Camden Courier-Post – October 12, 2007
by Don Benevento
The first thing a boxer has to learn to do well is box.
That means there will most likely always be a place for the traditional boxing gyms where prospects go to pound the heavy bag, bat around the speed bag and spar with other prospects.
But in recent years boxers and other athletes have been trying to supplement their old-style training techniques by attending modern fitness centers where they have access to high-tech, scientific equipment that can help them sharpen their skills.
That’s why, since his early exit from ESPN’s “The Contender” last month, Camden super middleweight Max Alexander has been blending his boxing gym work with regular visits to the Summit Fitness Center in Cherry Hill.
There he works with personal trainer Wendell Johnson and he’s able to use the equipment he believes will give him more stamina and better prepare him for future bouts.
“I came here because I want to be in tip-top shape,” Alexander said. “In this place I can get a one-on-one session with a personal trainer who wants to see me do good. If I do good, it means he did good. So it’s a team effort.”
Summit general manager Jason Edleman said this type of training is fairly new for boxers.
Former middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins popularized the idea when he used similar facilities to prepare for his title bouts.
“We want to utilize the latest technology and science in training,” Edleman said. “Guys can go to their boxing gym and do their sparring and learn their techniques. But the flip side is what we can provide with the new technology.”
One thing Alexander wants to improve is his stamina. In his loss to Soliman some critics felt he wore down in the later rounds.
That’s where Johnson’s expertise comes into play.
“I train in making quick bursts,” he said. “I want to keep him moving so that he’s not slacking through the rounds. A lot of it is mental — keeping him moving, keep him confident, keep his hands flying because he holds back some time.”
One of the pieces of equipment that Alexander now uses is a large treadmill that can tilt at a 40-degree angle, creating the effect of running uphill or downhill. The machine spins at a rate of 28 mph.
Alexander uses the treadmill to get his wind up. He can develop coordination by shadow boxing while jogging both forward and backward at a fairly high rate of speed.
“We’re trying to get him stronger in his legs so that he can last throughout the fight,” Edleman said. “We want him to keep his power, stay off the ropes and be more offensive. His boxing managers have their plans, but we’re working on a lot of different things — power work, core work, a lot of flexibility.”