Losing takes the one thing a boxer needs: confidence

The art of boxing is a study of a lifetime, one which you can practise everyday but never fully master.

To me, that is the beauty of the sport. As a boxer, not a day goes by where I don’t think about or practise my sport and yet, it still amazes me how much there is to learn.

There are many aspects to boxing. One of the most important things is control. Staying in control, physically and emotionally, is key to winning any fight. In June, I fought for the WBC world middleweight title against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. It was a tough battle but in the end I lost control of myself, my opponent, and ultimately the fight.

Dealing with a loss is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It makes you feel like less of a man. In boxing when you lose a fight, you’re not just losing a contest, you’re physically taking a beating from another man. It’s humiliating. After losing the fight, I found it hard to look people in the eye. I remember for weeks, I didn’t want to leave the house or be seen in public. Losing in boxing takes away the thing that makes a fighter what he is: confidence.

Recently, Ricky Hatton came out of retirement to fight again. I can understand his desire to keep fighting. There is no better feeling than winning a fight and everything that comes with it, the recognition the feeling of power that comes with beating a rival. For most fighters it’s hard to walk away from that and boxing history is littered with ill-advised comebacks.

After three and a half years out of the ring, it was always going to be hard for Hatton. When others might’ve fought a hand-picked opponent, he choose to fight a very good boxer in Vyacheslav Senchenko and in the end, he came up short.

After my fight with Chavez Jr, I spent a lot of time reflecting. Where did I go wrong? What could I have done differently? I had to have a hard look at myself and how I prepared for fights. In the end, the answer was simple. On that night, I was not good enough to be champion of the world. For me, this sport is too hard to just hang around, I’ve always maintained that if I couldn’t cut it at the top, I’d pack it in. I was left with two choices — make changes and improve as a boxer or retire. I couldn’t allow myself to go out that way. I knew then that I had to a make change.

Up to that point in my career I had been based in the US, living and training with legendary trainer Emanuel Steward. I spent seven years with him in Detroit, training at the famous Kronk gym. In that time I had 30 professional fights, winning 28. I met and trained with some of the best fighters in the world, sat ringside at the biggest fights, even worked the corners for several world championship bouts. It was an amazing experience for a young lad from Limerick. Emanuel was a great mentor, I learned a lot from him both as a fighter and as a man. I wouldn’t change anything about the time I spent under his guidance but after the loss to Chavez Jr I felt it was time for a change. I had become comfortable in Detroit and I needed a new challenge.

I recently relocated to London to work with Adam Booth, a trainer I have long watched and admired. Adam is best known for training and managing David Haye and George Groves. He’s a very smart man and is very specific about what he wants to achieve from each training session. I am working hard with him, making changes to my fighting style, learning new things and rebuilding myself. They say it’s a test of a man to see what he does when he’s down. The desire is still there. I’m as determined as I’ve ever been. I know I’m better than I showed in the Chavez fight. I owe it to myself to keep going, keep improving.

I hope to fight early 2013.

I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring and back to winning ways.

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