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Le’Veon Bell says preparing for a fight is ‘hands down’ tougher than training camp in the NFL: ‘It’s not even close’

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Le’Veon Bell spent 11 seasons in the NFL where he was a three-time Pro Bowler, a first team All-NFL player for two seasons and he was the first player ever to rush for over 150 yards in each of his first two playoff appearances.

A lot of the production on the field came from the preparation that Bell did before the games ever started but now he’s putting even more work towards his new career as a professional boxer. After closing the book on football, the now 30-year-old Ohio native is putting his full attention on boxing where he’s about to make his debut against UFC veteran Uriah Hall as part of the undercard for the event headlined by Jake Paul vs. Anderson Silva.

While there’s nothing easy about an NFL training camp, Bell admits that getting ready for a boxing match has required even more out of him.

“Hands down preparing for a fight [is tougher],” Bell said during a press conference on Thursday. “It’s not even close. Don’t get me wrong, football camps are hard, it was tough on my body but that was before I actually knew about a boxing camp. I was unaware of that.

“I was in a whole new field when I actually started getting some boxing workouts and understand how tough and intense the workouts are. That’s everyday, every time you’re working out. Yeah, I would say boxing for sure [is harder].”

Right now, Bell is still being treated as a novelty in combat sports because he’s a football player attempting to make the move into boxing.

It’s the same transition dozens of other high profile athletes from various professional sports have made in the past with varying degrees of success.

Despite football being his background, Bell says his days running with the rock on the field are over and now his only focus has been preparing for his new career in the ring.

“It definitely won’t be football [in my future]. It’s boxing,” Bell said. “I’m done with the football thing because I can’t really go back and forth with boxing to football. It’s so hard to box and still try to do football. Boxing is one of those things you’ve got to be all the way in on. That’s something that I’ve been trying to do. It’s boxing for me.

“I think a lot of people just don’t know how serious I actually take it. So they feel like I bit off more than I could chew because they don’t know exactly what I’ve been doing or how hard I’ve been working or how seriously I’ve been taking this sport. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity, a great test and we’ll see what happens.”

Whether he’s a running back in the NFL or a boxer trading punches in the ring, Bell is still participating in contact sports, which also comes with a certain level of risk attached to it.

The NFL has been facing tremendous criticism in recent weeks over the league’s concussion protocols after Miami Dolphins’ quarterback Tua Tagovailoa appeared to suffer head trauma in a game yet he was allowed to continue playing. The former Alabama standout then played again four days later before he was tossed to the ground during a sack while playing against the Cincinnati Bengals that left him motionless on the field for the next 10 minutes.

Thankfully, Tagovailoa appears to be on the road to recovery now but the NFL has been forced to react and make changes to hopefully ensure more players won’t suffer the same fate.

Meanwhile, boxing has seen dozens of horror stories over the years with fighters facing all sorts of long term health issues from taking too much damage in the ring not to mention a number of deaths caused by severe brain trauma.

For Bell, he says that the potential for further harm to his body or brain wasn’t necessarily on his mind when he decided to move from football to boxing even if the parallels between the two sports is undeniable.

“People mention it, people say things to me about it but even in football me just being a natural competitor like I am, I’m not thinking about it like that,” Bell said. “Even in football games, if I got the ball like 20 or 25 times, I wasn’t getting concussed or had headaches, things like that. I was a guy I feel like I wasn’t getting hit clean or whatever it was in football. I was getting tackled but I wasn’t getting hit the way other people were getting hit.

“Same with boxing. I go out there when I box, I feel like I’m not trying to get punched. Obviously, you can’t go out here and box and not expect to get punched but I’m not going out here expecting to get punched. If that was the case, I wouldn’t be boxing. I’m not going out there trying to think about what it could do to me or how I’m going to feel because obviously at the end of the day, I’m trying to be good at it. So if I’m doing the sport, the point of it is not to be getting hit. If I’m getting hit too much, I shouldn’t be doing the sport.”

By all accounts, Bell feels better than ever as he approaches his first pro boxing match and he wants to excel in his new sport just like he did in football.

“I guess I’m considered old in football but I obviously don’t feel that way,” Bell said. “I feel great physically and obviously boxing, I feel even younger. I feel I can do this for years to come.

“I don’t know exactly how long but I know it won’t be a one-off, two off. I’ll be around for a minute, continually trying to get better, trying to find opponents and sharpening my skills. But I plan on doing this.”

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