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Bengal Bouts: Defending champion stresses mental strength

Brendan Bell | Monday, February 27, 2012

For the 44 remaining boxers preparing for tonight’s semifinal fights, the opportunity to fight in the championship bouts in Purcell Pavilion lies, tantalizingly and stressfully, just three rounds away.

As boxers progress in their brackets and recovery time between fights gets shorter, junior captain and defending 134-pound champion Jack Lally said the approach to training changes.

“There is definitely an element of strategy and preparation,” Lally said. “There isn’t a lot of time to exert yourself during the week, and so you need to shorten up your workouts and focus on technique. At this point in the season, more stress is put on mentally growing rather than physically developing.”

By the time the semifinal bouts roll around, Lally said there is a common thread between most of the fighters.

“I wouldn’t say that the quality of the fights gets that much greater, but it seems that the experienced fighters tend to win out,” Lally said. “They are the guys that have fought in the past and know what it takes to advance. Better boxers win, but with that being said, you see a lot more juniors and seniors than novices in these later rounds.”

Another benefit to being an experienced fighter is the ability to deal with increased pressure.

“There is definitely an added element to the fights now that there is only one ring for people to watch rather than two,” Lally said. “All eyes are on you, and especially the finals draws an enormous crowd. There is definitely a different vibe.”

Through all the intensity, though, the fighters have maintained their composure.

“People don’t get more anxious now in comparison to the preliminary round,” Lally said. “I think the earlier rounds had a more anxious feel because many of the boxers were fighting their first fight.”

Throughout the competition, the Bengal Bouts program continues to stay true to its mission by raising money for a Holy Cross mission in Bangladesh. Ticket sales are continuing, and Lally said the semifinals and finals will provide even more opportunities for the club to raise money.

“Ticket sales have been going well, every day people are still asking about the fights and the upcoming dates,” Lally said.

The club has made programs to be distributed for the final two rounds. The programs are another way to raise money and also give room for sponsors of the club to show their support.

“We will also be passing around a bucket for additional donations at tomorrow’s fights,” Lally said.

Lally, like several of the captains, is a returning champion, but he said he takes a similar approach to every fight and recognizes the quality of competition.

“I think that my weight class is very deep,” Lally said. “You can end up with three or four quality fights every year, and I think that is the same for a lot of the light weight classes. There are a ton of great fighters, so I go in preparing for every fight in the same way.”

Boxers will try to overcome their final obstacle to the championship round tonight, as the semifinal bouts will start at 6 p.m. in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse.

Contact Brendan Bell at bbell2@nd.edu