The video in this article features Arturo Gatti, now Gatti is setting up the body shot but there is so much more we can learn from what he is doing.
Firstly, yes Gatti sets up the shot to the body by hitting up top. A more basic example of this is touching up top with a jab before going down below with a hard hook to the body.
What we see Arturo Gatti doing here is very smart, it is not simply about touching up top and going down below with the body punch. Gatti throws the jab, cross and hook at his opponents guard – not at his face, he is not really trying to land his combination and as you can see he is landing on the gloves, almost knocking one of the gloves out of the way. What Gatti is doing is obstructing his opponents vision and occupying his guard to hide his true intentions, which is the power shot he is setting up behind those punches. Notice how Gatti throws the combination to the guard using speed and then loads up down below with a power shot to the liver, resulting in the knockout.
This is how you set up your combinations, the last shot of your combo is the power shot, the first few punches are snappy fast punches which set up the shot you really want to land. The reasoning behind this isn’t just setting a trap for your opponent, it is also because throwing fast snappy punches aid in pacing yourself throughout a long fight of 10+ rounds. If you were to load up with every punch you threw, the result would be a very tired fighter by the mid way point. An example of this is the war between Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler. The fight was great, it was action packed but Hearns had expended all of his energy by round three because he was constantly throwing bombs, this left him devoid of any energy to continue.
Fighters such as Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather Jr are two great examples of boxers who use snappy punches. Neither were known for hitting hard although they could bang when they needed too – ie when the opponent was tired or hurt, but they could fight all night because they would use snappy punches, which still sting but don’t empty the gas tank as quickly as loading up on your punches does – Mike Tyson was a great puncher and wanted to knock you out with every punch he threw and he would often slide in the second in the second half of the fight.
Watch the video below and have a look at how Arturo Gatti sets up the knockout blow by using the first three punches in his combination as a decoy to what he is going to throw after. Excellent boxing by ‘Thunder’ Gatti.