To the untrained eye, Boxing to many is just a mindless slug fest, two men(or women) step inside a ring in front of hundreds or thousands of fans and commence to pummel each other until one is defeated, there’s no thinking involved, just a battle of brute strength to see who hits the hardest and who lands the most punches.
But nothing could be further from the truth, Boxing is like a game of Chess(albeit a very painful game of Chess), the aim of the game is to hit and not be hit back in return because lets face it – no one likes to be hit in the head by a trained fighter.
Boxing is full of defensive masterminds, you may know the more famous names such as recently retired Floyd Mayweather Jnr, undoubtedly one of the greatest Boxers but also arguably the greatest ever defensive mind to grace the sport, but there are others who deserve mention, George Benton, Nicolino Locche, James Toney, Pernell Whitaker(incidentally he was coached by George Benton), Wilfred Benitez, Julio Cesar Chavez all immediately spring to mind. These are Boxers who will pick up on your patterns and use your own patterns to counter against your attacks and even your movement.
This is what I would like to point out here, it not just the punches you throw, or the punches you block which must not be predictable, it is also the way you move and slip. A good Boxer will tend to pick up on a pattern having seen it twice from their opponent, once they have figured this pattern out, they will be waiting, sometimes even baiting you into the same movement, and will then either beat you to the punch or counter punch once you have completed your move(whether your move be a defensive or attacking manoeuvre)
Here are two examples of what I am referring too. A common way of defending the jab is to block the jab with your left glove(if you are an orthodox/right handed puncher), if a Boxer is continuously defending the jab in the same manner, their opponent can quickly change tactics to exploit this same defense. What you should ideally be looking to do, is to defend against the jab in different ways so your opponent cannot pre-empt their strike knowing exactly how you will defend to it. You can block the jab with your left glove, or block it with your rear glove, you can slip outside, duck down or slip inside – mix it up. From these moves you can counter in a different way, if you block the jab with your rear hand, throw your cross(using the same hand you blocked with) or return fire with a left jab of yourown, slipping outside can lead into you throwing your cross, slipping inside means you can throw a screw jab or a wide right hook to the body, ducking down would enable you to throw a jab to the body, blocking with your left glove(for orthodox/right handed fighters) you could either parry the shot and go straight into a jab, or block the jab and throw your cross, all of these options are available to you – use them! Of course fighters have 1 or 2 they will inevitably favour but keep your opponent guessing, if you can win the battle of the jabs, there’s a very high chance you will win the fight.
The 2nd example involves your movement, as a Boxer you should always be looking to move, not just moving around the ring, but moving your head too, even when out of range – a moving target is much harder to hit, as the legendary Muhammad Ali famously roared ‘Your hands cant hit what your eyes cant see!’ When moving around the ring, keep your head moving, put a slip in or two, roll under, for example move, stop, bounce, slip inside, roll under, move away then your next movement could be a simple bounce and slip outside, then continue and perhaps try slip outside, slip inside, roll under. This constant movement and change up of how you move will prevent your opponent getting proper timing down on his punches and prevent them from being able to key in on a strategy to break you down, try your own combinations of body and head movements but always remember – keep them guessing and don’t ever be a standing target!
Boxing Coach Strength and Conditioning Coach Boxing Writer for the Ringside Report Boxing Author of: (Available for download on Amazon) The Boxing Cheat Sheet - Your Ultimate Guide to Ring Survival Strength and Conditioning for Boxing - Work out Hits to get you Fighting Fit! Forgotten Legends of the Ring - Ten Past Masters of the Squared Circle