Sugar Ray Robinson was in my opinion – and in the opinion of many others, to be the greatest boxer in history. Of course this is something which is up for debate, we all have our opinions but something I do find it hard to believe is though, if Robinson wasn’t the greatest boxer of all time, there certainly hasn’t been anyone with a better offence than Robinson. Sugar Ray could pull out a variety of attacks from any position and at any time, he could knock you out going backwards he could pull out a double jab followed by a triple hook too, the man was just a simply amazing fighter and having done this short study on him, at times I was simply left in awe at his ability. Bare in mind this was also looking at a 29yr old Robinson who according to most had already passed his prime!
The first thing we notice about Robinson is his stance, the right hand is under the chin and the lead hand is left low and the head is off centre line. This achieves a few things for Robinson. Number one is he can easily catch and counter the jab with his right hand under the chin. By placing his hand under the chin it also means his right hand now has less distance to travel to reach the target – also on the flip side, the opponents right hand has further to travel to reach the target because Robinsons head is off centre line, if you have to overreach for Robinson, you’ve fallen in his trap and he can come back with his own right cross or right uppercut.
Robinson would also love to turn his hand over when throwing the right hook to the body. The right hook is a punch we don’t see as much as we used to if we are going back to the old school days. When Robinson would throw the right hook to the body he would turn his hand over so his knuckles were digging into your sides – it seems Robinson wanted to inflict maximum pain to his opponents!
Something Sugar Ray Robinson did better than anyone else I have ever seen box is changing the tempo of his punches. Robinson would often switch an opponent off by throwing out his jab just to keep them occupied. The jab would be quite easily defended by his opponent but then all of a sudden Robinson would jump into blitz mode and come out with a staggering multi punch combo. The change of tempo would often catch his opponent by surprise and inevitably they would find it hard to avoid getting hit by Robinson. This is a great strategy or tactic if you are a fighter because it prevents your opponent from ever picking up your pace and leaves them on edge trying to figure out what you are doing. Changing the speed of your punches changing the power in your punches is something which will really help your game, don’t fight at a predictable pace because your opponent will be able to better anticipate your actions.
Another skill of Robinson was how he doubled up on his punches. Now I am not talking double jabs here, this is something he did and many other fighters – actually all fighters do. Robinson though would often double up on his power punches, double hooks, double lead rights, double uppercuts etc this caused havoc with a fighters defensive timing and rhythm because fighters are so drilled in defending certain patterns of punching that a double will often lead them into the path of another punch you are throwing behind the double. Robinson was a master of doubling up on his power punches often resulting in knockouts.
The uppercut is a punch Robinson excelled at more than anyone else in boxing history too – I cannot recall anyone being better at using the uppercut than Sugar Ray Robinson, infact I even made a short video on this sometime ago which you can view HERE. Robinson loved to throw the uppercut especially off his jab and I cannot really understand exactly why he did it so often as the rear uppercut is a punch you would expect to see coming but Robinson time and time again threw the rear uppercut off the jab and had a lot of success with it too. Perhaps because Robinson had such a great right cross and right hook that the right uppercut alongside those punches just made it hell for his opponent to figure out which punch with the right hand Robinson was using?
With Sugar Ray Robinson being such a great attacking fighter and having one of the best left hooks of all time too we see Robinson would often prefer to slip inside punches so he could keep close to his opponent and throw the left hook to the body and head, he could even triple those hooks up from the inside too. Generally as coaches he are hesitant to prefer inside slipping because you might slip into a right hand although I love the inside slip and screw jab up the middle, Robinson took it one further by adding multiple power punches off the slip, he wouldn’t just land one shot he would explode with the powerful combo – this also has the added effect of taking away your opponents jab because now they are worried they might eat a few hooks if Robinson gets inside with the slip.
Sugar Ray Robinson was simply well ahead of his times and probably still is ahead of our times, a phenomenal fighter whose attack was just a joy to watch.