You haven’t lived until you’ve unapologetically broad-jumped past a cute couple walking down the street in your neighborhood. They look at you like you’re crazy, and they might just be right.
But things that seemed important before you decided to step inside the ring with an elite professional prizefighter—things like not coming across as a crazy person in front of your neighbors—seem so much less important when you’re staring down the most arduous physical task of your life.
Jermell Charlo is excited to raise money for Corbin Glasscock, a six-year-old from Tyler, Texas who was diagnosed with bone cancer last month. “I believe in Corbin,” Charlo told me last week. “I know he can beat cancer.” But he also seems excited about beating up a boxing writer. I can’t say I blame him. There’s a few boxing writers out there that I’ve wanted to beat up, too.
Every day is drudgery for a fighter. I’m just over three weeks into my six-week training camp and I can see now why fighters walk around with scowls on their faces. It’s not so much that the business they’re in is mean. Rather, it’s that they walk around in pain most of their lives because of what they put themselves through.
Charlo calls it “torture” and it’s true. These guys torture themselves, not because they want to but because they have to. When the bell rings, everything is up to them. There’s no one else in the ring with them when they fight. They’re on their own. There will be no one with me when I step into the ring with Charlo either. I’ll be in there alone.
There’s a certain kind of loneliness in boxing that mimics the loneliness of life. I dig that.
Every day is difficult. I’m either up at Plex working out with Danny Arnold, a man who shows no remorse for the physical pain he makes me endure, or I’m running around my neighborhood looking like a lunatic. I’m in my garage doing burpees and pushups. I’m shuffling my feet up and down the driveway or running sprints past the mailman or shadowboxing in the dark.
It’s tough stuff but it’s worth it. Already, I am in the best shape I’ve been in since I was 18 years old. Already, I feel faster and stronger than I’ve ever been in my life. Our high school coaches said we’d give anything in our mid-30s to come back home and play one more down of football, but our bodies wouldn’t last one second doing it. In at least one case, those guys were wrong. I’m in better shape right now than I ever was back then.
Let me go back. I could do it.
None of that will matter against Charlo of course. Charlo has a wealth of amateur and professional boxing experience. He’s 23-years-old, going into the peak of his career and just now entering his prime form as a fighter. He’s as sharp a fighter right now as he’s ever been in his life.
I told Charlo I’ll be taking the week off after we spar to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. “Just don’t break my ribs,” I told him. “I have to be on a plane the very next week.”
Charlo smiled at me and promised he wouldn’t, but something behind his eyes told me I might have just given him a new goal.
But that’s boxing, and my broken body is better than a family’s broken heart. I’ll lose my fight against Charlo. Even if I were to somehow miraculously land a lucky punch, one with all my weight behind it, Charlo would just shake it off and go back to work. He’s used to it. That kind of thing is his job.
One TSS forum poster put it best, saying Gabriel Rosado hardly laid a finger on Charlo over the entire 12 rounds of their fight last year. What could someone like me hope to accomplish?
But the answer doesn’t matter. Because while I’m assuredly going to lose my fight against Charlo, Corbin doesn’t have to lose his fight against cancer. I’m donating my body to the beating of a lifetime. You’ll get to watch it on Boxing Channel. All I ask is for you to donate a few dollars to help Corbin’s family pay for his medical expenses.
It’s a fair trade.