Sparring is a fundamental but often undervalued and poorly used tool for trainers and boxers. The purpose of sparring is for the boxer to put the tools together and prepares the boxer mentally and physically for the real thing. Basic sparring should be directed in such a way that the trainer and boxer plans each round and sparring session, reviews each session, and repeats the plan over and over. Sparring in preparation for a fight also involves planning each session and round, in addition to focusing on the upcoming opponent's style and adjusting strategy accordingly, and should become lighter as the fight approaches.
++++JC Chavez and de la Hoya Sparring++++
Boxers spar so often but often undervalue its benefits. Sparring gives the opportunity to improve form, style, balance, along with all other tools, putting it all together, rather than focusing on winning the session or hurting the sparring partner. The boxer becomes prepared mentally by focusing all his effort on his specific plan for the round and the session. Physically, he not only gains endurance and stamina, but with focus on form and style he will set those moves into his muscle memory so that they occur naturally.
Basic sparring --that is, for beginners and experienced boxers not training for a specific fight -- has certain factors that must be met to be most effective. The trainer should have a specific plan for the sparring session as a whole, and for each individual round. For example, the trainer would use a round to have the boxer stay only in the center of the ring, or cut off the ring from a foot-loosed fighter, or even land a certain specific punch a specific amount of times. This is equivalent to a football trainer having the players go over a play again and again. Why not in boxing? Review the session and round during (even pausing the sparring if necessary) and after to make sure that the boxer sticks with the plan and does it correctly. Then repeat the plan again and again until it becomes a habit.
Sparring for a specific fight requires more than basic sparring. Again, the boxer and trainer must have a specific plan for each session and specific round, even more so now because of the limited time leading up to a fight. The boxer must focus on the upcoming opponent's style and the adjustments to be made so that the boxer is most effective against that style. Simply sparring for endurance and even worse, to lose weight, simply doesn't cut it if you want to become a champion or top-level fighter. And as the fight approaches, the sparring should become lighter to rest the body and allow more emphasis on form and defense.
Sparring is serious business and shouldn't be taken lightly. If a trainer does not closely monitor, plan, and review each session bad form not only occurs but eventually becomes set in body and mind and becomes difficult, though not impossible, to change. Lack of planning and monitoring over time leads to the dreaded sparring partner mentality that is impossible to change. So spar right, spar often, and take it seriously.