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When a football player misses an easy scoop by ignoring fundamentals and instead, showboats their way to a clanger, said player can expect a bit of spray from the coaches. This would be something along the lines of, "Nothing routine about making that play, it's why you're out here, you twit!"
And they would deserve it!
But while it may seem boring to merely grab the peanut and get the job done, it's getting the job done that keeps a player out of the spray and on the pitch. That's because playing the game isn't about looking as cool as possible so much as it is about simply playing the game the right way. Style points, when it comes down to it, don't count for anything, especially when they cost the team an opportunity to score.
And the same holds true in boxing.
How Fundamental are Fundamentals?
While it's true that a football player who clangs an easy play by being too lax or flashy may hear about it from their coaches and teammates, in boxing there is another type of sharp reminder of fundamentals being ignored: kissing the canvas.
In other words, you vastly increase your odds of loss by ignoring fundamentals, and it can get you hurt while you're at it.
But by taking a fundamentally sound approach to fighting, you'll stand the best chance of success. This means practicing, practicing, practicing the little things, no matter how well you think have them down.
There are many aspects of boxing fundamentals, all of which need your dedicated work ethic to pursue.
But notice we don't say "…dedicated work ethic to perfect?" That's because while it's important to strive for perfection, being perfect throughout your fundamental skillset is just out of the question. Nobody, no matter how long they're in the game, and no matter how much training they put in, will ever be perfect in every aspect of their performance. You may master many of your fundamental skills, though there's ALWAYS a weakness to work on, which is why you need to continuously focus on them.
It's like a concert pianist who, despite their many years of success at the keyboard, still sits down daily to work on the very scales they learned years ago when they first started playing.
So, Why Are Fundamentals So Important?
Let's put it this way: A perfect punch isn't a perfect punch without a perfect stance, follow through, and defensive positioning. In other words, fundamentals tend to work in unison with one another so that missing one means your 'chain' has a weak link in it. An uppercut you throw may be perfect in form from your waist up, though without a strong stance and footwork supporting it, you won't get much power behind it.
The same holds true with defence. Say you throw a right cross that connects with your opponent, but instead of then getting your hands back in front of your face, you drop them in celebratory anticipation of your opponent going down.
Now, what do you think is going to happen if your opponent doesn't go down?
Yup, you guessed it. Nobody's interested in passing on a wide-open opportunity, and if you've failed to ring their bell, that's exactly what they now have!
And this can be common when it comes to showboating.
But Isn't Looking Cool as Important as Being Cool?
When it comes down to it, a key fundamental of boxing is your mental approach, which needs to include a solid helping of humility for you to be successful.
But why is this, especially when we see pros such as Roy Jones showboating by doing things like dropping his hands, yet he still wins?
Well, let's start with the fact that Roy Jones Jr. has an unorthodox style that few have the talent to mimic. This includes dropping his hands to get his opponent to commit to their punch. He then, of course, needs to evade the punch so that he has an open shot at his adversary.
But this takes elite level reflexes, timing, and anticipation, especially since a competitor who's onto this strategy is then going use fakes and altered punching tactics of their own against it. This means you need to rely on your physical skills to compensate for any "missed tells" in the poker game.
And while there's always a chance you may have the elite-level reflexes, etc. necessary to develop such tactics, it's far more likely that you don't. Nothing against you or your abilities, but let's be real here.
So rather than sending your fundamentals packing in the interest of playing to the crowd, spend time on them each day. Performing your fundamental work should be every bit as important to your workouts as arriving at the gym and donning your workout clothes.
You'll be more successful--and better looking--for it!
Putting the "Fun" in Fundamentals
Whether on the football pitch or in the ring, fundamentals are as fundamentally important as it gets. Sure, you can ignore them and instead, try imitating your favourite fighter's flashy style. But without your favourite fighter's reflexes, DNA, and years of experience, you're likely to end up looking like human hamburger from the beatings you'd take.
But by taking the time to establish and commit your fundamentals to muscle memory and continuing to work on them each time you work out, you're building the foundation of what a good fighter is--a fine-tuned boxing machine. Sure, you may eventually feel as though you've "got it," and can now put your fundamentals on auto pilot since after all, aren't they like riding a bike? Once you've learned them, they're there, right?
Well, to a degree, yes, although here's the thing: A pro tour cyclist knows how to ride a bike, yet they work on their bike handling fundamentals day-in-and-day-out. In fact, it's conceivable that a bike racer could use stationary equipment to avoid riding altogether while getting into race shape.
But getting into race shape also means maintaining the skills to stay on the bike on descents, in the rain, and while elbow-to-elbow with others at 50kph. Not doing so is merely a recipe for road rash, NOT a podium finish.
The same holds true with boxing. Relying on your established skills without continuously honing them won't get you anywhere but on the canvas.