Just whom did Joshua shock?

Just whom did Joshua shock?


But probably not the majority of mainstream commentators – and certainly not the bookies, who had Anthony Joshua the odds-on favourite at 4/9 (-225) to defeat Andy Ruiz Jnr in the lead up to their rematch on 7 December last year in Saudi Arabia.

The predictions this time around were hardly uniform. There’d been a shift in opinion since Ruiz won the first fight at Madison Square Garden, and it was profound. A big chunk of the boxing establishment was now leaning toward the man whom six months earlier they’d written off as a fat, pasty, baby-faced, fringe contender. Many in the commentariat, including many other pro boxers, were confident that Ruiz would – or at least could – repeat his dominant performance.

The shift in opinion was just and reasonable. Although it’s axiomatic in boxing that every boxer in every fight has a “puncher’s chance”, Ruiz’s victory over Joshua was pretty obviously not a fluke. There was no lucky punch. As I pointed out in the aftermath of the first fight, the blueprint for slaying the British giant had been hiding in plain sight for years. Ruiz saw it, studied it, and applied it to utterly devastating effect. He demolished Joshua because he was the superior boxer.

I wasn’t shocked by Ruiz in the first fight. I’d been anticipating that someone like him would take out Joshua sooner or later. I must confess, however, that I was shocked by Joshua in the second fight. The limitations  and vulnerabilities he’d shown not only against Ruiz, but also against several earlier opponents, made me doubt – and very seriously so – whether he had the boxing IQ to reform himself. Credit where credit is due: Joshua did reform himself, and the rest is history.

So what were the mainstream commentators thinking? The most insightful and prescient of them all was George Foreman.

The prophecy of Big George

A day or two before the Clash on the Dunes, Foreman gave an interview about the rematch to Gareth Davies (the respected boxing reporter for the UK’s otherwise deplorable Telegraph rag) in which he was right about, well, everything.

I dare you to tell him he was wrong

Foreman began the interview by reflecting on the only deposed heavyweight champions to do what Joshua intended to do and regain the title in an immediate rematch: Floyd Patterson, Muhammad Ali, and Lennox Lewis.

According to Foreman, Patterson’s only hope in his rematch against Ingemar Johansson was to catch the Swede with his trademark gazelle hook. But Patterson was a rather limited fighter. Joshua, observed Foreman, had many more options available to him owing to his height, reach, and punching power.

Foreman then set out two general strategies for Joshua, modelling them on the divergent approaches taken by Ali and Lewis.

The Ali strategy, which The Greatest implemented perfectly against Leon Spinks in 1978, was to go into the rematch intending to jab, circle, and clinch one’s way back to the title on points. The Lewis strategy, which The Lion implemented perfectly against Hasim Rahman in 2001, was to go in with the intention of fully knocking out the usurper.

Given the precariousness of the British giant’s chin – which Ruiz exposed for all the world to see in 2019, but which had been increasingly evident at least since the Klitschko fight in 2017 – it was obvious which of the two strategies would best suit Joshua in Saudi Arabia. As Foreman said:

“If it were me, I would look to the Ali-Spinks rematch, and follow it to a T. Don’t worry about people booing you. Walk him around the ring. Wait for the referee to say break. Step behind the referee, and do it all again, for 12 rounds.

“That’s what I would do. Not much moving, just jab, jab, jab. If things get out of hand, control your man and wait for the ref to step in. Every now and then land a right hand to keep the crowd excited, but don’t go deep into exchanges because Ruiz has already proven he can drop him.”

Such was the strategy Foreman recommended to Joshua. Big George was confident in prophesying that Joshua would actually follow it:

“He’s going to go out there and box. If there’s going to be a knockout, it’ll be when he decides he has three minutes left and this guy can’t reach him. I believe he’ll win that fight in 12 rounds… He can win this fight round after round.”

And so Joshua did – to a ‘T’.

Decisive yet uncompelling

Joshua’s victory over Ruiz was decisive. It was just as decisive as Ali’s victory over Spinks, if not more so.

We might never know the finer details of Joshua’s camp. But what is certain is that at some point he and trainer Rob McCracken committed themselves to the Ali strategy. For all anyone knows, they never explicitly called it that, or even once thought about the Ali-Spinks rematch. Nevertheless, ex post facto, we know that they chose the Ali strategy and practised it in camp. Foreman seemed to know it all beforehand.

By the time the British giant emerged from camp, he’d made the stylistic and mental adjustments required to neutralise the blueprint for KOing him. He entered the ring with a wholly rational plan and fought an almost wholly disciplined fight in accordance with it. The plan wasn’t conducive to entertaining the fans, especially those with only a casual interest in the sport. But it was beautiful as only the sweet science can be.

Joshua’s performance was almost identical to Ali’s. He jabbed, he circled, he threw the occasional right hand, he clinched. And the points piled up and up, round after round. There were differences, of course. Joshua was more aggressive than Ali had been against Spinks, and he spent less time on the ropes. Joshua was also a superbly trained and conditioned young boxer still in his prime, whereas Ali was none of those things in 1978.

And here lies the problem.

Joshua’s victory over Ruiz was uncompelling. It was just as uncompelling as Ali’s victory over Spinks, if not more so.

Ali was a shot fighter by 1978. No one who saw him regain the title from Spinks believed that he’d go on to defend it. This is not to downplay the greatness of Ali’s achievement. If anything, the fact that Ali was shot makes his defeat of Spinks even more remarkable. He was the favourite; yet, in hindsight, it’s obvious that the old man had transcended the possible (again). But his performance didn’t send anything like an ominous message to the top contenders. The era of Ali was clearly finished. He announced his retirement in June 1979.

Joshua’s performance against Ruiz was similarly devoid of forebodings of doom for his rivals.

The Ali strategy was a sufficient, and perhaps necessary, means for him to win back the belts from Ruiz. But in availing himself of it, Joshua surely didn’t send any ominous messages to Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder. If Joshua imitated Ali’s example inside the ring, Ruiz imitated that of Spinks outside it. Both Ali and Joshua jabbed, circled, and clinched their way to victory against men who simply couldn’t cope with the fame and fortune the heavyweight championship of the world brings with it. Ali did it over fifteen rounds as an old man; Joshua did it over twelve in his prime.

Spinks, on all accounts, went totally off-the-rails after his surprise victory, culminating in two weeks of drunkenness immediately preceding the rematch. He entered the ring heavier and generally unprepared. Ruiz followed the same trajectory. Already a rather fat man, he came in 15 pounds fatter for the rematch, at a massive 283 pounds. “The partying and all that stuff got the better of me,” Ruiz admitted in the post-fight press conference. “It was my mistake. I felt too confident. I should have trained harder and listened to my team and coaches.”

As the clock ticked down in the final round of the Joshua-Ruiz rematch, one of the British commentators declared that his compatriot in the ring had “silenced the doubters.” I was as shocked by that remark as I was by Joshua’s performance. For Joshua hadn’t silenced the doubters; he’d only given them something else on which to focus their doubt.

Back to bashing elderly Soviets

So what must Joshua do to silence the doubters?

At the time of writing, Joshua’s next opponent is likely to be Kubrat Pulev, the 38-year-old Bulgarian better known for his forceful kissing than his forceful punching. If Joshua bashes him like he bashed Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin, he will have well-and-truly cleaned up the elderly Soviets in the heavyweight division. That would be a distinction of a kind, and as far as I know, Joshua would be the first to achieve it.

It will not silence the doubters. 

Joshua may have the most belts around his belly, but he is currently only one of the best heavyweights in the world. The others, of course, are Fury and Wilder. Those two have already fought one another in a classic, and they’re scheduled to do so again this year. Whatever the result of the second bout between Fury and Wilder, it will set up a rubber match for the history books. Joshua has never fought either of them. 

Can there now be any doubt about what Joshua must do to silence the doubters?

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Analysis, 0 comments
What is Everlast’s Powerlock technology?

What is Everlast’s Powerlock technology?

Although I believe that Everlast makes some truly bad gear, I’m not an inveterate Everlast hater. I like the Everlast logo. I like the faux old-school aesthetics of its marketing campaigns. I like the look or style of many of its gloves and other items of equipment and apparel, not least the awesome white trunks famously worn by Ali. And I would really, really, really like to get my hands on (or in) a pair of Everlast MXs.

Two things I can’t afford

I don’t have enough spare cash for that, however. So I recently bought myself a pair of 16oz synthetic Powerlock gloves. This popular model has been an object of curiosity to me for a long time. They’re good-looking gloves featuring Everlast’s vaunted “Powerlock technology”. They’re also much cheaper than the leather Powerlock Pros (roughly half the price in Australia), despite the apparently identical padding, structure, and stitching.

Two things I can afford

I’ve put in some serious rounds with my Powerlocks, but I’ll reserve my overall judgement on them for my upcoming review.

In the meantime, I’d like to raise something I’ve been wondering about ever since I first forced myself to sit through the torture of Fit2Box’s abominable YouTube review of the Powerlock Pros. In his typical gushing fashion, Fit2Box points to the Powerlock logo and tells us that the Powerlock technology is “actually one of the design features” of the gloves, while failing to provide one iota of explanation of its nature and function. Yet that technology is surely one of the things of most interest to potential buyers of Powerlock gloves.

Everlast is almost – almost – as impressed by its own technological marvel as Fit2Box. After developing it in a secret lab in the sewers of the Bronx, the company bestowed upon it the imposing title of “Powerlock” (which should only ever be uttered in a husky American bass-baritone) and implemented it in several costlier models of glove. It goes without saying that the Powerlock technology is now the “Choice of Champions”. Of course, champions choose it because they’re paid to do so, whereas we choose it because we hope it actually means something.

Entrance to Everlast’s top secret lab in the Bronx

Very slightly to its credit, Everlast provides a bit more information about the Powerlock technology than Fit2Box and most other shill-like online gear reviewers bother to provide to their hapless audiences. Everlast says that the training model

Features Powerlock technology, an ergonomic layered foam construction that guides your hand into a natural fist position.

Similarly, it says that the fight model

Features Powerlock technology, a defined anatomical foam construction that guides your hand into a natural fist position.

In both cases, Everlast goes on to add that

Compact glove design allows for superior fist closure providing a balance of speed, comfort, and protection while delivering a powerful punch.

As far as I can determine, no one in the whole of human history has publicly written or uttered anything more informative about the Powerlock technology than those three sentences. Everlast gives champions millions of dollars on which to base their “choice”. It gives us three meagre sentences (two of which mean pretty much the same thing).

But Everlast’s three sentences both say too little and too much.

They say too little because they’re substantially indistinguishable from the sentences used by almost every other gear company to market their training gloves nowadays. There’s nothing in them to suggest that the Powerlock technology is in any way special or different compared to the foam padding used in similar mid-range training gloves.

On the other hand, the sentences say too much because they’re really a kind of confession, the kind which issues from the mouths and keyboards of marketing hacks who know deep down that they have nothing of significance to say about a product. Put simply, not even Everlast itself knows what makes the Powerlock technology special or different.

The marketing bunkum of Everlast and the like is a black mental mist enveloping the boxing gear industry. You can get a good sense for just how dark the darkness really is by contrasting Everlast with one of the few candles.

So consider the Japanese company Winning. Its MS-series gloves are widely acknowledged to be (or to rank among) the best training gloves in the world. What does Winning say about them? Almost nothing, other than that they’re good quality leather gloves. No phony technical terms, no quasi-scientific mumbo jumbo, no empty slogans. The proof of the gloves is not in the words, but in the punching.

Two things I could afford once before

Are you able to enlighten the world about Everlast’s Powerlock technology? Share your wisdom in the comments below!

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Analysis, Equipment, 0 comments
The beginner gear fallacy

The beginner gear fallacy

Are you a beginner wondering what gear you should buy? Or has a beginner ever asked you what gear he or she should buy?

If so, you’re probably familiar with the idea that there’s a special kind of gear for beginners: gear of significantly lower quality and cost than that used by more experienced or advanced boxers, but nevertheless adequate for the purposes of those just starting out in the sport.

You might, for example, have read about “the best gear for beginners” on one of the gazillions of review websites. You might have been told by someone at your gym that certain gear is “good enough for beginners”. You might even have given that advice to a beginner yourself.

The idea of beginner gear seems to have achieved the status of conventional wisdom across the Internet and even in many gyms. This is especially so with regard to training gloves. And, in fact, the idea of beginner gear does have a strong intuitive appeal.

For one thing, many beginners won’t go on to regularly train and compete in boxing. Given that boxing is one of the most physically and psychologically challenging of all sports, the likelihood of any particular beginner choosing to quit is (presumably) very high.

What’s more, beginners generally don’t train with the same frequency and intensity as more advanced boxers. Not only that, but they’re generally incapable of punching with the same degree of power. Advanced boxers subject their bodies (viz. hands) to a lot more punishment.

So beginners shouldn’t spend much money buying decent quality gloves and other training gear. Who could doubt that? It’s just common sense, right?

Well, maybe – but I doubt it, and very seriously so. In my opinion, it’s fallacious to claim that a boxer should buy low quality and low cost gear just because he or she is a beginner.

Why is it a fallacy?

Despite what conventional wisdom would suggest, the idea of beginner gear actually has no basis in the training needs of beginners.

A beginner is someone who has undergone little or no training in the sport. Absolute beginners have had no training whatsoever, while relative beginners have only had a bit. 

Boxing is a technically sophisticated sport. Beginners don’t pick it up in one or two training sessions. It typically takes years and years of training for someone to grasp and apply the techniques of boxing.

The technical sophistication of boxing means that beginners are much more likely than experienced boxers to commit technical errors during training. The likelihood of technical error is perhaps highest when beginners are doing solo bagwork or sparring under pressure.

Beginners also tend to be much more likely than experienced boxers to throw lots and lots of power punches. The insane megalomania of beginners can be readily observed in almost any gym. Like technical error, it’s probably most common during bagwork and sparring.

Indeed, technical error and power punching go hand in hand. This unholy alliance is the bane of the beginner boxer, as it dramatically increases the risk of injury. The majority of injuries during training result from punching hard with bad technique.

(I take it that that’s obvious enough in the case of bagwork. But it also applies to sparring. Beginners who throw lots and lots of wild power punches in sparring open themselves up to more counterpunches and therefore more injuries.)

A beginner making a fool of himself on the heavy bag

The foregoing considerations shouldn’t be controversial. Yet they militate very strongly against the idea of beginner gear. They suggest that, if anyone truly needs good quality gear, then beginners do.

To avoid misunderstanding, let me note that this doesn’t mean that more experienced or advanced boxers don’t need good quality gear as well. Of course they do. My point is just that they’re not the only ones. 

Everyone who trains in the sport of boxing needs good quality gear. I mean, just think about it. You don’t play boxing.

Do beginners need the best gear?

This stands in need of further elucidation. The fact that everyone, including beginners, needs good quality gear, does not mean that everyone needs the best gear.

In particular, beginners don’t need the best gear.

It would be absurd and counterproductive to suggest that beginners (of ordinary means) should splash out on brand new gear from Winning, Grant, DiNardo, or any of the other top-shelf, hyper-expensive brands.

If anyone really needs that gear – and I have my doubts whether anyone does – it’s high-level professional boxers and world-class amateurs.

Gear aficionados and other wannabes like myself like to say we really need the best gear, but if we’re open and honest with ourselves, I think we have to admit that that’s only a pretence to convince our ragged, starving families to allow us to buy it.

A gear aficionado’s wife and children

So although beginners need not spend up big on the best gear, they should be willing to spend a sizable sum on good quality gear. (They can always sell it easily enough on eBay or Gumtree if boxing turns out not to be for them.)

In general, however, the gear marketed to beginners by the companies is not good quality gear.

The idea of beginner gear is nowadays little/nothing more than a marketing device intended to sell masses of overpriced junk gear to masses of ignorant consumers. My use of the adjective “ignorant” here is non-pejorative; I only mean to designate normal consumers who, through lack of information, experience, or whatever, don’t know any better.

Of course, the paradigmatic examples of this kind of overpriced junk gear are the Everlast Pro Style training gloves. Nominally, they’re relatively cheap; but given their poor performance and poor durability, they’re ready for landfill the moment you buy them. They’re total rip-offs.

Even a cursory perusal of mainstream gear review sites should be sufficient to convince you that the idea of beginner gear is just another brainchild of marketing hacks. Those sites – which I’ve elsewhere called buckets of faeces – pump out review after review recommending truly appalling gear to beginners. At best, they paraphrase the marketing bunkum of the companies; at worst, they restate it verbatim. Their sole purpose, of course, is to earn commissions from affiliate marketing programs.

The idea of beginner gear enables the companies to cover off the largest segment of the gear market: the mass of ignorant consumers. It also enables the mainstream gear review sites to make money from misleading that same segment of the gear market.

What it does not enable is beginners to make good choices about the gear they need to properly partake in the sport of boxing.

What do you think of beginner gear? Let me know in the comments below!

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Analysis, Equipment, 0 comments
Lace N Loop upgrades metal eyelet

Lace N Loop upgrades metal eyelet

My review of the Lace N Loop straps strongly recommended them for users of lace-up gloves. They’re great products. If you train in lace-up gloves, then whether you train solo or in a gym, you’ll get a lot of utility out of them.

I should know. I own six pairs of the things. And as I mentioned in my review, I’ve never had any significant issues with my Lace N Loops, other than the rust which developed on the metal eyelets of two out of the six pairs.

Now as you all know I’m pretty sceptical of many aspects of the world of boxing, not least the multitude of gear companies who pollute that world with their crappy products and accompanying marketing bunkum.

So today I was very pleasantly surprised indeed when Lace N Loop informed me that it’s become aware of the rust issue and already taken positive action to remedy it by upgrading the metal eyelet to stainless steel.

Even with my evil sardonicism, I must allow credit where credit’s due. The guys behind Lace N Loop are to be commended for this mature and sensible response to reasonable critical feedback from their customers.

It’s my understanding that the upgrade applies to all Lace N Loop straps produced as of late 2019.

| eBay AU | Amazon US | eBay US |

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Equipment, 0 comments
Is Fit2Box fit to review?

Is Fit2Box fit to review?

The YouTube ecosystem is crawling with so-called “influencers”. This cultural honorific is bestowed upon popular YouTubers who post videos of themselves expressing opinions on products, services, and/or trends, thereby influencing the consumption choices of the thousands or even millions of people subscribed to their YouTube channels. Nowadays there seem to be YouTube influencers for everything under the sun. If you can think of it, then someone has already expressed an opinion upon it.

The world of boxing, of course, has its share of these YouTube influencers. Indeed, you would be hard pressed to identify something under the sun of the boxing world upon which one influencer or another has not expressed an opinion. This is especially so for boxing equipment. Boxers need good gear and many of them (myself included) are willing to spend substantial sums of money to get it. So they turn to Google for advice. And the influencers are there, ready and willing to give it.

In general, the phenomenon of influencers is potentially – and perhaps in many cases is actually – socially beneficial. This is because very many markets are subject to information failures. The market for boxing equipment is obviously one of them. The vast majority of consumers know next to nothing about the design, materials, manufacture, and everyday performance of boxing equipment. Influencers are well-positioned to help us ignorant consumers overcome the problem of informational asymmetry.

Yet influencers are also well-positioned to mislead and deceive us ignorant consumers, and, in fact, there are powerful incentives for them to do so. Influencers make money from advertising and affiliate marketing programs, but consumers won’t click to buy negatively reviewed products. Influencers often receive free products from companies, but companies won’t keep up the supply if all they get in return are bad reviews. (I can appreciate the power of such incentives because they also apply to me.)

“The No.1 boxing equipment review channel on YouTube”

And that brings me to the YouTuber Fit2Box (aka Simon Higgins). Fit2Box is the self-proclaimed top YouTube influencer on the highly vexed topic of boxing equipment. He has produced hundreds and hundreds of reviews of gloves and other gear, and his YouTube channel has thousands and thousands of subscribers. There is also a separate website designed to aid in navigating his extensive YouTube back catalogue. Fit2Box even has plans to introduce his own range of merchandise, starting with branded hand wraps.

Fit2Box aka Simon Higgins

But is Fit2Box really YouTube’s No.1 gear reviewer? It depends what Fit2Box means by “No.1”. If Fit2Box simply means that his channel has more subscribers than other gear review channels, then his claim to be “No.1” may well be true. There are more than 10K subscribers to the Fit2Box channel. As far as I can determine, Fit2Box’s main rivals on YouTube are csquared with 4.8K subscribers and ratethisgear with 3.44K. (The ExpertBoxing channel has a whopping 231K subscribers, but it’s mostly focused on training and fighting, with relatively few gear reviews.)

Quantity is not quality, however. If Fit2Box means that his channel provides better reviews than other gear review channels, then his claim to be “No.1” is both more interesting and more controversial. Let us consider what Fit2Box takes to be his own raison d’être:

I set up Fit2Box channel to help people make more informed decisions when buying their boxing equipment. Boxing is my passion and equipment is my area of expertise. My reviews are honest, unbiased and informative, to give my viewers my take on the best boxing equipment available, whatever your budget. I am totally independent and don’t receive any payment for any reviews, I do it for the love of the sport and to help people make the right choices for them.

This suggests that Fit2Box himself is deeply concerned with providing high quality reviews of boxing equipment. So that is how I shall understand his claim to be “No.1”. Is Fit2Box the best gear reviewer? Are his reviews of boxing equipment better than those of others? Should you base your gear purchases on his reviews? 

The short story is No, No, and No. In general, Fit2Box produces not reviews so much as uncritical, uninformative, and occasionally incoherent infomercials. If it were not for his amiable online persona, I would be tempted to say that Fit2Box intentionally designs his anodyne reviews to generate affiliate clicks and maintain a steady flow of free gear from the companies. But I won’t go that far. Fit2Box seems like a nice enough guy and I have no desire to impugn the man’s character.

What I will do is argue that Fit2Box is not fit to review. I shall do so by critiquing a selection of typical reviews. I must confess that I haven’t watched each and every review produced by Fit2Box. Not only are there hundreds and hundreds of them, but many are excruciatingly tedious (especially the “head-to-head” comparisons) and I’ve got better things to do with my life. Even so, I think I’ve watched enough of his reviews to put myself in a position to rationally identify problems with his general approach.

Let’s get into it.

Fit2Box is Unfit2Review

Everlast Powerlock Boxing Gloves 14oz Review

Fit2Box begins this review by distinguishing the Powerlocks from the cheap and nasty Everlast gloves sold in department stores. This distinction, while quite legitimate, serves as Fit2Box’s introduction of the central message his infomercial, that the Powerlocks are “top-end… top quality Everlast gloves”. Fit2Box then moves into an earnestly inane presentation of the branding Everlast has plastered all over the Powerlocks, taking the utmost care to point out the Powerlock logo on the thumb, the Powerlock logo on the grip bar, the “Choice of Champions” slogan and 14oz tag on the cuff, the Everlast and Powerlock logos on the wrist strap, and finally the big Everlast logo on the back.

A vague gesture is made toward something actually of interest to potential users of the Powerlocks when, pointing at the Powerlock logo on the thumb, Fit2Box tells us that “that is the Powerlock which is actually one of the design features.” But he immediately drops the ball and continues on with his tedious aesthetic rundown, leaving the nature and function of this key feature utterly unexplained. What is the Powerlock feature and what does it actually do? Fit2Box does nothing to clarify the mystery, probably because, like Everlast itself, he doesn’t know how.

The final half of the infomercial is a veritable encomium, in which Fit2Box heaps praise after praise upon the Powerlocks almost without end. He tells us that the Powerlocks are “a very nice top-end Everlast glove”, “an absolutely beautiful glove” which Everlast apparently “put out to challenge your Cleto Reyes, your Grants, and your Winnings”. (If this latter claim is true – and I highly doubt it given the existence of the MX line – then Everlast is even more delusional than Fit2Box.) Of course, there’s not the slightest mention in this infomercial of the complaints voiced by ordinary consumers in online gear forums about the irregular stitching, fragile padding, and other quality issues with the Powerlocks.

So what else is there for Fit2Box to do than “fully recommend” you buy them? 

Everlast Protex 3 Boxing Gloves Review

In this abysmal effort, Fit2Box stumbles along hopelessly for three-and-a-half minutes, propped up by little more than the adjective “nice”, which is his favourite linguistic crutch. He naturally begins by discussing one of the chief gimmicks of these gimmicky gloves, their velcro closure system. He enthuses over the “nice three parts to the velcro” on the cuff, telling us they’re something “which I really do like” but conspicuously failing to tell us why he likes them. And, in fact, there’s nothing at all to set those three small strips above or apart from the larger single strips standardly found on velcro gloves. 

Next, and apparently without realising it, Fit2Box proceeds to identify the obvious flaws of the gimmicky Protex3 velcro closure system. He observes first that the wrist strap is too short to be wrapped around your wrist for solid support, adding that, like the flimsy one on the Protex2s, it’s likely to split or tear off the glove if you pull it too hard. He then brings out the cuff sheaths and tells us that they “would make a nice fit that would cover over the velcro”. Despite the fact that the utility of the sheaths is as unclear as their inconvenience is clear, Fit2Box makes no attempt to explain why we should care about them.

As the review progresses, Fit2Box only clutches more desperately at the gimmicky straws put there for him by Everlast. He points out “a little rubbery part” on the thumb, telling us that “that’s EverGel”, but makes no attempt whatsoever to explain the nature and function of the mysterious substance. He then blurts out, as if by accident, that the Protex3s are “one of the better, more quality gloves that Everlast do”. This leads into one of the most pathetic moments in any of the Fit2Box infomercials. Desperate for something to justify his enthusiasm, Fit2Box suddenly tells us that “you’ve got there the EverCool, which is a feature of the glove, and you’ve got ‘Greatness is Within’ on there as well” – i.e. look! there’s some mesh and there’s a slogan. Wow.

In the end, things comes full circle as Fit2Box once more praises the “very nice three velcros there, which I think is a nice touch”, before concluding that Everlast has “obviously thought a lot about the look of the glove and they are a nice glove”. But I doubt whether even Everlast itself has thought as much about the look of these “nice gloves” as Fit2Box.

AquaBag as used by Canelo Alvarez Review

This is a perfect illustration of the total absence of critical acumen in many of Fit2Box’s reviews. The whole video is a kind of paean to the AquaBag, nearly four minutes of constant praise and admiration in which Fit2Box tells us, among other things, that AquaBags are “absolutely superb… absolutely brilliant” training devices, and he “would recommend an AquaBag to any gym or anyone”. 

There can be no mistaking the fact that this alleged review is really an infomercial. Text describing the sizes and prices of the various models of AquaBag appears throughout, ostensibly for our enlightenment. But the AquaBag company itself would be hard pressed to produce a more gushing, self-indulgent advertisement for its own products. Not without a blush, anyway.

Water bags are great. I agree with Fit2Box that they’re superb and brilliant training tools. As I have discussed in another post, however, AquaBags are simply marine buoys that you can buy for a fraction of the price from your local marine supply store or Amazon. The AquaBag company is perpetrating a marketing scam on the boxing community, and unthinking patsies like Fit2Box are enabling it.

RDX BGL-T9 Boxing Glove Review

Fit2Box goes right off the rails in this incoherent mess of a review. As usual he kicks things off with an aesthetic rundown. The tediousness gradually lulls you into a sort of living death, until Fit2Box points out that the wrist strap has “some nice badges on there as well to indicate the different features of the glove… on there it says RDX Giant Inside BGL-T9”. At that moment there is no knowing whether to laugh or cry at the inanity of it all; for my own part, I’m sure I was at least feeling something, and maybe even thinking too. I wasn’t dead.

And then the strangest thing happens, enough to jolt even me out of my sardonic musings. Fit2Box proceeds to actually criticise the T9s, as follows: 

As soon as I put these on I notice straight away that the thumb is a very short thumb, but also very compacted… so your thumb is actually sort of pushed in… which is not great comfortable wise… my thumb is right at the end there and it’s also being pushed in… the knuckle area and thumb are almost locked in position, so there’s no movement to open the hand… okay for the bag but not for sparring. I wouldn’t use these for sparring. There’s not enough hand movement in these for me to catch shots and that thumb is a little pressed in to the hand for me to use. They’re not as comfortable as a glove that I would want, very stiff, very tight in the fingers and thumb area and everything is sort of locked in place.

It’s unclear to me why Fit2Box would believe that uncomfortable, badly designed gloves are ok to use for bagwork but not for sparring. And I don’t believe he really does believe it. Perhaps he made the bagwork comment because he felt guilty about all the flood of deprecatory observations coming out of his mouth. However that may be, the gist of his criticism is obvious: the T9s are junk gloves, and you shouldn’t waste your money on them.

But being the amiable chap that he is, Fit2Box cannot bring himself to just say it. And as soon as he falls back into his default mode of anodyne positivity, he’s forced into the most absurd incoherence. For Fit2Box goes on to conclude that the T9s are “a decent pair of gloves for very little money”, “a bit of a steal really”, and “totally fit for purpose”. All of that, despite his having just demonstrated the exact opposite.

Velo Leather Boxing Gloves Review

Ok, one more. This one provides a good example of the aesthetic-functional-structural mishmash so common in Fit2Box’s reviews. It begins like a full-blown late night infomercial, complete with a host who is ostensibly astonished by the low price of the product he’s trying to sell. “Let me give you the price,” says Fit2Box, “and the price of these gloves is 29 pounds 99 pence. That’s right, that’s 29 pounds 99 pence… That is fantastic value for money”. 

Next Fit2Box turns to the gloves themselves. He refrains from indulging in one of his tedious aesthetic rundowns, choosing instead to focus on the functional and structural aspects of the Velos. This is commendable, at least while it lasts; but his attention is suddenly drawn to the stitching on the back/rear of the glove, which he sincerely informs us is “quite unusual… but it shows the attention to detail, and the fact that they have actually thought about what they’re doing with this glove. It shows effort, they’ve not just done sort of a stock glove, they’ve tried to put some design cues on there as well…” And so it goes. 

But what is the meaning of this drivel? Is Fit2Box making an aesthetic point? Or does he think that the stitching is functionally and/or structurally significant? Why does the stitching show that Velo has put thought into the glove? Why does it show effort? Does Fit2Box even know what he is saying and believe it? And why am I even asking such questions? It’s so much easier to just smile and nod along. After all, “at 29.99 these are fantastic value for money!”


What do you think about Fit2Box’s reviews? Let me know in the comments below!

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Analysis, Reviews, 29 comments
Review: Winning NG-2 Knuckle Guard

Review: Winning NG-2 Knuckle Guard

My struggle with knuckle pain began shortly after my first ever training session on the heavy bag.

I’d trained with the frenzy typical of beginner boxers, utterly absorbed by the sensation of my own power, and utterly ignorant of technique. It was haymaker after haymaker for a full thirty minutes, all delivered in my A$20 pair of Rock bag gloves from Rebel Sports. And I shall never forget it. For the megalomania of working out on the heavy bag is perhaps the closest ordinary men can get to experiencing the mental lives of extraordinary men like Alexander, Caesar, and Napoleon.

But there’s no escaping reality, especially the reality of one’s mediocrity.

As the delusional intoxication of my megalomania waned, the real pain in the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint of my left ring finger waxed. It felt as if the knuckle bones and cartilage had been crushed into paste, though of course they hadn’t. My knuckle was simply very sore and tender as a consequence of the blunt force trauma I’d repeatedly inflicted upon it over a period of thirty minutes. If you’ve ever had serious knuckle pain from punching the heavy bag, you’ll know what I mean.

I thought the knuckle pain would eventually go away with further “conditioning” of my hands. But although it did come and go, it never disappeared completely, not even as my gloves progressed from Rock to Punch, Hayabusa, Rival, Cleto Reyes, and finally Winning itself. It seemed as though knuckle pain was my destiny. In desperation, I invented crazy coping mechanisms. For example, I imagined that the degree of my knuckle pain was somehow indicative of my commitment to the sport.

And then one day I read about knuckle guards on the Internet, probably somewhere on the Sherdog gear forum. The knuckle guards in question were Winning NG-2s.


| Amazon AU | eBay AU | Amazon US| eBay US |

The Winning NG-2 knuckle guard is a very simple device. It comprises (apparently two layers of) gel padding encased by some kind of stretchy, elasticised fabric, with a strap or loop to hold the gel padding down.

One of my pairs of Winning NG-2s

The gel padding is intended to sit on top of the four MCP joints involved in striking. The rectangular pads are roughly 11cm long, 5.5cm wide, and 1cm high, which is presumably enough for most people’s knuckles.

To use the Winning NG-2 knuckle guard, you must insert your fingers through the loop until the lengthwise axis of the gel padding roughly aligns with the four MCP joints involved in striking.

Lengthwise axis aligned with MCP joints

You then apply your hand wraps. If you normally run your wraps between your fingers, you may find that doing so while wearing an NG-2 pushes it up and onto the back of your hand, thereby defeating the purpose of wearing it. In that case, it it’s easiest to forget about your fingers and simply run the wrap all the way around your hand, though it’s also possible to first make a “barrier” behind the NG-2 with the wrap and then run the wrap between your fingers.

You can simply run the wrap around your hand…
…or you can make a wrap barrier…
…and run the wrap run between your fingers.

Winning is famous in the world of boxing for its understated – even non-existent – marketing claims. The company doesn’t have much to say about the NG-2s, other than that they’re gel pads which provide protection for your knuckles in addition to that provided by your gloves. And, indeed, that’s what the NG-2s are, and that’s what they do.


| Amazon AU | eBay AU | Amazon US| eBay US |


The NG-2s provide superb protection for the four MCP joints involved in striking. They are highly effective in both preventing the development of knuckle pain and alleviating pre-existing knuckle pain.

My own experience with the NG-2s was almost magical.

When I first got them, I made sure to give my battered and bruised knuckles a week or two to recover. Then I got back into hard training. For someone obsessed with boxing, it was like being born again.

The NG-2s had an incidental benefit for me as well. I’ve always preferred the fit of my gloves to be snug, but as I have small hands, this preference has often gone unsatisfied. Not now. The gel padding of the NG-2s makes my wrapped hands bulkier, thereby making the fit of my gloves snugger in general. I like it.

Of course, one man’s pleasure is another man’s pain. Many people with larger hands complain that the NG-2s make their wrapped hands too bulky for their gloves. More specifically, if you have big hands, the use of NG-2s may make it harder for you to put your gloves on, or even prevent you from doing so altogether. 

Another common complaint is that the NG-2s can be a bit fiddly to get right, especially compared to gel quick wraps like these:

Sting gel quick wraps

That may be true, but it’s a trivial issue in my opinion. It’s also outweighed by countervailing considerations. Gel quick wraps are notorious for lacking the support of traditional hand wraps. The NG-2s, on the other hand, are intended to complement traditional hand wraps, not replace them; so with NG-2s you don’t have to compromise support for your hand.


The gel padding inside the NG-2s seems pretty much indestructible to me. Of course, it’s not really, but I’ve had several pairs of NG-2s for years now and I have not detected any changes whatsoever in the effectiveness or structure of the gel padding. The stretch fabric covering the gel padding, on the other hand, does show some signs of wear and tear, but nothing beyond what one would reasonably expect from that kind of material.

Wear and tear on fabric loop


The NG-2s are only available in baby blue and they tend to get slightly discoloured with regular use – none of which is really worth knowing, let alone worrying about. After all, the NG-2s are purely functional devices and you wear them under your wraps whenever you use them.


Taking into account that they’re Winning products, the NG-2s are actually reasonably priced – if you know where to get them.

In the USA, things are straightforward enough. You can just buy the NG-2s from Amazon US. They only cost US$22, which is nothing relative to the utility they confer on those with knuckle pain. You can also get them cheaply on eBay US.

In Australia, as usual, you need to be a bit more circumspect in your dealings. MMA Fight Store, the leading rip-off merchant of the Australian boxing scene, sells the NG-2s for a whopping A$55! In this case as in most – but not all – others, I would advise against giving MMA Fight Store your custom. Instead, go to eBay and get NG-2s from Japan for only A$35 inclusive of shipping. You can also import them through Amazon Australia, but that’ll cost more than eBay with shipping.


| Amazon AU | eBay AU | Amazon US| eBay US |

If your hands are not big, and either you suffer from knuckle pain or you want to prevent it, then you should give serious consideration to buying the Winning NG-2 knuckle guard. It’s an effective, durable, and reasonably priced device for protecting your knuckles.

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Equipment, Reviews, 0 comments
DIY sparbar in action!

DIY sparbar in action!

This is the sparbar I made myself as explained in my post on How to make your own sparbar.

It’s the ScepticalBoxer DIY sparbar MkII with a tennis ball attached to the end of the bar for additional head protection. This was necessitated after ScepticalBoxer DIY sparbar MkI opened up a small cut over my left.

I actually had a video of that embarrassing incident, but it spontaneously vanished from my video editor. Weird.

Anyway, let me know what you think of this DIY sparbar (not my technique) in the comments!

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Equipment, 6 comments
The bell tolls for New Sporting

The bell tolls for New Sporting

We are gathered here today to bid good riddance to New Sporting, which in only a few short years rose from obscurity to become the world’s paradigmatic dodgy gear company.

The Mexican outfit has seemingly done everything possible to enrage and alienate a significant chunk of its customers. From obnoxious service to bad quality products, New Sporting has done it.

I put together the first summary of the emerging pathology of New Sporting in a post from May 2019 which asked, Is New Sporting a legitimate business?

That got me banned from commenting on the New Sporting Facebook page. Many others have reported similar attempts by New Sporting to ignore or suppress negative feedback about its service and quality.

Since then, the public criticisms of New Sporting have only intensified. And now the company may be about to pay the ultimate price for its egregious behaviour.

For if there is any justice in this world, there would seem to be no way for New Sporting to recover from the devastating critiques inflicted upon it by the YouTubers csquared and Ghost.

csquared: the rational recantation

Carlos, aka csquared, is a well-known and respected Youtube reviewer of boxing gear. He gave a glowing review of some New Sporting gloves in 2018, which did much to raise awareness of the company’s products and drive its popularity in the boxing community.

Carlos posted the above review in late September 2019 after a disappointed customer of New Sporting’s sent him a more recent pair of the company’s gloves to check out. Suffice it to say here that Carlos has resolutely repudiated his earlier verdict on New Sporting.

Carlos’ recantation is entirely reasonable. The YouTube comments on it provide the most compelling evidence yet of the authoritarian derangement of the people behind New Sporting: their immediate response was to threaten Carlos with a defamation action.

Ghost: the nail in the coffin

Ghost is a mysterious figure, more myth than man – but whoever or whatever he is, he has proved himself to be a genius of the Spanish-speaking boxing community with this remarkable debut work of audiovisual critique (complete with good English subtitles).

Ghost sets out the nature and history of New Sporting’s problems with clarity, force, and credibility. He has given us ordinary consumers the definitive verdict on this disgraceful company. If you still buy New Sporting after watching Ghost’s critique, then either you didn’t pay attention or you’re an idiot.

The lesson of it all is simple: avoid buying New Sporting. If you want Mexican-style gloves, get Cleto Reyes or one of the other established Mexican brands. Or get a pair of these.

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Analysis, Equipment, 2 comments
Morgan joins the ranks of water bag fraudsters

Morgan joins the ranks of water bag fraudsters

I’m yet to determine just what it is, but something about water bags really does drive boxing gear companies into an insane frenzy of greed.

I’ve already posted about the amazing marketing fraud being perpetrated on the boxing community by the Aqua Training Bag company in the USA. AquaBags are simply rebranded marine buoys you can buy elsewhere for roughly half the price.

In that same post, I identified GameBred Sports as the Australian counterpart. This little company sells rebranded marine buoys at massively inflated prices, generally around four times what you’d pay for a functionally identical marine buoy.

That was back in May 2019 and, as far as I could determine at the time, GameBred Sports was the only Australian gear company selling water bags downunder. The water bag greed virus had yet to infect the bigger, more established companies.

It’s my sad duty to report that we may now be on the brink of an epidemic.

Today I was wasting time on the Internet when a marketing algorithm suddenly proposed that I might be interested in a certain item of boxing equipment newly available on eBay: the Morgan H20 Water Bag. The marketing algorithm, I must admit, was quite right.

So I clicked the ad.

Morgan is a leading gear company in Australia. It’s gloves are mostly overpriced junk, but that’s the norm here (everywhere?). Some of its other products are ok. I’ve owned several Morgan heavy bags over the years, and they were decent quality products at reasonable prices.

But what my click of the ad quickly revealed is that this well-known Australian gear company has contracted a truly virulent case of the water bag virus. Morgan has the disgraceful distinction of being the second perpetrator of an AquaBag-style marketing fraud downunder.

Morgan H20 Water Bag 35kg (A$249)

| eBay AU |

Morgan H20 Water Bag 55kg (A$299)

| eBay AU |

Those things are nothing more nor less than marine buoys. You can buy functionally identical Polyform A-series marine buoys from marine supply stores for a fraction of the cost. More specifically, the Polyform A-2 (15”) costs A$55, the Polyform A-3 (19”) costs A$84, and the big Polyform A-4 (23”) costs A$97.

If you know of any other Australian gear companies infected by the water bag greed virus, let me know in the comments below!

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Equipment, 0 comments
How to make your own sparbar

How to make your own sparbar

The standard items of equipment for training by yourself in the sport of boxing are the three bags: the heavy bag, the double-end bag, and the speed bag.

I love beating the shit out of the three bags as much as the next person. In particular, there’s nothing quite like a long session of twelve or so solid rounds on the heavy bag.

But however enjoyable it may to show the three bags who’s boss, they can be seriously detrimental for your development as a boxer if your training is overly reliant on them.

The problem, of course, is that the three bags don’t punch you back.

Everyone knows the feeling. You let fly on the bags and you feel like the young Ali. You’re popping away and nothing can touch you. You’re the champ, man!

And then you get into the ring for a spar. You let fly and you miss. Your partner is popping away and everything’s touching you. You’ve got work to do, man…

So it goes after too much bagwork. Not even the double-end bag really punches you back. It just flies around all over the place, sometimes reaching you on the rebound, sometimes not. It certainly doesn’t target you.

Enter the sparbar

The sparbar is a training device intended to at least partially overcome the aforementioned deficiency of the three bags.

In essence, every sparbar comprises a vertical stationary pole, or axis, with a horizontal rotating bar attached to it. The axis may be either wall-mounted or free-standing. You punch the bar and it rotates around the axis and comes right back at you – just like a punch! You then slip it or block it or punch it again to keep it rotating. Either one of those, or it hits you in the head.

A sparbar is obviously no substitute for genuine sparring with a human being. Your sparring partner doesn’t just stand there throwing hooks at your head for you to slip, block, and/or counter. Your sparring partner also throws jabs and uppercuts, moves around the ring, feints, mixes up the levels of attack, and so on. In other words, your sparring partner actually spars.

The sparbar does not. If you want a machine that does that, you’d better study robotics and get to work.

In the meantime, if you train a lot by yourself, I’m of the opinion that your training stands to benefit significantly from the addition of a sparbar. And even if you don’t train solo very often, you may still wish to consider using a sparbar to break up the monotony of traditional bagwork.

Buying a sparbar

So should you go out and buy one? Well, it depends.

Let’s take a look at your options.

The name “Sparbar” is actually a brand and company name that, like the brand name “AquaBag”, has entered boxing vernacular as the common name for a certain kind of training device. I shall use the lowercase “sparbar” to refer to the generic device and the uppercase “Sparbar” to refer to the company.

The inventors of the sparbar founded Sparbar in 2013. The company’s original model of sparbar was wall-mounted, but it soon introduced a free-standing model as well. Imitations of both models have since been released by other companies.

A genuine device from SparBar is a very, very, very expensive proposition.

Sparbar Compact Series (US$299)

| Amazon US |

Sparbar Pro Series (US$699)

| Amazon US |

If you’re an Australian and you want to buy a genuine Sparbar device, you have to order directly from Sparbar. Amazon US won’t ship them downunder.

Innolife and Title produce imitation wall-mounted and free-standing sparbars. Although they’re cheaper than genuine Sparbar devices, they’re still pretty expensive in my opinion.

Innolife Speed Trainer – Wall (US$200)

| Amazon US |

Innolife Speed Trainer ($US200)

| Amazon US |

Innolife Speed Trainer – Punch Ball (US$210)

| Amazon US |

Innolife Speed Trainer – Kick Pad (US$310)

| Amazon US |

Innolife Speed Trainer – Punch Bag (US$300)

| Amazon US |

Title Rapid Reflex (US$200)

| Amazon US |

Title Rapid Reflex Tri-Bag (US$300)

| Amazon US |

There’s no hope for Australians enticed by the lower costs of the Innolife and Title models. Amazon US won’t ship the Title models to Australia. And although it will ship the Innolife models downunder, the additional fees are prohibitive.

There are several other options for Australians, though. Morgan, SMAI, and Viking all sell imitation sparbars.

Morgan Rapid Rotating Bar (AU$289.95)

| eBay AU |

SMAI Boxing Bar (AU$299)

| SMAI |

Viking Spinning Bar (AU$300)

| eBay AU |

So both genuine and imitation sparbars are pretty expensive. What to do? My advice is as follows. 

If you’ve got cash to burn on a new sparbar but neither the time nor inclination to make one yourself, then buy one. You should probably buy a genuine Sparbar, as the imitations tend to be lower quality (or that’s what reviews suggest, anyway). 

If, like me, you don’t have cash to burn on a new sparbar but you’ve got the time and inclination to make one yourself, then this post is for you.

Making a sparbar

I should preface what’s to follow with the declaration that I have no intention of attacking or otherwise undermining the official Sparbar company. 

Sparbar is not a dodgy operation a la AquaBag. I’ve already exposed AquaBag for perpetrating a marketing fraud on the boxing community by selling rebranded marine buoys you can buy for a fraction of the price elsewhere. Sparbar is not doing anything like that.

Genuine Sparbar devices seem to be great products. But I’ve always thought that they’re really expensive considering what you get. After all, they’re hardly products of the technological frontier. So I decided to try and make a sparbar myself, and I think I succeeded.

Note that this guide focuses on the materials and construction of a free-standing sparbar. If you want a wall-mounted sparbar and you’ve got a bit of experience making things yourself, you shouldn’t have much difficulty figuring out how to attach the swivel mechanism to a bracket.



This is the magic component of any sparbar. You need to find something that rotates 360 degrees and to which you can attach a bar (of some sort). I confess that at first I had no idea how to solve the swivel problem. But then one day I was wandering the aisles of a local hardware store when I noticed a swivel caster wheel. This mechanism, it turns out, is very well suited for the job once the wheel has been removed.

Swivel caster wheel

Not long after the serendipitous moment in the hardware store, I learnt of the existence of swivel plates, which seem to be the ideal mechanism.

Swivel plate

If I could’ve done so, I probably would’ve used a swivel plate for my sparbar. At the time of construction, though, I lived in a country with a paucity of hardware supplies and very slow international postage. So I just settled for a caster wheel. Whether you use a swivel plate or swivel caster, make sure it’s robust.


You need something to put the bar in sparbar. For most people wood will be the best substance to use for a bar. Wood is much easier to work with than metal, unless you know how to weld. I personally don’t know how to weld, and in any event I don’t have access to a welding machine. 

A good length is roughly 80cm (31.5”). I used a axe/pick/mattock handle which, incidentally, I noticed on the shelves of the hardware store very soon after noticing the swivel caster wheel. The handle happened to be ideal for me because, firstly, its fat end sits tightly in the swivel caster, and secondly, it is smoothly rounded with no sharp edges. It would be hard to attach to a swivel plate, though, owing to its cylindrical shape.

Axe/pick/mattock handle

A wooden beam would be the easiest thing to attach to a swivel plate owing to the flat surfaces. If you decide to use one for the bar, make sure that it’s not too big and heavy, and take care to file and sand away the sharp edges first. Even with foam or cloth around them, they could pose a risk of injury.


The swivel mechanism has got to be attached to something solid. I used a big heavy fence post with end dimensions of roughly 11.5cm x 11.5cm (4.5” x 4.5”). The end of the post must have ample space for firmly attaching the swivel mechanism. In particular, you don’t want the screws to be too close to the sides of the post.

End of a post

You should be able to buy a post or beam from your local hardware store or timbre dealer. The ideal length of the post will be such that, once the swivel and bar are attached to it, the bar hits you on the side of your chin. Of course, that will be a function of your own height and typical boxing stance. It’s obviously better to overestimate the required length than underestimate it, as overestimation will allow you to cut the post down to size if necessary.

Long post for cutting down to size

If you want to make a wall-mounted sparbar, then you’ll have to make or buy a bracket on which you can attach the swivel mechanism. 


You need a base to keep the post vertical and stationary. As with free-standing heavy bags, the free-standing sparbars made by Sparbar and other companies rely on plastic containers you must fill with sand or water. I used old car tyre filled with concrete and it works perfectly. You should be able to pick up an old car tyre for nothing from you local garbage dump. 


Do not use a huge truck or tractor tyre! To be sure, they’re solid as rocks. But if you use one for the base, its massive circumference could seriously diminish the utility of your sparbar by obstructing your footwork. Furthermore, you almost certainly won’t be able to move a truck or tractor tyre after you’ve filled it with concrete.


I used cement mixed with some sand and stone I already had lying around in my backyard from another project. Most people, however, will be best served by one or two bags of cement pre-mixed with sand and stone. That’s because you only need to add water and hey presto!

Get this and do what it says

I probably would’ve used pre-mixed cement if I could’ve; but at the time of construction I lived in a country with limited hardware supplies and pre-mixed cement wasn’t available in any of my local hardware stores.

Plastic sheeting

You don’t want the wet concrete inside the tyre to damage or stick to the surface on which you construct your sparbar. I put several large household garbage bags underneath the car tyre before filling it with concrete.

Black plastic garbage bags

I’m glad to report that they were sufficiently robust to protect the surface on which I constructed my sparbar. I suppose you could use a tarp or something like that, but if you do make sure it’s a worn-out one. I wouldn’t want to risk ruining a good tarp with an inadvertent shovel strike just for the sake of this project.

Torque reinforcements

I doubt whether it’s necessary to reinforce the post against torque. However, given that I have pretty much no understanding of even the most elementary principles of civil engineering, I generally prefer to over-engineer than under-engineer my projects. Over-engineering reduces the likelihood I’ll need to re-do them. For this project, I used two metal brackets I found in my shed.

Bracket with stay

I think you could obtain similar reinforcement against torque by cheaper and simpler means, such as half-embedding large nails or screws in the lower sides of the post. Or just not worry about it.


Even if you own 20oz Winnings, you’ll need padding on the bar to protect your hands (and your awesome gloves). Oh, and there’s also the small matter of your cranium. A foam tube over the bar, or a foam sheet wrapped around it, would probably be ideal. I decided to use four fluffy tea towels because they were the most suitable things I could find at the time.

Four stylish tea towels

I attached the tea towels to the bar with layer upon layer of polyethylene duct tape, which is pretty soft itself and therefore adds even more padding.

Tennis ball

The end of the bar is harzardous, especially if it has edges. Even if your bar is otherwise well-padded, the edges on its end might still pose a risk. I learnt that lesson the hard way.

Embarrassingly enough, my sparbar caught me above my left eye and opened up a small cut owing to the inadequately covered edges on the end of the bar. Even though – as this incident attests – I’m a bit stupid, I did eventually think of the obvious solution. You just need a tennis ball.


I constructed my free-standing sparbar alone and in accordance with the following 10-step procedure. For all I know there may well be much better methods of construction for this project. I’m just reporting how I did things because, well, it’s how I did things and it worked.

I was doubtful whether it would work, though, and I didn’t take regular photos of my progress through the 10-step procedure presented here. Given that I run this blog, that was weird and stupid. But even though many of my photos are ex post facto, they still give you a pretty good idea about how I went about constructing my sparbar.

1 – Cut the post down to the appropriate length. It should come up to roughly the middle or upper-middle of your neck, depending on the shape and size of the swivel mechanism. You want the bar to rotate on the swivel mechanism so it hits you on the side of your chin.

See? I’m not just making this stuff up

2 – Attach the swivel mechanism to the top of the post with screws. Pre-drill screw holes to prevent the screws from causing structurally deleterious cracks or splits in the wood.

Swivel caster screwed firmly down
Screws embedded far from edges

3 – Attach the torque reinforcements (if any) to the lower sides of the post. Ensure they’re low enough that they’ll end up mostly if not entirely submerged in concrete.

Brackets for torque reinforcement

4 – Set down plastic sheeting (e.g. garbage bags), lay the tyre down on it, and stand the post in the centre of the tyre. The post should remain upright without any support.

5 – Prepare the concrete in a large bucket or on plastic sheeting. Thoroughly mix everything together as instructed by the cement manufacturer. Use a shovel for a bit of a workout. Cement mixers are for wimps.

A fine bag of cement

6 – Shovel the concrete into the tyre. Spread it around evenly as you go. Fill the tyre right up to the top, otherwise the base may end up too weak and/or too light. And you want to avoid creating attractive lodgings for spiders, vermin, and other unwelcome characters.

Strong and heavy base

7 – Allow the concrete to cure for several hours or even overnight like I did. The base should be pretty solid before you move on to the next step, as you don’t want to accidentally tilt the post in the concrete.

8 – Attach the bar to the swivel mechanism. The best way to do that will depend on the structure of the swivel mechanism and the structure of the bar. You may need to drill one or more holes in the bar for fasteners. I had to drill a big hole for a bolt in the fat end of the axe/pick/mattock handle.

Bolt hole in bar
Bar mounted on swivel mechanism
Extra support to help maintain bar at desired height

9 – Attach the tennis ball and padding on the end of the bar where you’ll punch it. Ensure you cover a section at least 25cm (10”) in length. Use layered polyethylene duct tape to secure the ball and padding because it’ll provide even more protection.

Tennis ball covering end of bar
Tea towels used as padding
Tennis ball and padding attached with duct tape

10 – Wipe the sweat from your brow and admire the product of your own handiwork! You should avoid enthusiastically testing it out with bare knuckles. Trust me. I told you I was a bit stupid.

Ready to rumble!

Have you considered making your own sparbar? Or have you actually made one? Let me know about your ideas and experiences in the comments below!

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Equipment, 2 comments