Preparing for your first fight can be the most stressful moment of your life.
This might be the scariest thing you’ve ever done so it’s natural to worry about everything.
You keep checking your workout bag to make sure you didn’t leave your mouthpiece at home. People are texting you for the time and directions and parking information. You feel like some kind of wedding planner. And deep inside, you keep wondering if you’re ready.
Here is my list of final fight preparation tips so you can focus on your fight!
Fight Preparation Tips
If it’s your first fight, you’ll probably get almost no sleep. Some people will be on Youtube looking for last-minute tips. Some people are hanging out with friends to relax. Some people are at home in front of the TV. Others are shadowboxing all night.
I would recommend just shadowboxing and stretching in front of the TV. Put on a movie or TV show you like to watch and just relax. Then get to bed. There’s nothing else to do. All the hard work and training is behind you. Put all your gear in one place so you can grab it the next morning and go.
Important stuff you should have:
- boxing shoes, socks, shorts, shirts, sweats (so you don’t cool off after warming up)
- gloves, headgear, groin protector, handwraps, gauze, knuckle padding, 1″ white tape (sometimes called sports tape)
- bucket, Vaseline, band-aids, scissors, Q-tips, rag or towel (to wipe off blood, sweat, excess Vaseline)
- mouthpiece (DO NOT LEAVE THIS AT HOME)
- bottle of water (poke a hole on the top of the cap so you can use it as a squirt bottle)
- fruits (to eat after your weigh-in)
Friends & Family
Who’s gonna record? Who’s got your cellphone? Who needs a ride? Where are your family and friends sitting? Etc, etc, etc. Have somebody in charge of your family & friends so that you can warm-up without being interrupted. It’s stressful to warm-up when you keep getting texted by people who can’t find the place, can’t find parking, don’t have the address, etc.
Get warm and STAY WARM.
It’s time to warm-up, so you need to be hot. Wear sweats so your body can heat up quicker. Stay in your sweats after you finish warming up so your body doesn’t get to cool down. And keep drinking water if you find yourself sweating a lot. If you feel uncomfortably hot, GOOD!
It could be hours before your fight so it’s important not to warm-up too early that you end up cooling off and feel like your body is in rest mode before your fight. This can be more of a psychological thing than physical but it does make a difference especially for beginners. Start warming up when you have about 1-2 hours before your fight. After you’re warmed up, you can relax but make sure you move around a bit every 20-30 minutes.
Look up dynamic stretching on Google and do it. Move your limbs around, stretch everything. Start throwing punches. Shadowbox, hit the mitts, hit the bag, whatever you want. Skipping rope or taking a quick jog around the block is not a bad idea.
Drink all the water you need hours before the fight and keep urinating. Once your fight is coming up within the next hour, only sip water. Try not to have any water in your stomach during the fight, this can make you tired or nauseous (especially if you get hit in the stomach).
Same goes with eating. Don’t eat anything within the 2 hours before the fight.
Last Minute Fight Preparations
Ok, this is the final moment right before your fight! Your fight is coming up within the next hour and you’re basically ready to walk out.
If you’re not already wrapped up from hitting the mitts or hitting the bags, now is a good time. You can use the regular hand wrap method or use the pro method with all the extra padding and tape, etc. The pro method will give you extra protection and support for your hands and wrist which can be beneficial since you’ll be using small gloves. It’ll also give you more power for your punches.
Extra tip: put one layer of the 1″ tape around the wrist of your back hand to give you a little extra power for that cross. (A pro taught me this.)
Check your equipment. Make sure everything works. Don’t wait until the last moment to find out a strap broke on your groin protector and now you have to borrow someone else’s. Or that you brought the wrong headgear, etc. Find out who has your mouth guard, or better yet, keep it in your pocket.
Start putting on the Vaseline so your opponent’s punches can slip off y ou. The usual places are on the outside of your headgear, a thin layer over your forehead, eyebrows, cheeks, and chin. Have your coach put it on you. (Don’t be an idiot and get Vaseline in your eyes.) If you’re going to be fighting shirtless, you can also put some on your chest and shoulders.
Shadowbox with a partner
Have your trainer or a friend shadowbox with you. He should be throwing slow punches and let you slip and duck or counter in whatever way you like. If you know your opponent is going to be southpaw, then have your partner stand southpaw as well. If you know your opponent is going to be tall, have your partner stick his jab arm out and keep it in front of your face so you can get used to moving around it.
Keep your eyes on your “opponent” and prepare yourself to punch at a live opponent. This is not warm-up shadowboxing. You are conditioning yourself to fight.
Avoid talking about new strategy before the fight. This will only confuse you and keep you from doing what you’re good at, which is the stuff you’ve been doing all this time in the gym. Stick to what you’re comfortable with!
NO Pre-fight Mental Talk
STOP THIS SHIT! The more you talk to yourself, the more you psyche yourself out. It’s not a big deal. This is just another session in the ring, you might win and you might lose. All you can do is try your best and enjoy the replay footage later. Treat it the same way you would before a sparring session or before you hit the heavy bag.
You’ve been training for this moment!
Be excited to fight. Be ready to have fun.
Have any of your own great fight preparation tips to share? Share them below in the comments!
Thanks for this article very good, the main thing i say and do is just chill, drink little and often, but just chill, stretch, xbox , read whatever just chill, dont get all pumped for the fight then when its time to fight up, your so pumped you cant relax in the ring, then probabaly next day you end up being a bit ill as you’ve been pumped then the down happens!
so just chill !!!
Most people are (much) better in sparring than in a actual fight!
So you are right about no pep-talking and making the fight a different experience than a sparring session.
Hello. My question is not related to this topic, although I’ve been meaning to ask you this for a long time. I was wondering if you could explain to me, what is the difference between amateur and professional boxing. How it is estimated whether someone should be fighting on, say, Olympics, or on proffesional fights?
Amateur boxing is on a point system and with fewer rounds. It’s a little less skillful than professional fighting but I wouldn’t say that it’s devoid of skill. The styles tend to be different because amateur boxing has bigger gloves and headgear.
I agree with the no prep talk before the fight. Good job pointing that out most people think talking to themselves helps but IMO it just makes it less natural. Just get in their and do it and sty focused on what’s going on around you not on what’s in your head. Disisdaball
Hey Johnny, whats up? Cool article, you really answer a lot of my questions, whether its training or sparring. I got a question for you, I joined a boxing gym in my local town, and we train at a youth center, and its cool and all but, my coach does not (well for me anyway) allow a lot of the new school techniques that I learn from your website such as dropping hands to chest level when hitting the bags so I can focus more on speed and snapping my punches, slipping punches, and different techniques for all punches. He believes in punching one way, all the time, and just blocking. My boxing style is to punch fast and not necessary worry about power, to walk around my opponent when sparring (you know nice and relaxed), and I like to use footwork a lot. I guess you can call me a speedy runner always tagging you and moving. I like to use different techniques to punch, maybe it’s speed, or maybe it’s using more lat muscle to pop my opponent a little harder. I usually have a more relaxed stance (hands at chest level) because I am more about speed and footwork, but my coach does not believe in that, he believes in a more rigid, hard stance (high guard) and does not allow me to do things that I like to do or use my own style. Should I switch boxing gyms?
This is for you to decide. Every coach will tell you to practice keeping your hands up. Once you get to a certain level, he won’t tell you what to do anymore. What matters is that you win your fights.
Hey thanks brother. I forgot to ask you, I like to leave my front hand down for easier jabbing and getting out easier on escaping angles (back right and back left) got any tips for leaving the front hand down in a fight or sparring.
One tip…if you’re going to put the front hand down: make sure you maintain an offensive presence. You have to LOOK ready and BE ready to attack. Once you get too defensive, it’s easy for an opponent to jump behind you or jump over your front arm and bombard you with both hands from the side angle.
When are you going to post that article about the muscles one should work from the inside? You were talking about it on your grounding punching article.
Lol so I’m not the only one. 🙂 btw I think he called it core muscles.
I don’t have a set date for releasing this yet but I will get to it eventually.
Have you had to deal with officials and hustlers before a fight who treat you like shit? They really wind me up
I’ve never had this problem but I’ve seen it happen to many other fighters and even one of my friends. He kept it cool but man, we all wanted to kill the guy.
The article was very intuitive and well written out like usual , but how long have you been boxing & how many years before you felt extremely proficient or almost pro level in boxing ?
I’ve been boxing since 2004 and it probably took about 4-5 years before I felt really at home in the ring. I was always good but it took time to be comfortably good and to be able to really relax in there and have fun.
Oh my god, I read this through and I started getting all excited
I felt like I was about to get into my first pro fight. Pahaa
Thanks for the info tho!
I agree with you on the no mental talk i havent been in a boxing match yet but when ive wrestled the more i think about it the more nervous i get i just like to relax and take my mind off it until the match has almost begun.
I was wondering where you focus when fighting…ie: the chest…hands…do you ever look at where you want to hit…I just want to know your point of view? Thanks…
Hi Dale. Check out my guide called “Where to Look During a Fight“.
Ibaad ur rehman
Jhonny you are the man, man. Appreciate the above tips. I practice kickboxing (though I like MMA) at home by watching videos by some real kind guys like you. I love your ’10 Boxing Footwork vid. its too cool, thanx. And I got a Kickboxing tournament to attend next month here in India. l am preparing for it…need some Xtra tips from you -> [email protected] …………
As a Fighter, I respect you and the things you write for us is really the way it has to be.
Its so amazing that you respond to all the comments, Not many people do that i really appreciate it. I’m a 18 yr old beginner, from India.I practice boxing and muay thai, and i got my first bout 2 months from now. Is there any routine i could follow so that i can gain some quick weight. And the fact that everyone in the tournament im gonna take part in are well-experienced, keeps me nervous.Im not a hard hitter, But im quite fast. I would be really grateful to have a few personal tips from A prestigious fighter.
I’m a bit confused by what you’re asking for. Typically, competing fighters are looking to lose weight not gain weight. If you want to gain muscles, keep training hard and whatever you develop from that would be the kind of “weight” you want.
Good luck in your fight! 🙂
Thank you. It was helpful, and Im sorry for causing such a confusion., what i actually Tried to ask is that, i kinda lost some Kilos in the past few months Doing some heavy running and stuff.. But now my Coach has asked me to Gain a few pounds so that i can move up a few categories.
Isn’t the use of vaseline all over the body ILLEGAL? I saw the GSP vs BJ Penn fight where GSP was disqualified for his team using vaseline all over his body? I was just concerned on whether it is or isn’t? I know I mentioned an mma fight but I do not know much about boxing. I was just researching and looking over your fight because I want to be a better boxer within mma. Thanks.
I really don’t know about the rules in MMA. I imagine Vaseline would make a difference in MMA because it’s so much harder for your opponent to grapple with you.
I’m a 14 yr old boxer from Australia and I’ve fought before and I’m going in the golden gloves soon but I have one problem. I have the habit of when my opponent comes towards me and lashes out on me sometimes I decide to stand there and cover up then let them hit me and as soon as I find an opening I start throwing heavy ones and get back on them. My coach says its good sometimes because I do it well if my heads in the right minset haha but sometimes I just really need to get out of there and throw. I’m really fast and quick on my feet but I don’t use them enough 🙁 any advice or tips on how to use my footwork well or how to get out of a strong infighting situation?
THANKYOU !!! I need your help haha 🙂
It takes time to get comfortable. My tip is to let your hands go. Don’t wait for the right moment, don’t look for the right moment. Start throwing and then FROM THERE, you can start adjusting where they go. It’s hard to adjust what you’re doing if you’re not really doing anything in the first place.
oh man im a little bit stressed. i feel like i wanna fight tomorrow.very useful sit.
So Johnny, Ive been training boxing for a little over a year now and have had 8 fights with 2 loses. When I first started I was very hungry for the sport and felt unstoppable. Then my first lost happen and messed up my mojo. I have another fight coming up very soon and was wondering if you had any tips on how to relax and not have a adreilene dump before the fight. P.S i spare way better than my fights. Thanks for everything. Youre articles are great
Haha…I know this feeling. Try to rack up more fights. Don’t worry about the getting nervous thing. Keep fighting, more and more. It goes away and you get better after some time. Instead of putting so much weight and expectation on every fight….see yourself as going through a journey and that after X number of fights, you will be where you want to be.
Thank you, its very impressive that you respond to all of you comments. This websit helps me mentally more than anything else does. Thanks again
Hi i was just wondeing some times i hesistate to punch im the ring because i feel that it wont land im not sure why iv only been training for 3 months im sort of a beginner but i have power and good speed i just think that sometimes i hesitate because i dont think my punch will land on my opponent or he’ll rither slip pr counter it i need help please
Throw it…and then worry about the response later on.
khem br. chetry
Thanks a lot ! For your useful information . its really helpful . I it may help to improve my boxing very much .
Hi johnny im from india . Im going to have my first fight a few days late
r. I am a hard hitter but I dont have much speed. I am worried About. I want your help in increasing my speed…. plz help me!!! If you have time please mail me. My id is [email protected]….. please. Reply
I have a couple articles and Youtube videos on speed…check them out.
Good stuff, as usual! I am cornering my nephew in his first ever kickboxing fight tomorrow. I will be keeping these tips in mind.
I’m having a fight next day tomorrow. Any tips
I love reading all of your posts. There is one question I have about fight preparation that I haven’t been able to find the answer to, and it is this: How do we go about “tapering” our work-ups leading up to an amateur fight? For example, if we fight on a Saturday night, when is the last day that I should run, hit the heavy bag, etc.? I am in the Masters Division (guys over 35).
Thank you in advance for your reply.
good tips A1 stay bossin
Great tips for that final preparation. It’s definitely the last minute nerves that can make or break you in the fight
Nice article Johnny, can see you know from first-hand experience what you’re talking about. Got a kungfu tournament in about 2 days (full contact). Up to 7 fights that day, provided you dont get eliminated and become champ.
Figured I’d google some tips on what to avoid in the days leading up the fight.
Evan "Born Again" Boyd
Day view tonight at RiverSpirit Casino in Tulsa. This info helped alot
as part of pre fight preparations ie within the 1-2 hrs before fight would you recommend doing just mitts or just shadow bosing or both? I have a colleague who says you shouldnt be doing pads before a fight, only shadow boxing. in 25 years of boxing and coaching ive always done a few minutes on the pads after warm up and shadow boxing.
Wow great guidance thank you
Lots of great advice that I had no clue about. Thank you for this. I feel more confident already!