Welcome guys, this thread is going to serve as our window into the minds and training camps of many famous fighters, past and present.
I will be asking questions on recently discussed topics sop as to get you the best answers on the issues you are most interested in.
Opening this series of interviews is an individual that truely portrays the benefits of diligent and effective training.
His latest fights have revealed a new intensity and a relinquished hunger that although never absent, had been questioned.
Yusaf Mack is currently active with a 25-2-2 record and currently holds the NABA light Heavyweight Title.
Yusaf was generous enough to participate in the correspondence with little notice.
Prior to joining the ranks of Light Heavyweights did you ever suspect you were suffering from weight drain and in what ways did making 168 alter your performances?
Yes I had been struggling to make 168 for some time but my trainers always insisted I could make it, I knew in myself it was too much but I took the advice I was given. I had been boxing at the same weight since I was 17 years old, your body develops but I was still trying to make the weight and I paid the price. I would have to lose like 20lbs in the last few weeks, I would get to 173lbs and then have to start burning muscle and drying out to an extreme, especially in the last few fights when I was taking laxatives and water tables and eating barely nothing, I came out of the weigh ins and felt physically ill and I was not able to rehydrate myself properly as it made me sick to eat and drink. I went into the fights with Berrio and Andrade feeling weak, they are tough guys I could get away with it with some opponents but not world class fighters. Of course it affected my performances after 2 rounds I felt weak and just had to fight on with heart till my body gave up, neither of the two loses was I hurt by a punch, both of them my legs just gave up. Some of it was down to poor preparation and training but being weight drained played a big part.
You have never been stopped or indeed beaten in the first half of a fight.
Could you confirm that fatigue and dehydration causes one's chin to become less solid?
Maybe not the chin but definitely the legs, if your legs won’t carry you there is only one way you are going. I feel I have a decent chin and have never been down in my career apart from the later rounds of the Berrio and Andrade fights, and it was my legs that let me down not my chin.
You hold an admirable stoppage record, as a young fighter would you have preferred some additional rounds to assure yourself of your stamina and conditioning over longer periods?
I don’t really think it made much of a difference, I did a 12 rounder and a 10 rounder in 05 but they weren’t as said earlier as my body grew it was harder and harder to make weight, my training regime wasn’t what it should have been either, I am not sure longer fights would have made much of a difference.
Personally, how do you feel young boxers should approach the sport, or in other words,
If you were thrown into the role of a trainer, what would be your initial approach when grooming your young boxer?
I think looking at my own career I have made mistakes and you have to learn from them, sometimes you can tell people but it is hard to listen, I would try and get them eating right and training right, for me now I train and eat differently that I ever had in my career before JT came in am made changes to everything, I feel so much better than I ever have before I can do things that I never could I would try to get the younger fighter training the way I do now I now if I did it from the start of my career I have no doubt that I would be a world champion now, I just now have to wait a bit longer but I will get there.
In your own training, do you now focus primarily on technique or conditioning?
Everything, we start a camp focusing on the strength work then move into speed work nearer the fight but we always work on technique and conditioning, every day is different.
As I said we start the camp with more strength work, but the focus on fitness is always there, the last few weeks we do more speed work.
Do you indulge in any specific mental preparations in training camp?
Not really I have been boxing a long time and now that I eat and train right and the move up to 175 I don’t have to stress myself out about making the weight I can be more focused on the fight. JT is always there for me as well and makes sure I keep focused.
Many fighters have problems in training because they don't enjoy their camp.
Are there any efforts your team make to make the camp more enjoyable or is it strictly business in camp for your team?
The fitter I get the more I enjoy it, JT is not like other trainers some would have you do the same workouts everyday, J always has some sort of twist to keep me on my toes it’s strange he has a way of making me do stuff, I will do something once and not be able to do it, then he will have me doing other stuff and then suddenly I will be doing what he wanted me to do in the first place without really realising, it’s hard to describe. Some workouts I don’t like because they are tough but I know that it is helping me reach my goal, it can’t all be fun.
You have never been one to chase the "celebrity trainers," and it has now become apparent yourself and John Tandy work well together. What elements of your relationship made you feel John is right for you? Was it his style of training or his attitude?
I admit it was tough at the start J came in changed a lot of what I had been doing for years some of the stuff i didn't think needed to be changed, a lot of the trainers I had in the past had the attitude that I had this great natural ability and it would get me to where I wanted to be, J was like you ain’t getting anywhere unless you start to make sacrifices and work your butt off, the first few weeks I was hurting like I have never hurt, and I was getting pissed off with it, it felt like I was in a army training camp, but about 3 weeks in I had my first sparring session and I did 8 rounds and wasn’t hardly out of breath, before I would feel it after about 3 rounds, then we kind of clicked, I realised the things he was doing were really helping and improving me, he was there for me when my pops got sick and died during camp now we are like brothers from another mother, he is hard with me and I don’t enjoy pissing him off, but he gets things out of me that no one has before and I feel better than I ever have. I wouldn’t change him for anyone, Manny Stewart, Buddy McGirt, give me JT any day.
In fights such as that with Andrade you displayed aggression and a fire that reveal your roots. Are there any Philadelphian fighters that were inspirations to you training as a young fighter?
Meldrick Taylor, James Shuler, Bernard Hopkins, Tibiys Flowers, Steve Mack
Nutrition has become increasingly important in modern boxing. How do you tend to your bodies demands?
Before JT came I didn’t use anything but now I take my vitamins and supplements every day, Cod liver oil, vitamin C, calcium, etc. I also make sure I eat properly now, eating plenty of fruit and veg.
Finally, are you continuously striving to perfect your style, meticulously working on the same moves so as to commit good form to memory or are you a fighter that learns something new in each camp, remaining flexible to each fight's specific demands?
Bit of both really there are some combinations we focus on but we come up with new things all the time and then try them out in sparring if they work great if not we move on, the main thing I have really improved is my jab, I have worked hard on that, we also watch tapes on the opponent and looks for weakness then work on things to exploit those weaknesses.
Yusaf was asked questions on recent and frequently discussed topics on the training board.
If you want a fighter to be asked a question in the future, drum up interest by starting a succesful topic on the board
Many Thanks to Yusaf Mack and his obliging Team.