One of the most difficult fights in the ring you can ever experience is against an opponent who has a significant height advantage over you. You may be the better boxer with more technical skills in the ring, but a tall boxer can overcome all of that and leave you feeling incredibly frustrated by not even giving you the chance to showcase your ability by fighting just outside of range using their jab to keep you at a distance.
In this article I am going to give you a few pointers on how to fight someone taller than you. Before I begin, I want to stress you must be physically fit to effectively handle a taller Boxer. More so than you would be against any other opponent, with the possible exception of a pressure fighter. The reason being is you will need to have great footwork to quickly step in and out of range against a taller opponent and without being very fit, your footwork is going to fail you. These are mistakes I have experienced in the past so before you take on a fight against a much taller opponent, make sure you are in great condition and have practiced beforehand against a taller Boxer in sparring – it will help you no end.
OK so let’s get to it – the 1st and most important tip is you must be able to close the gap against someone taller than you. There are different ways to do this, the most common way to do this is the double arm block, keep the head low by using the duck and simply move in quickly walking down your opponent to get in close. Does it work? Yes, do I think its the most effective method, No. If you are tiring or don’t possess great footwork then maybe this will work for you, be careful of eating hooks around your guard though and you should be proficient in cutting off the ring if you are going to use this method.
I prefer to advise closing the gap using quick footwork to get into range. The following may sound like basic advice but believe me a lot of Boxers are not putting this into practice, when you are closing the gap you MUST move your feet first, and then your hands. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? If you are fighting outside of range, and you decide to throw a double jab to get into range, your opponent has his eyes on your eyes so they will quickly see your jabs coming, making it easy for them to step back out of range again, or even counter you because they have picked up your punches. If you move your feet first, it is much more difficult for them to see this since it is not in their peripheral vision, then you follow with your shots. An example of closing the distance would be move your feet first, so a longer step than usual, almost lunging into range but using a dip, you would then punch off the dip and then you follow up with your shots so dipping in, punching off the dip, step in jab, step in jab, cross if you wanted to throw the double jab cross after moving into range. Moving in behind a double or triple jab is another great way of closing the gap, just be sure you always finish your punches with a head movement.
Another way to use footwork to get into range against a taller Boxer would be to slip and slide into range, this involves an almost diagonal method to your footwork as you slide from side to side whilst bobbing and weaving. Head movement will obviously come into play when fighting taller opponents especially when fighting on the outside and looking to get inside so ensure you are keeping the head moving. Use the double roll followed by the hook and cross or roll, left hook, roll, right cross(if you are orthodox/right handed, reverse if you are southpaw/left handed)perhaps a video is in order for the above in future to demonstrate the required footwork.
Proper footwork is essential in all fights but more so against a taller Boxer, else they will just use their height and reach advantage to fight on the outside never letting you get close to them so increase your work on your footwork before you fight a taller opponent.
Speed. Focus on speed and not power when fighting taller opponents. Constantly fire off quick punches to the chest, especially the jab. Make your opponent drop their guard by going for quick shots to the body. The body is always in range and when it comes to reach, it is easier to punch the body than the head. Taller fighters will have longer arms, which means it takes longer for them to retract their punch, timing your punch as their arm is retracting is a great way to get to a taller fighter so this means stepping in with your shots. Once you see the guard dropping from body shots, this is when you go up top with your punches. When you decide to throw your shots up top, use the overhand right, because of the angle it is thrown, it is very difficult for a taller Boxer to pick up on this, increasing your chances of a successful shot. Switch levels with your punching, this means go low and then go high to the head, this works great against fighters taller than you ie throw a body shot followed by an uppercut to the head.
Throw punches in bunches, you will be moving in and out of range, so when you do get into range using the above, make it count by unloading a high number of punches. Same as above, use low, high combinations. Another good example of this is throwing the jab to the body followed by the cross to the head. Once you have thrown volume punches, tie your opponent up with a clinch so they are unable to free their longer arms because there are two areas you are most at risk of getting caught with a punch, on the way in and on the way out.
Let your opponent come to you. Sometimes you won’t even need to close the gap because you can draw your opponent in. Taller fighters tend to fight on the outside because they are so used to keeping the opposition at range on the outside of their jab. Try to bait them in and have them closing the gap themselves, this is something a taller fighter may not be used to so can work in your advantage. This is also where you want to time your punches as they retract their punch as was mentioned earlier in the article because fighting on the back foot you will be looking to counter their shots. I will say here though, in order to pull this off successfully you must have explosive leg strength not only because fighting/moving on the back foot takes more out of you but because you will need to explode into your punches from moving backwards. How do you bait your opponent in? An example would be dropping your jabbing hand just enough for your opponent to see that side is exposed and bait them to throw their cross, you can see an example of this here in a video I have made previously using the Pull Counter(click here).
So those are my top tips for taking on taller Boxers, some fights you can view to see examples of the tactics you can use are Floyd Mayweather Jnr v Diego Corrales and Manny Pacquio v Antonio Margarito. I hope this is of use to you the next time you are in the situation but just remember, this won’t help a bit if you don’t keep yourself fit!
Boxing Coach Strength and Conditioning Coach Boxing Author of: 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 *Any videos or images used on this site to support my articles that are copyrighted are used in accordance to the fair use act and are not my own - all credit is due to the respective owners. No copyright infringement intended.
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