the basis that he’s probably genetically gifted in terms of strength and power production, putting training for these particular abilities on hold would have unlikely had a hugely negative effect and his training may have given him a greater capacity to launch sustained and meaningful attacks on the heavyweight champ.

 

Key Takeaways:

 

  • Training shouldn’t just take the boxer into account, but also the fight that they are preparing for

  • The ability to retain power output is dependent on the aerobic system

  • Focusing on weaknesses, as opposed to strengths, is generally the best way to plan an S&C programme

 

What do you think – 

 

Did I miss anything?

 

Am I totally off the mark?

 

Let me know in the comments below – I’m always keen to hear your thoughts. 

 

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