Amir Khan (Getty)Amir Khan (Getty) © Copyright

Hit your fighting weight

Pounds, kilos and ounces are valuable commodities in combat sports such as boxing. The heavier you are, the more weight you’ll have behind your punch, and thus the more your opponent is going to hurt from that power.

Gaining advantages weight-wise is a common sight these days, but has to be carefully moderated to prevent mismatches or potential injury. That’s why pro and amateur boxers alike are weighed in front of a commission on the day of, or the day before, a fight.

There’s little room for error during the weigh-in; if a boxer weighs in a few ounces or even a pound over the weight class’ upper limit, they can be heavily penalised financially, be stripped of any championship belt, or even have the fight called off.

Having said that, the limits can be pushed. It’s not uncommon for some boxers to weigh in bang on the limit the night before a fight, then rehydrate overnight and end up gaining more than 10kg.

This can have a huge difference on not just the force the opponent is subjected to, but the boxer’s performance itself. Get it wrong, and weight-drained boxers can feel weak and lethargic – two things that will contribute to a lower punch resistance.

We’ve asked light-heavyweight pro boxer Kirk Garvey (4-0) how he slims down to his fighting weight of 79.4kg (12st 6lb), and how he then rehydrates safely again in the days leading up to a fight.

In Training Camp

“I’ll aim to lose a kilo a week over a six-week camp. I usually walk around at around 87kg, then I’ll drop down to 79.4kg on the day of the weigh in.

“The best way to do this is obviously through your diet, but staying fit all year round gives you a good starting point. This means you can take a fight at shorter notice, too, as you don’t have to drain yourself in a short space of time.

“With a six-round fight for example, you want to be in a camp for six weeks, gradually bringing your weight down. The last three kilos are usually the hardest ones to lose, but you level out in the last week, and it’s pretty easy to maintain. That way, you don’t have to kill yourself a day or two before the fight to lose that last two pound, or even a few ounces.”

The Night Before

“If I’m weighing in a day before a fight, I can expect to put a kilo or two on in the next 24 hours. This is natural for me because I’ve been watching my fluids and food intake beforehand, and I have to make sure I’m bang on weight.

“A lot of fighters will just go to Nando’s if they have to put some weight on and rehydrate the night before a fight, but they’ll get sick if they’re eating loads to get the weight on! It’s OK if you’re near your weight and only going to put a kilo or so on; it gives you energy and it’s good for morale.

“I’ll have fish, a fillet of chicken or a sirloin steak for dinner. I like my steak rare – there’s something kind of animal-like about having it like that [laughs]. I’ll have it with a small portion of rice or pasta to go with it, to get my carbs into me. I’m always sipping water to rehydrate properly, too.”

On the Day

“The next morning, I’ll have a small bowl of porridge mixed half and half with water and semi-skimmed milk. I’ll add a squeeze of honey in there, too, just for a bit of sugar.

“Throughout the day, I’ll lightly snack on bananas and chocolate. I’ll have a tub of pasta with me, with fish or chicken, too, and if I’m fighting around 7pm, I’ll have my last meal around 1pm. I don’t want to get bloated or feel my stomach go before I fight, so I keep it light.

“Again, the key is rehydration, so I’ll constantly sip water with electrolytes in to make sure I feel fresh and energised. You’ll see some lads gulping it down the day of the fight, crash-rehydrating, and you kind of know it’s not going to end well.”


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