With society's growing appetite for instant gratification, patience barely has a pulse. The faster, the better seems to apply in just about every aspect of life these days, especially in the sports world.
Noah Zuhdi recently discovered the express road to the top of the boxing world is paved with more than heart, talent and determination " and that it requires a level of diligence that transcends desire and dedication. All of the aforementioned qualities are staples in the young fighter's framework, including patience.
The reality of what Zuhdi hopes will be the final ingredient to future success came courtesy of a smashing right jab from Reymundo Hernandez back on Feb. 11. After reeling off nine consecutive knockout victories to start his professional career, the 27-year-old Oklahoma City boxer found himself on the receiving end of a similar result.
"The majority of the time, I tell my young fighters, 'Don't let a loss detour you from your goals,'" said trainer Buck Smith. "But I didn't need to tell Noah that. He realizes this is a process and that he is still learning his way around the ring. The loss only made him more determined to succeed.
"As soon as that last fight was over, we went to work on finding what we needed to correct. Since then, we've been working to get it right."
Zuhdi will get the opportunity to prove just how right Friday night as part of the main fight card being presented by catBOX Entertainment at the Cox Convention Center. While world-ranked heavyweight Eric "Danger" Fields battles Edward Gutierrez in the featured attraction, Zuhdi will try to get back on the right track against Louisiana fighter John Temple.
"Losing is never easy, but you have to realize it's part of the sport," said Zuhdi. "I feel like I have handled it well. It made me put things into perspective and has helped me identify areas I need to improve on."
Zuhdi was a standout athlete at Heritage Hall High School and went on to play college basketball at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan., and St. Gregory's University in Shawnee. His maturation process as a boxer began a little over two years ago when he decided to take up the sport professionally, despite having no amateur experience.
"Anytime you are learning a new skill, it's a process. Fortunately, I picked up on it fairly quickly " not because I'm some phenomenal athlete, but more because of my work ethic and determination," he said.
Ironically, those same qualities that got him off to a fast start proved to be culprits in his first ring loss.
"We looked at all of the elements that could have contributed to my performance that night, and basically narrowed it down to the fact I was training too hard," said Zuhdi, the current Oklahoma lightweight champion. "I was working too hard, and I wasn't 100 percent. I learned that overtraining can be almost as bad as undertraining."
Smith trained Zuhdi when he initially got into boxing, but departed after his first few fights to work on other ventures. After the February loss, the former fighter was asked to rejoin Zuhdi's corner.
"Noah has great potential. I wouldn't be working with him if he didn't," said Smith. "He's a kid with a lot of heart, determination and desire, and he's dedicated himself to learning the sport. But that's one thing everyone has to remember: He's still learning how to box and not just be a fighter.
"He's not a contender at this point, because he's only had 10 pro fights. He's still in the learning stages of his career, mainly because he had no amateur experience. But he's becoming more and more fluent in the ring, and he's on pace to become a solid prospect on a much bigger scale in the near future."
Zuhdi believes his basketball background has helped him deal with the pressures that accompany being a pro athlete. And with Smith's expertise back on his team, some major opportunities are waiting down the road.
But there's no huge rush to get there.
"My long-term goal is to be a world champion. But that's not going to happen overnight. I'm anxious to move forward and put this loss behind me, but I also know patience is a big key," Zuhdi said. "As for short-term goals, I need to catch up from an experience standpoint. Do it the right way and realize it will take time and lots of hard work to reach my goal."
Zuhdi and the rest of the catBOX Entertainment crew will be making their debut at the Cox Convention Center, after having previously called Remington Park its home venue. The first punch is set for 8 p.m. Friday.
For tickets, call 1-800-595-4849 or visit www.tix.com.