Wrap hands

TRAINER Alan Smith only replicates his fight-night hand-wrapping method once, around a week before the contest. “I make sure Brad is comfortable with no niggles,” Smith explains. “I was taught by the late Dean Powell who was himself shown by Emanuel Steward. I’m looking for comfort and protection. Some kids are nervous when you’re wrapping their hands and it drives you mad. Every boxer’s hands are slightly different – small hands are more difficult – but you get used to a fighter’s hands.” Smith later takes close-up photographs of Skeete’s wrapped fists for further analysis.

Shadow-boxing – four rounds

SKEETE usually completes eight rounds but is now nearing the end of camp. He appears intensely focused as he flits and feints, seemingly with an emphasis on holding the ring-centre. “I’m looking for tiny mistakes at this stage,” Smith tells me. “Maybe with his balance, and checking his hands are in the right position for fighting a southpaw [like Gavin].”

Pads – four rounds

BRADLEY has recently done more sparring than padwork. Now he responds to Smith’s instructions with hard single shots, combinations and movement. He listens intently as his trainer coaches him mid-round.
“It’s the tiny adjustments that make a difference,” Smith asserts. “We only have 30-second rests between rounds on everything. It gets my fighters used to less recovery time and allows them to endure longer. I’m checking Brad’s timing, power and concentration on the pads, I can feel if he’s strong or not. I try to replicate the opponent and sometimes do pads southpaw.”

Bagwork – four rounds

THE fighter belabours the bag with precision and technical proficiency. His trainer monitors this drill. “It’s a nice workout and we aim for 200 punches a round,” Smith reveals. “We count these early on but by now I can tell by his rhythm. The bag offers a resistance that is like punching someone. There are also different bags to practise different skills and different heights of bags too. With each shot he throws, I’m looking for the same power – consistency.”

Bag taps – two rounds

WITH the power turned down, Skeete hits the bag using speed and volume. It’s a warm-down method. “It looks easy but if you work in bursts or do it for long enough it can be exhausting,” Alan laughs. “At the start of camp he does this flat-out for 40 minutes, no break.”

VersaClimber – six minutes

YOUR author can barely manage 30 seconds (on a machine which replicates climbing movements). Skeete of course usually does 16 minutes at full effort but is now tapering down, though does increase the pace towards the end. “This is incredible for cardio, it burns so much,” enthuses Smith. “Sixteen minutes is like life-and-death. It works the heart and all the muscles.”

Various ab work – 400 reps total

NOW firmly cooling down, Skeete hits the mat for some ab work. “We change the exercise every 20, 30 or 40 reps,” says Smith. “If you keep the same number all the time your body will adjust to make it easier.”

*For training information and workouts from some of the biggest names in combat sport don’t miss the Fighting Fit: Train like the Stars special*