Pull-ups work the shoulders too and I do wide push-ups for shoulders too. Usually the first thing that gets tired in a fight are your legs and arms, including the shoulders, so I think it’s important to work them so that, in the later rounds, you still have that crispness in your shots.
I do a lot of pull-ups, dips and some light weights. I also swim. I’ve done dips and pull-ups since I was very young but when I turned professional I added the weights and the work in the swimming pool. I think swimming is one of the best exercises because it works every muscle in your body and builds your strength and stamina. I do the bodyweight work to build my stamina and strength so I’ll still be strong in the later rounds. I’ll do 25 reps three times, so 75 in total.
My conditioning coach has me doing a lot of things. He’ll put me on this machine where I’ll spread my arms straight out together in front of my face and grab two handles and have to pull my arms up and back with little light weights. It burns the back of your arms.
Usually at least three times a week… you know how a baseball player after pitching a hard game will ice their arm? Well I put my hands in an ice bucket and I’ll have my trainer massage my hands. It keeps them going real good. I put a big pad of gauze and wrap my hands really well with a lot of tape; I’m real careful because early in my career I had some problems. I wasn’t used to the impact out of headgear. In the amateurs you hit somebody with 10oz gloves and the headgear and at the beginning of my pro career I used to punch with my hands open a little bit because I was used to that from the amateurs and I used to hurt my hands with the thin gloves. Now I’ve learned how to lock my hands and my forearms when I throw punches so I no longer have those problems.
I do a lot of core work. I get on a sit-up bench and I’ll have to hold the medicine ball really high then lean back to where I feel uncomfortable, to the point it burns my core really bad. And I’ll have to sit there and do three sets of those – there’s no time limit, I just have to sit there until I can’t take it anymore. I have to hold the ball – which is about 12 or 15lbs – straight up until my body just burns to death! I also do sit-ups, leg raises where you have to hold yourself up and bend your legs up for your lower abs.
Of course running is the No. 1 thing and we do pool work and the leg press machine like Ricky Hatton used to do. I do duck-walks and squats. Everything is sets of 25. I swim laps up and under in the pool and my trainer has me holding the wall and kicking my feet, paddling as fast as I can for three minutes, so we do about five rounds of those.
Out of seven days I’ll work on strength and conditioning for five of those. And I’ll do that for three hours each time. I think the strength and conditioning is everything because when you get to a certain level in boxing you can’t just hit a fighter and he’ll go down like early in your career. You’re facing fighters who have been through wars, who know how to block shots, slip punches and it’s not about talent, it’s about strength and conditioning; the person with the best conditioning will win the fight. Never forget the basic workout: sit-ups, pull-ups and push-ups. And dips. Get used to working with your own bodyweight. The basic stuff keeps you strong.