The PBC Mailbag: Davis-Martin, Sparring & Self-Preservation

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As a boxing trainer, I'm sure you have a long list of fights that you like to breakdown and analyze. Maybe you're preparing for a fight and, to craft a gameplan, you look up an older fight to provide a blueprint for you ("We're gonna beat this guy on the inside, so let's study Duran's fight with Carlos Palomino"). What is your list of fights that you to love to analyze and return to for inspiration?

Bread’s Response: Very good question. Whenever I see that a fight is agreed to, I think of a historic comparison, whether the comparison is in the styles, situations, body type etc. For example, if I have a shorter fighter but he has the better feet and is the boxer facing a tall stalker, I will watch some Mayweather vs. Corrales. If I have shorter fighter but instead of moving away against the taller stalker, he’s the type to attack the stalker, I will watch Mosley vs. Margarito or J-Rock vs. Hurd. 

Now, if I have a fighter who can punch off the move versus a relentless pressure fighter, I watch Leonard vs. Duran II. If I have a pressure fighter facing a boxer-puncher, I watch Chavez vs. Rosario. I literally have coaches that will call me and ask me to give them a fight to watch from the past, that is comparable to their upcoming match up. 

I have always been a devoted observer of the fighter’s body language in fights. It tells you a lot. Self preservation is something you can’t control in ordinary life. Your mind will simply take care of your actions if you try to do something harmful, i.e. you will not be able to hold something really hot or to cross a street full of speeding cars. I made this small introduction to the question I have for you: Let’s assume a fighter’s gameplan is to attack. But his rival makes him feel a lot of respect once he starts responding with heavy leather. From an elite boxer’s perspective, is self preservation a stronger feeling than a gameplan? Is one’s well-being more likely to govern the boxer’s night within the ring than the corner’s plan? Carlos, from Hermosillo, Mexico.

Bread’s Response: Very good question! Listen up please. This answer to this reveals the level of fighter you have. If self preservation kicks in over the game plan, then the fighter is simply not good enough to execute the gameplan. His mentality won’t allow him to be greater than his self preservation.

Some fighters decide that going the distance is better than getting stopped. I don’t knock either choice, but the fighter who keeps trying to win and sticking with their gameplan despite the chances of him getting stopped is greater if he tries to win. That fighter should be held in a higher context.

 The greatest welterweight performance in history is Ray Leonard beating Tommy Hearns in 1981. Now imagine if Leonard said, I’m not attacking that hard punching killer. I’m going to move and box all night and if I lose a decision, so be it. He wouldn’t be a legend. He would just be a talented fighter who came up short. Self preservation is a real thing, it determines the level of fighters as they get assessed. Great question.

Hello Breadman, I am really happy that the mailbag is continuing. Is it really true that teams use NDA's to cover sparring sessions/camp? I actually consider Elijah Garcia to be the best  middleweight in the world currently. I think he's gonna beat everyone in that division. I see him a little like a better version of Tim Tszyu, who is a good fighter to begin with. I saw a video on him a while ago where I'm sure it said he was a Three-time National Amateur Champion and turned pro quite young. Kyrone Davis is this era’s Gabe Rosado to me, he will fight anyone. Whether the fight with Garcia gets rescheduled or not, I sincerely hope that he and you get the paydays you deserve.

Bread’s Response: Yes, teams do issue NDA’s in sparring because everyone runs their mouth about sparring sessions. And they also sneak and record the sparring. So if an NDA is signed it legally binds you to not disclose what happened in sparring.

Elijah Garcia is a talented young fighter but I think you’re reaching by saying he’s the best middleweight in the world at this current moment. He’s only 16-0 and he’s 21 years old. I’m not saying you’re wrong but Garcia hasn’t proven it yet. If he would’ve crushed Kyrone Davis, I would be partial to agree with you but Garcia didn’t fight and you can’t get credit for winning a fight that you didn’t go through with. So as of now, let’s see what Garcia does and more importantly who he does it against.

I really like [Davis vs. Martin] and I don’t expect it to be easy... Trainer - Stephen "Breadman" Edwards

Can you give and in depth breakdown of Gervonta Davis vs. Frank Martin? With 135-140 being the divisions in boxing now, this fight has major significance.

Bread’s Response: Derrick James will have Martin’s ear more so now because of James’ most recent performance as the head man in the corner. That’s a good thing. I think Martin will try to neutralize Davis’ power counters. Davis has a distinct ability to make opponents open up, then he counters them in every which way imaginable. Martin has to be smart when he leads and not fall into any big counters. 

Simultaneously, Martin has to find a way to score points and win rounds, without being too careless. Martin has his work cut out for him because Tank may be a better boxer than him and a better puncher. That’s tough to overcome but not impossible.

With Davis, I suppose he’s going to try to do what he always does: Open up Martin so he can light him up with a counter. Tank has a very fast processing mind. He adjusts very quickly on the fly. But it's important to note that this will be Davis’ first challenge against someone of Martin’s athleticism and skillset. It’s significant to note that because often times fighters are matched a certain way to make them look good. And when they face someone who doesn’t fall into that “make them look good” category, it should be amplified. Stylistically, I give Tank props for facing Martin. Martin has the skillset and tools to make him look bad and not score one of his highlight-reel kos. Let’s see if it happens. 

I really like this fight and I don’t expect it to be easy but I do favor Davis because I think he can win even if he doesn’t score a KO. I think he can win enough rounds by being a slightly better boxer than Martin. I make that assumption because Martin was getting outboxed by Artem Harutyunyan. Martin’s adjustment was to raise his volume and become aggressive. He showed a clutch gene and a good adjustment. But that may not work against Davis who likes when a fighter becomes more aggressive. So, Martin will need some early success neutralizing Davis. It’s important for him because if he has to attack Davis too early, he may fall into a trap. 

With the June 15th card being announced and David Benavidez and David Morrell both moving up to 175 pounds, do you think they fight up there or one possibly move back down to 168? Benavidez is right in claiming Canelo is ducking him, but he’s ducking Morrell the same way Canelo is ducking him. Who would you favor between Benavidez and Morrell?

Bread’s Response: It’s always possible to move back down in weight but it’s highly unlikely if the fighter is already big for the weight they moved up from. Benavidez and Morrell are big for 175 also, so moving back down is probably unlikely. But it does depend on their performances. If they perform well both will probably stay put. 

I think Benavidez -Morrell is a GREAT match up. I know Benavidez would be the favorite but I think this is a hard fight for him. It’s so close in my opinion I don’t have a pick yet. I thought Benavidez would fight Morrell earlier because Morrell was just getting his feet wet. But he’s getting better and more comfortable now, so the fight is getting harder for Benavidez because the gap in experience is closing between the two.

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