Do You Have What it Takes to Get Through the Match of Your Life?

By David Magnusson  |   Mar 13, 2020

I often use boxing metaphors. The same goes for this piece. I want to share some observations I made during a recent professional bout that link what happened in the ring to policing.  In my last article, I suggested that we look at 2020 as a 12-round event.  One poor round doesn’t lose the fight and one great round doesn’t grant you victory.  That reality played a key role in the fight I’m writing about.

The match I watched was between heavyweights Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury II. It was highly anticipated.  Bound to be a classic, perhaps to the level of an Ali-Frazier or Bowe-Holyfield.  The first Wilder-Fury fight was incredible.  Wilder almost knocked Fury’s head off in the last round and received a draw. This time, it was predicted Wilder would come out swinging and get Fury dealt with early. Of note was the fact that Wilder had gained some weight since the first fight, but Fury gained even more. It seemed inevitable Fury would come in sluggish.

However, sometimes things don’t go according to Hoyle, as they say. It was Fury who was moving and jabbing.  It was Fury who would smartly lean all his weight on to Wilder each time they clinched.  It was Fury who was hurting Wilder with punches while avoiding most of Wilder’s hard shots.  In the end, it was Fury who came to fight, with a solid strategy far stronger than anything Wilder could muster. Ultimately, it was Fury who stopped Wilder before the end of the seventh round.

All of this is true, but the perception is skewed. While evaluating the fighters and predicting a likely outcome, boxing fans made improper assessments of the combatants and their abilities.  Here’s why:

– Even though Fury was knocked down in the 12th round of the first fight, he should have won via unanimous decision based on his performance throughout the entire fight.

– People forget that after Fury got up after absorbing Wilder’s devastating 12th round punch, he chased Wilder around the ring, taking it to him hard for the final 30 seconds.

– Wilder’s power seemingly did not affect a much bigger Fury.

– People forget about Fury’s successful past and his history of overcoming odds.

– Although Wilder’s punching power is impressive, evaluating previous fights reveals the fact that a boxer with some power, who is cautious, can exploit Wilder. Fury did just that.

The Policing Correlation

As the police must be very realistic in how we assess the situation at hand.  A uniform, badge, and gun can only go so far. As Sun Tzu observed, if you want to win, you best know your enemy and more importantly, know yourself.  You must not underestimate your opponent, overestimate yourself and ignore the facts.  Clearly, Wilder did not give his opponent the assessment he should have.  Had he done so, he would not have walked into the ring before this fight wearing a 40-pound outfit that could weaken his legs, even before the fight begins, when combined by fear (which is normal) and adrenaline.  Fury, on the other hand, was carried into the ring.  Who had the advantage?  Who gave this some thought?

What is your strategy out on the road?  Surely you must have one. During this fight, Wilder lost much of his power by backing up. Fury capitalized on that and continually drove forward. Fury’s strategy was to neutralize his opponent’s strength. Wilder was punching off of his back foot, which nullified his advantage.  He had no plan to reverse that other than to land a hard right, which he was in no shape to do.

So, the question for us is how do we turn what may be someone’s strength against them?  How do we remain calm and calculated long enough for back up to arrive while the aggressor is expending energy?

Though we often never know who our opponent will be, since there is no press conference or weigh-in before our encounters, we must train for all possible opponents. We must train to face someone bigger than us as well as someone small and wiry. We need to be ready to face someone with a lot of power, someone with speed, someone who can fight with both their feet and hands. We must also prepare for someone who appears docile but may be trying to lure us into a fight.  We must train for the unexpected and out of the ordinary. For example, if you always train to fight someone who is a right-hand dominant fighter, are you also prepared to deal with someone who is throwing left-handed blows?

So, if it’s all about strategy, what do I do?

Truthfully, there is very little you can do about power.  You either have it or you don’t.  There is probably even less you can do about speed.  Some people are blessed with it, some aren’t.

But there’s a third prong that you can enhance to the point where it negates power and speed. It’s called endurance!  This is the one thing that you most definitely can get better at, all by yourself if need be.  It requires a great deal of obedience and a willingness to put yourself through some major challenges while overriding your brain while it’s begging you to stop.  It’s a physical capability and mental mindset that will keep you in the game as long as you need to be there.

The time to prepare for this bout is now.  If you haven’t been in a scrape on the street, consider yourself lucky. But wouldn’t it be good to know that you have that ability to sustain an attack, protect yourself, turn the tide if able, and do so without surrendering to fatigue?  There will be no referee to step in and give you an eight-count.  No doctor is sitting ringside. With that in mind, ask yourself if you have a strategy that will sustain you until back up arrives. Getting into a wrestling match is probably not recommended.  You’d want to stay on your feet.  So how will you do so?  Have you even thought about it?

Is it fair to say that even if you’re well trained as a fighter, your skill will be rendered useless if you can’t sustain?  Now is the time to think about this…not when you suddenly find yourself in a fight. Take the time to chart your goals and enhance your endurance.

Wilder knew his opponent and he still fell prey to miscalculation and lack of effective strategy and preparation.  You won’t even know your opponent until the fight has begun. Wilder felt he could rely on his explosive right cross to win the fight. He was wrong. Fury’s strategy countered its strength.  If you look to rely on any one thing, it isn’t going to end well, unless that one thing is endurance.

When all is said and done about the Wilder-Fury fight, Fury planned for Wilder better than Wilder planned for Fury.  Not knowing who you may be up against, at any given time, can you say the same thing?

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David Magnusson

David Magnusson

Magnusson is the chief of police for the Village of El Portal Police department. Prior to this, he was police chief of the Havelock (N.C.) Police Department. He also spent 30 years with the Miami Police Department, retiring there as a major.Magnusson is a graduate of American Military University with a Master's in Military history. Chief Magnusson also boxed as an amateur for twenty-six years. You will find his passion for history and boxing in many of his writings. Magnusson and his wife Rosa reside in South Florida, where they have five children and two grandkids.