48 Ways to Counter the Jab
George Benton once famously quipped he had 48 ways to counter the jab. Now George Benton was a masterful boxer and studied the sport both when he was boxing and when he was a coach – at which he would become a hall of fame boxing trainer. Benton’s biggest strength was his defence, I’ve talked extensively about the philly shell and shoulder roll on this site and when it comes to using the actual philly shell then there were few if any better than Benton himself. Benton was from Philadelphia and possessed one of the greatest defences we have ever seen inside the squared circle. Benton’s defence was so good and his ring IQ so sharp, he became known as ‘The Professor’. His skills were so good that he even once sparred the dangerous heavyweight champion of the world, Sonny Liston! Benton himself was a middleweight and when sparring Liston he made the heavyweight miss so much that Liston began to get frustrated, winding up more and more and loading more and more power in to each shot. With Benton making Liston miss, after 3-4 rounds the trainer wisely called it off before Liston had the chance to catch up with Benton – although it should be noted that Benton was never knocked out in a fight, infact I don’t believe he was ever knocked down in a fight?
George Benton was also one of the fighters I included in my book Forgotten Legends of the Ring. Benton was the number one middleweight for a time in the 1960’s and despite beating 3 future world champions – including Jimmy Ellis who would actually win the title at heavyweight, Benton was denied his chance to compete for the middleweight championship of the world. Now having a great defence isn’t going to matter much if you are not throwing anything back at your opponent and Benton was also a great counter puncher, the video below looks at many of the ways Benton countered the jab of his opponent. The jab is of course the most oft used punch in boxing, known as the can opener because it sets up any number of punches and moves behind its use, if you fail to stop the jab you are in for a long night but if you can counter the jab, you have set yourself up for victory because by taking away the punch which is coming at you the most, you make the fight more predictable for you and thus an easier fight.
Now I am not going to outline all of his counters, you can view the video for that – what is interesting though is his subtle differences in countering the jab, for example he may counter the jab with a straight right, next he might use the right hand again but this time it is an overhand right. He could counter with a left hook to the body and the next time counter with the left hook to the head. What we see here is the ability to mix up his counters making Benton less predictable to his opponent, if Benton was using the same counter each time it would allow his opponent to set a trap to counter Benton’s counter punch. Watch the video below to see a master at work.