3/18 The eye of the tiger
The first time I started boxing was at the Boys Club and I was 12 years old. Back then, you put gloves on and you’re just swinging. You learn a one-two combination, which is a jab and right cross. Other than that, you’re throwing hooks, and it’s really wild hooks.
In 2008, I had surgery on my knee, so going into the 2009 season, I couldn’t do much running, and I worked with a Gold Glover named Angel Romero in Philly. I worked on little things — hitting the mitts, double-ended bag and a heavy bag. In 2009, I had a great season, my legs felt good, I felt more explosive. Last year, before I came to Spring Training, I did more sprinting. Everyone knows how I felt about my second half last year — I got a little bit tired. My whole thought process going into this year was to do more low impact stuff, save my legs, make sure I drop my weight and still be explosive. I talked to Hammerin’ Hank Lundy, who is a boxer in Philadelphia. He’s 19-1. The guy he trains with is Danny Davis. Danny Davis is also Bernard Hopkins’ trainer. Their gym is Joe Hand Boxing in Philadelphia. The strength coach there helped with my core work and kept my cardio up.I went there Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 o’clock, and I did my core for 30 minutes and then I went 30-45 minutes boxing with the speed bag, the upper cut bag, the heavy bag. We worked on mitts, worked on the heavy mitts, we worked on focus mitts. We also sparred a little bit and worked on the sticks for defense — they’re styrofoam sticks. If you don’t keep your hands up, they’ll hit you in the head with them.
The biggest thing about that was me being in the gym with other professionals. These are amateurs trying to become professionals, or professionals who are trying to make a name in the business. Just the mental aspect of being with these guys was big. To use a cliche, being with those guys, they have the eye of the tiger. It gave me a different sense of urgency as far as going to the gym and working out. Those guys get in, get out, and have to go work 9-to-5’s. It really got me mentally prepared for this grind. I’m a guy who always works hard, and everyone knows that. I think I can always better myself and step it up a little bit. Boxing, that thought process of being in the gym three minutes on, 30 seconds off for 30 to 45 minutes straight mentally got me right.
I worked with Danny Davis and also went to San Francisco and worked with Nonito Donaire, who is a 122-pounder. On Feb. 19, he knocked a guy out and broke the guy’s orbital bone and his jaw in a fight. I worked with one of his mitt guys on different techniques to be more explosive. We intertwined everything with my first steps in the outfield. We timed my right cross with swinging the bat, and throwing my right and bringing that back hip through. It was funny, I’ve always done baseball-specific training. The past couple years, this is the first time I’ve done nothing baseball-specific but everything transfers over to baseball.
Would I ever fight? No chance. I realized just sparring with the guys and trying to hit the guys, I play baseball. It’s like a boxer trying to come out and play in the big leagues. No chance. Not happening. If I trained for maybe a year, two years, I could do an exhibition fight. Like Mike Tyson said, everybody has a plan until they get hit. I don’t like getting hit.