Hard Lessons in the Ring from 20 Year Old David
"In the red corner, from UNLV, David Bermundez!" After hearing the announcer butcher my name, I walked to the center of the ring and looked into my opponent's eyes. I was ready. I put in all the work and was trained by some top notch coaches
This was not the first time I faced somone who wanted to tear my head off. I had this fight all planned out. I was going to throw a few punches and feel him out. I was going to circle around my opponent, throw some jabs, and eventually drop the right hand. The hook will come later. And then the uppercut. Let's do this! I was confident as ever.
The fight was on...
It was around 2002 at San Jose State University. 20 year old David was standing across the ring from a tall lanky fighter from Santa Clara University. Nerves were racing, but I was going to beat this skinny guy. The bell rang and I came out slow and methodical. I kept my distance in order to fight the perfect fight.
And then...IT HAPPENED. Things did not go as planned...
Punches were being thrown at me from all angles. I tried to block them but a bunch got through my guard. I was off balance and backed into the ropes.
WAIT! THIS WAS NOT IN THE SCRIPT!
I punched back and landed some big blows. I heard screaming and yelling from the audience but could not make out the words with the exception of my uncle Silvio yelling, "Keep your left hand up!" After three rounds of rock em sock em robots action, he got his hand raised. HE WON! I could not believe it. I was devastated. I was mad. I was embarrassed.
Before the fight, I expressed to a World Champion mentor my nervousness of getting in the ring for the first time. I said, "Hey what should I worry about the most when I get in the ring?" To this day, I never forgot what was said. "You are always going to have something to work on. You will always have something to improve. You have to take each thing one step at a time. This is your first fight. For now, when you get in there, JUST THROW PUNCHES!"
DUH, I thought to myself. This is boxing! Of course I am going to throw punches! I took the advice and tried to understand the obvious. It was not until after my first fight that I finally understood.
Do not worry about the amount of punches thrown or which punches you should throw. Do not worry if the guy is tall or short. If he is a boxer or a slugger. If he is strong or fast. All of those concerns will come in time with more experience.
Throw and land as many punches as you can. Keep your hands up, elbows in, with your chin down. Bite down on that mouthpiece, and GO FOR BROKE! The judges are looking for the most active boxer who lands the most shots. PERIOD. Easy stuff to say, but not as easy to comprehend until you are actually in the ring.
I learned a ton and was humbled. I was a different fighter after that first fight.
I ended up getting a rematch with the same guy about a month later. It was a qualification bout in order to enter the Regional Tournament. It was another barn burner, with rights and left hooks being thrown with bad intentions. But this time, I took to heart what was said to me and learned a hard lesson. This time, I JUST THREW PUNCHES...and qualified for the Regional Tournament.