Pass the big bowl of nothing: PBC fighters talk sticking to training around the holidays

Boxing and Thanksgiving go hand-in-hand. Why else would Adam Sandler name-check Mike Tyson in his “Thanksgiving Song?” And who could forget Paulie chucking the Thanksgiving turkey in the alley because Adrian wouldn’t go out with Rocky?

Boxing thanksgiving

Today, we give thanks for punching. (Illustration by Colby Bryant / Premier Boxing Champions)

OK, maybe not every intersection of boxing and Thanksgiving is Norman Rockwell-esque.

Especially not for fighters who have to do battle around the holidays. The guys who went last night? They had it easy. They got to go through their normal routines and celebrate today with an extra slice of pie.

For every other boxer who has a fight between Black Friday and the middle of January? It means skipping out when everyone around you is indulging in a symphony of seasonal gluttony. Thanksgiving? Christmas? New Year’s Day? Maybe all three? It all gets sacrificed to the scale.

Sergio Mora laughed at the idea. The former 154-pound champ and current 160-pound contender wasn’t sure if he’d ever scheduled a fight around the holidays. He must have blocked it out, though, as he had one December 11 last year, when he won a unanimous decision over Dashon Johnson.

“Even if I did have to sacrifice, I’m a professional,” Mora said. “Every day is Thanksgiving when you’re cutting weight. Everything looks like a fucking turkey. I was really hungry to get back to a title shot. I was a man on a mission there, so turkey was second.”

Sammy Vasquez Jr., who is coming off a TKO victory over Jose Lopez in October, is hoping to fight again in January. Some guys in that situation would pump the brakes on figgy pudding during the Christmas season, but Vasquez said he’s never had trouble hitting 147 pounds. He walks around between 162 and 165, so it’s not a brutal cut when the time comes.

“I don’t really have a diet,” Vasquez said. “I eat what I want to eat. I’m content with that. When it comes to fighting, I really only cut it down that last week. It’s not like I don’t eat or deprive myself of food. I just know what works for me. I’ll eat less food but more portions.”

Chris Arreola, who returns to the ring December 12 against Travis Kauffman, is at least in an enviable position. Being a heavyweight, he never has to worry about hitting a certain number when he steps on the scale. This is the guy, after all, who famously used the “pizza is delicious” defense when he weighed in at 262 for his fight with Curtis Harper in March. (Go ahead. Argue all you want, but he wasn’t wrong.)

“I’m a heavyweight,” he said. “I can eat whatever the hell I want. My family is only an hour away. I get to spend the weekend with the family, and weekdays it’s time to grind. It’s not that hard for me at all.”

Errol Spence Jr. drew the unenviable post of fighting on Saturday. And since his weigh-in isn't until Friday, there’s really not much he can do around the dinner table today besides muster up a healthy dose of jealousy.

At least it’s nothing new for him.

“I’m used to it,” Spence said. “I don’t think I’ve had a Thanksgiving in probably about five or six years. Even in amateurs, I was always overseas or fighting in a tournament.

"I know I’ve got to take care of business. This is my job. I’ve got to stay focused. I’ll have food after I weigh in.”

Sure. But there’s not even a little bit of temptation when you’re sitting there watching everyone go HAM on ham?

“I don’t know if I’m going to sit at the table,” he said. “I might get a hotel or something. I’m not gonna put myself through that.”

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