In the video below I take a look at one of the methods Rocky Marciano used to close the gap against his opponents. With a 68in reach, Marciano has the shortest reach of any heavyweight champion in history, so closing the gap against often taller opponents with a longer reach was imperative to Marciano’s success and how he finished his career unbeaten, winning all 49 of his fights. Sure Marciano had a chin and even better conditioning, enabling him to pound away at his opponent until he had broken them down or caught them with his famous Suzy-Q punch, but without his ability to sneakily cut the distance he would not have been as successful.
The trick Marciano used was to step in as his opponents were punching so he essentially came in behind the opponents arm or almost following it back so the longer armed opponent was in the process of retracting their arm and Marciano had stepped in as they were, cutting the distance and working in close where his shorter reach did not matter. This may be a risky strategy, after all you run the risk of getting caught with a hard shot but Marciano was able to overcome this in part due to his chin and conditioning as well just being honed to time his step in.
Now Marciano’s stance also played a part in drawing opponents in to his tactics, being a short heavyweight Marciano made himself even shorter by crouching down and leaning to his right, this made it more difficult to tag Marciano and also meant the opponent would sometimes have to overreach to land a back hand punch of Marciano, so this in itself also aided in Marciano closing the gap.
The Brockton Blockbuster would step in by anticipating his opponents punches and picking up on cues such as pulling back of the hands which tipped him off that a punch was incoming, he would then take a step in with his lead foot and almost meet the punch. He would do this against the jab too, stepping in to smother the jab whilst anticipating a cross behind the jab but by then he had already got inside and started unloading power punches. Other times Marciano would use the feint to draw the lead from the opponent and because he was expecting the lead after using the feint, he had already stepped inside your lead and now once again he was on your chest working on the inside.
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 for educational purposes and 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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