In recent weeks we have seen a few fights which really highlighted the importance of the Jab. With a couple of those fights what was so obvious was the lack of ability to counter the jab. When the young heavyweight prospect Daniel Dubois faced off against Joe Joyce, Dubois was really being hyped as the future of heavyweight boxing – but against Joyce, Dubois had no answer to the jab. Joyce continued to hit Dubois throughout the fight with the jab until Dubois’ eye socket was damaged and he could not go on and lost the fight. It seemed that Dubois just did not know what to do against the jab and once he realised he also couldn’t break Joyce’s chin, he literally just ran out of ideas.
We also saw Anthony Yarde lose a fight to Lyndon Arthur where Arthur had injured his right hand so was mostly just throwing the jab yet Yarde couldn’t get past it and the result was another loss for Yarde who just like Dubois had seemingly been hyped up into the next big thing.
So I decided to take a look at a few fights from history’s past to see how some of the all time greats countered the jab and first up was the greatest living boxing of our times, Roberto Duran. Now Duran began his career as a Super Featherweight I believe and quickly ended up dominating the lightweight division(135lbs) before seeking more challenges in the higher weight classes. Duran would end up a champion at Middleweight(160lbs) beating a much bigger opponent in Iran Barkley and his ability to counter the jab was a big reason why – I have also previously made a video on this fight titled ‘Over the Top’ which demonstrated Duran’s tactics of constantly throwing the right cross over the top of Barkley’s low returning jab which you can view HERE).
The first counter we see Duran use to counter the jab is the rear hand parry and punch. Duran uses his rear hand to parry the jab of Barkley and then in one motion he follows through with the right cross, in this instance the counter punch just falls short but that isn’t a problem because it makes Barkley aware of it.
Next we see Duran use the touch jab to draw Barkley into leading with the counter, when Barkley bites and does so, Duran uses the pullback to avoid the punch and then return with a rear uppercut which lands to the body which is now open as Barkley attempted to throw the left hook, exposing the body.
Then we yet again see Duran using the jab as bait, this time he is on the ropes and he invites Barkley in by touching with the jab, when Barkley does come in to counter he has fallen into Durans trap, which was the left hook to the head which lands on Barkley.
The next counter we see from Duran is the outside slip with the right hook to the body, slipping to the outside is generally safer because you are slipping away from punches as opposed to inside where you have to protect against the right hand of an orthodox opponent.
The very next counter though is the inside slip, I would always advise to pick up on your opponents patterns before you attempt the inside slip so you are not running into a right hand, here Duran slips inside the jab and follows through with the left shovel hook to the body, just to be safe against any oncoming punches, Duran rolls under after the punch to avoid a left hook.
The famous Pull Counter comes next, made popular by the likes of Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather Jr – This is a move where you pull the head back or lean back from the opponents jab and immediately counter back with your right cross, Duran does this over the low returning jab of Barkley and hits the target. You can also pullback and counter back the jab which Duran does effectively later on in the fight. Duran adds a wrinkle to this one though by creating an illusion he is closer than he actually is by gently rocking the head back and forth, when the jab comes he can easily rock back and counterpunch.
Another counter to the jab Duran uses is very effective if you happen to be the shorter fighter which he is in this case against Iran Barkley. When Barkley throws the jab, Duran slips to the outside and at the same time he throws his jab to the body – against a taller opponent you really wanted to be going for the biggest target which is the body.
Your legs are the first line of defence so Duran makes good use of them for his next counter where he steps back out from the jab to make the punch fall short, then steps back in with his 1-2(jab and cross), notice how Duran falls into the cross to initiate the clinch so Barkley cannot then punch him in return.
Finally we see what Duran was looking to do all night long, with Barkley constantly bringing the hand in low after throwing the jab, Duran was looking to time his right hand over the top of Barkley’s jab, this counter rocked Barkley a few times in the fight including in the opening round. Watch the video below for a breakdown on how to counter the jab.