SHERIDAN – Isaac Harbor didn’t feel nervous when his dad first asked him if he wanted to get in a boxing ring.
He avoided stress when he started training and shrugged off any anxiety as his opponents changed and the months of preparation slipped away.
Then Monday came. A few days before his first amateur boxing match, the butterflies appeared.
“I’m like, ‘OK, this isn’t just a physical battle. It’s also a mental game,” Harbor said. “I’ve dealt with stress and anxiety (in past situations), but it’s a different form. So it’s interesting. It’s not something I anticipated. And it’s not fear. It’s just uncharted waters, so it’s a different kind of nerfs.
Harbor will face Sam Jenkins on Saturday at Sheridan County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall. His father, David Harbor of Harbor Chiropractic, has sponsored around 70 boxing events in town since 2005, but this weekend marks the first time he’s hosted one since May 2019. His son and a few other first-time fighters are on the menu, which starts at 7 p.m.
David Harbor had approached the young Harbor about boxing in the past, but that never materialized until now.
“We had a lot of talks as Isaac grew up,” David Harbor said. “He was really athletic, but he just didn’t want to play sports. I always said he should wrestle or play football, but he was into other things.
“I was so cool,” Harbor shouted from across the gym, prompting a laugh from his dad.
Harbour, 25, spent four years in the United States Marine Corps after graduating from high school. He returned home to Sheridan after his military term ended in the summer of 2019, but COVID restrictions prevented his father and other promoters in town from hosting events.
When restrictions eased and David Harbor started planning on Saturday night last October, he asked his son if he wanted to fight. He was in it without much conviction.
“It always made sense that I would at some point,” said Harbour, whose father and older brother Blake Harbor boxed and competed in mixed martial arts. “(The timing) felt natural now. I’m a little surprised it took this long.
He began training around Thanksgiving, learning from both his father and the town’s boxing trainer, Cody Quarterman. Quarterman was also David Harbor’s first coach years ago. When young Harbor started out, people around him said he naturally fought like his father.
He trains two days a week, does bag work a few other times, and focuses on improving his cardio. Training never shocked him because he saw his dad and brother go through it when he was younger. David Harbor has a training gym at the back of Harbor Chiropractic.
“I feel like I have the best sparring partners in, like, all of Wyoming,” Harbor said. “They really push me. They are really good, so it makes me feel good.
He mostly learned by watching and then imitating the seasoned boxers he trains with. He trains with competitors like local champion Brad Klepperich, who will defend his light heavyweight title on Saturday. The physical side came easy, but Harbor peppered his peers with questions about the mental side of things. The main thing he learned: recognize and embrace nervousness and stay as calm as possible. Oh, and don’t forget to breathe.
“It’s a very interesting situation,” said John Bublich, a veteran who will announce the games on Saturday. “It’s like a nervous mess with big rewards.”
Bublich has fought 61 times, including dozens of events hosted by David. He said Harbor was one step ahead of him because he hadn’t practiced once before his first fight. Bublich still won, but it was exhausting. He doesn’t think he breathed until the second round.
“You’re not ready for the adrenaline and the fatigue that you’re feeling,” Bublich said. “You throw so many punches and you don’t breathe. Everything is tense. »
Harbor did not see or attempt to find his opponent’s video, which changed three times due to the first three pullbacks. His new challenger, Jenkins, was only solidified earlier this week.
Harbor took to his Facebook page to see what he looks like, but he wants to focus on honing his own skills, not defending against his opponent’s. Both weigh around 180 pounds.
“What did Mike Tyson say?” his father asked. “‘Everyone has a game plan until they get punched in the mouth?'”
Harbor isn’t quite sure what Saturday will be like, but he could see himself sticking to boxing in the future.
“I love the training and I love the culture,” Harbor said. “I’ve always been a fan of fighting – more MMA than boxing – but let’s see how the first one goes. If it’s this giant rush and I’m having a good time, win or lose, then I am sure there will be more.
“But the first one, we’ll start there.”