Seven easy ways to counter your opponents moves. Must-learn boxing reactions for all beginner boxers.
Most people who are just learning how to box or just beginning to spar in the ring are often suprised by their inability to create openings in the ring. Hitting a live opponent is not like hitting a heavy bag or focus mitts. Assuming your opponent is trained, he will always have his guard up. You will have no choice but to either create openings or to look for counter-punching opportunities. Counter-punching is one of the hardest and most important skills to learn because the best time to hit your opponent is when he’s throwing a punch at you. As his arm is extended, he essentially leaves himself open at some angle for you to take advantage IF you are able to do so without getting hit in return. Below are ten easy counters for the most common punches. I highly recommend all beginning boxers to master each counter and to use them when the opportunity arises.
When your opponent throws a…
JAB – You block his jab with your right glove and throw a counter jab straight back into his face. Make sure you keep your jab shoulder high and chin tucked in case he’s throwing a 1-2 (jab-right cross) combination. If your jab shoulder is high, it’ll protect you from a right hand if he does throw one. Make sure your jab lands accurately on his face or chin!
JAB – You bend your knees, lowering your body and throw a counter jab straight into his body. You can aim for the solar plexus or his left ribs. Follow it up with a right cross to his head if you’re fast enough.
JAB – You parry down his left glove with your right glove, and then immediately throw a straight right over his parried arm and into his face.
JAB – You lean your head slightly inside of his left jab and throw a SLIGHTLY ARCHED right cross into his face. This is a deadly counter-punch and the angle is perfect for a knockout! (Your head will go inside and somewhat under his jab and your overhand right will come over on the outside of his jab.)
RIGHT CROSS – You intercept it with a left jab straight to his head. Make sure you hold your left shoulder high to protect your head from his right cross.
RIGHT CROSS – You block it with your left glove and throw a right hand immediately after the block. The way you’re doing this, it’s as though you’re blocking his right cross and throwing your own counter right hand punch right after before he can retract his right arm.
WIDE RIGHT HOOK – You throw a smaller left hook on the inside when his right glove leaves his chin. Your body should pivot clockwise as you throw the left hook and will turn your head away from his right hook and minimize the damage if it ever lands. Your left hook should land perfectly. You can keep doing this as long as he keeps throwing wild right hooks.
There are counters for counters in boxing, and i really don’t know how the professionals remember it all.
Nathan Alexander Orlando Kelly
Its not that they rememer when they fight. Its that they have trained for so long and intensly that their muscle memory reacts to the various punches on their own. The pros have a instinctive response to their attacks.
They dont have to remember alot after each round the coach give a number combination
tell me about it!
it’s a bit like remembering common chess openings!
ahhahahah you’re right
They don’t exactly remember them. From the countless times they have trained them they’ve become instinctive and their bodies move on their own when they have to counter.
excellent stuff…keep up the good work
The Best Boxer Evaaaa
I enjoyed this article. I’d like to know what is a counter for a lead left hook like Floyd Mayweather throws? He looks like he’s throwing a left jab but throws a lead left hook around his opponents right hand parry – I realise that is no easy counter though !!!
defending against Floyd Mayweather’s leaping left hook
Good question, DaveL73
I studied his movement here at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzcGCijJwpM
Floyd is getting away with it because his hand is dropped so it’s kind of already out of his opponent’s vision when it starts to get thrown (which is by the way one of the better reasons why a good boxer will drop his front hand so that the left hand can’t be seen).
I highly recommend against throwing a counter-right hand because his left hook will go over or under your arm and still score the point.
I think the better thing to do is to throw a counter left hook of your own but put a pivot on it. You can do a pivoting jab or a pivoting left hook. Ideally, if you pivot your will form a T with both your body positions. His body will be the top of the T, and your body will form the bottom. Which means if you hit him with anything, he’ll lose balance and be more vulnerable to punches.
You can see Miguel Cotto countering very well against lead left hooks in his Joshua Clottey fight.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OXv3QUGEAI at 0:22 – he even knocks him down withe jab
And again in the Alfonso Gomez fight
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tdQUi4gIog at 0:24 – Cotto’s superior foot placement allows him to wobble Gomez with a jab
And can anyone explain to me what a ‘bolo punch’ is? I think its something like a hook-uppercut mashup
It’s a flashy move more for showing off than actually causing damage. It’s when the fighter swings his fist around in a circle like a bolo as if he’s charging up the momentum, and then releases it out at his opponent like a whip. You can look up videos of Sugar Ray Leonard using the bolo punch in his fights.
Eren Can Sinecan
I’d like to make a drill out of what you described above. Person holding the mitts will throw and person with the gloves will perform the counters. But I fear that I’ll misapply some of these techniques if I base the drill solely on the reading. Would it be a bother to make a video demonstrating these?
Keep up the great work, all the best.
Great article, its amazing how simple and effective some of these are and how many don’t practice or rely on them. When I train counters to people, alot of them time I explain it as “taking over or breaking your opponents own combo” Meaning,, that your first punch right after his first punch, doesn’t have to hit that hard; but it does need to hit clean and fast in order to throw them off balance and set up your next series of punches.
What are some effective ways to counter in Unorthodox matchups???
boxing counter punches in unorthodox match-ups
Thanks for commenting on my articles. What exactly do you mean by “unorthodox matchup”? You mean if you’re a right-hander fighting a southpaw? Or a right-hander fighting a tricky right-hander?
Sorry I wasn’t specific, Yes; what are some good counters Since I’m a South Paw, when I sparr rightys.???
I know and understand Most of the traditional counters because one of my main and lately my ownly sparring partner is southpaw as well. I don’t want to get to used to that kind of match up. I know South vs Orhodox doesn’t haven’t the same counters.. I know some of the strategies for this matchup, but the counters; I haven’t had much time to experiment with… They just don’t come off as clean in the mirror image matchup.. So I was hoping you might have some insight.
southpaw counters against orthodox boxers
Just for you, I’ll write a guide and post it up soon. The site is due for some new articles asap. Thanks for being patient!
good techniques here maybe will use them next sparing day
even though Anderson Silva is a mma fighter he has a whole book on striking and shows some excillent counters that work very well and show step by step pictures.
its not the case of remembering it, professional boxers would have a reatcion just to throw these counters. being a beginner boxer my self im yet to learn.
What if your opponent constantly throws 1,2,1,2,1,2 . . . ?
@Terrelle – Assuming he’s moving forward at you. Stand your ground hard and throw 2-3-2-3-2-3, and pivot slightly on every left hook so you’re slightly out of the way each time. You can aim some of the hooks to the body. You can also break his combo with a jab to the body followed by a right hand upstairs followed by a pivot jab.
what would be the best method to counter a right upercut???
Left hook to the jaw/head or shark kick to the bolloks
@dgreen – To counter the right uppercut, you can throw a counter jab. Put a little push on that counter jab so it knocks him off balance. You can also throw a counter left hook for when he drops that right hand. If you want to be really risky, you can throw a counter straight right. Generally, you shouldn’t be standing so close that you can’t be hit by an uppercut.
I spare against this kid who does nothing but counter punch and yesterday he left me with my first bloody nose from all the sneaky jabs. Now, he is way more experienced than I am but he is 9 years younger and about 25 lbs lighter. Every single time i try to punch he backs up out of range, so naturally, i will try to reach more and more but then he surprises me with a direct hit counter jab. Tell me, how can I overcome this?
@Chris – He’s beating you with better footwork and range control. You’ll have to learn how to come forward without leaning forward. It also helps to block your face when you’re trying to come in on him.
deal with counters
How do you deal with an opponent that counters you?
an opponent that likes to wait for you to start a move more than he like to start a move.
great site, helps me alot
@Gad – that’s much easier than you think. Once you know what he likes to counter with, you just set him up with your first punch, and then counter his counter. Or did that seem too easy?
thought about it.. thanks! next time i’ll look more forward :].
is there a way to be more harder to counter?
well of course in my gym most of the guys counter the jab..
alot of people talk about countring and defense but i didn’t see an article about
how to deal with an opponent that counters you easily or like to be more passive.
thank you very much
@Gad – to make yourself harder to counter? Perhaps you can learn how to throw the snapping punch (I already have a guide for this.) Also, fighting is all about throwing punches. Perhaps you DO want your opponent to throw counters so that you can counter him. Get use to it and take advantage of his counters. 😉
When you counter the jab with the right hook,are you supposed to be leaning forward?
@Gian – you CAN lean forward if you want to take the risk to land the punch. If he’s not ready for it, then sure take those risks to get those opportunities. But next time, it’s better to stand in a way that allows you to get into range better. OR, you can also wait for his jab to go deep into your stance so you can reach without having to lean.
whenever i spar my fren, he gets into a defensive position(like peek-a-boo) and pushes me to the corner. Then he throws his punches. I cn do nuttin
@dayne – throw a hard straight punch into his guard, then cut around him…preferably around his left side. Then throw hooks and finish with a straight shot, then cut around him again. Try that. Also when he’s pushing you, drop your weight to make him push harder, then step to the side to let him fall through and hit him when he’s off balance.
thanks johny…thats helpful.. 😀
;-)cool that good
thank dayne thats helful;-)
how do you counter body shots? and what head punches can you counter with a body shot?
You can counter the right cross with a left hook to the body (after a slip) or a straight right to the body (during the slip).
Would a left hook work to counter the jab? If not, why wouldn’t it? I’m sure a wide hook would be too slow but would a short one work? I’m just curious
Many guys do use a wide left hook to counter the jab. If your opponent comes in with a step jab and spreads his legs too wide, you can knock him off balance with a hook even if he blocks it. Of course you have to know that a jab is longer than a hook so it helps to have long arms if you’re going to use a wide left hook to counter against jabs.
Alright cool; thanks!
HEY Johnny the Great
Can i counter the cross with i simultaneous HARD left HOOK to the head , your left hook going over his Right forming a T or a cross , will this counter work , i just thought about it if it does wont this be the ultimate CROSS counter lol get it it counters the CROSS and forming a cross
I would really appreciate your input
keep up your great work , Thanks
Yes, you can definitely do this.
@Labeeq watch Nonito Donaire knockout Montiel with this exact counter! Absolutely perfect display of counterpunching with correct TIMING and TECHNIQUE.
I read that below in one boxing book;
Never attempt to use a left cross (if there is such a thing) as a counter when slipping a straight right. Trying that, you may get your brains knocked out. You wouldn’t have slipping room between your left shoulder and your chin.
What do you think about that statement bro ?
I don’t agree with it because that’s a commonly used counter. Many people counter with left crosses (or counter jabs) over right hands. Some will add a pivot to it.
Bro; for countering right hand; slip inside and fire overhand left hook or cross or swing over the opponent’s shoulder outside his right arm; is this useful for you ? Thanks.
When i look at my question now it comes very noob to me :))
Johnny, I just wanted to say thank you so much for this excellent resource. You give this to the public out of love for the sport and its ability to enhance peoples lives. In my eyes you’re a true martial artist.
Regarding the slightly arched right cross (seemingly a mildly angled overhead) how do you feel about its use against the right cross? Frankly this overhead (or am I conflating the techniques?) is one of my favorite techniques because it’s SO DAMN PRETTY but I suppose to counter the right cross with this I would have to kinda step 45 degrees to my left/front and outside the cross to get the necessary range. Sounds like a lot of movement and energy for one punch, I know, but perhaps powerful. What are your thoughts?
Countering the right cross with your own right cross is a great idea. It’s commonly used by the pros and leads to many devastating knockouts. It all comes down to timing and angle. Some guys use better timing (will be covered in a future article) while other guys use better angle (moving their head or body out of the way or bringing the counter in from a different angle).
You don’t need to move your feet to set up the counter. Place your head on an angle and then move your head when you throw the counter. Again…I’ll have a more detailed guide later on about this.
just wondering with this one if a block to deflect past and perhaps grap arm and follow with into a counter would work well
i mean to have my arm on inside and force momentum past but i think a downfall would be they could do the same block but have momentum to throw me in a grappling allowed situation
Any technique that relies on arm-grabbing is probably not effective when you have boxing gloves on. Besides, the time you spend to grab an arm could have been used to land a counter.
yeah sorry i meant without gloves i have friends who have helped with some basics from bjj and judo so i was kind of think of maby try some locks in with my punching
so yeah i was thinking if i could hit him then start locking him up maby go ground but anyway now uv said it is a bit slow ill just go strait to a throw thankyou very much
I have been fighting so many weaklings that it made my right arm completely useless, these counters I learned will turn my left arm into god…..
I think when I first started doing the counter punch, I had a terrible habit of stepping back at the same time. While I hit them neatly on their body or head, I took away all power by stepping back.
Especially the body jab. I found it helpful to actually lean into that one, I know it isn’t best balance but I avoided any chance of a counter punch to me because I was low and close. Although I admit, it was hard to follow up with a combination from that position.
Yeah, you can lean but then you can’t follow up. The bent-over body jab is useful for scoring an easy point and/or pushing an opponent back.
Any thoughts on how I could possibly beat Anderson Silva in a striking match? Those damn counters and head movement…
Johnny , just a question regarding the first counter (JAB – block with right glove and counter with own jab.) Can you explain a bit more in detail about the timing? Do you throw your jab at the same time as you catch his (like a parry-jab; you throw your own at the same time as he throws his), or do you block the jab, wait for him the retract, THEN throw your jab?? Sorry if it sounds confusing lol. Thanks alot
GENERAL RULE: Counter as soon as you can. Block if you need to.
The only time you should evade and then counter is if the evasion in itself creates the opportunity for your counter or helps your counter.
your articles are awesome thanks man , but i have a question…
i Know many blocks and counters but my problem is that when im playing against an opponent and he throws many punches on me i dont know how to counter it so i go away from it , what exercices or training should i have to work ?
And Sorry for my bad english
Check out my latest guide on “How to Improve Your Fighting Reflexes”.
Great info! Love this site…
Sir Johnny, I have a question; is it ok to use an upward karate style block when an oponent throws a right cross? I was practiing it with shadow boxing last week, but the bench observers gave me a wierd stare. I was wondering if it is applicable to modern day boxing.tnx
Is it “ok” as in is it legal? I think it’s legal but it’s a terribly ineffective because you have to sacrifice not only an arm but an entire movement to defend yourself like that. It could be applicable but it’s not very effective.
Jonny your fighting-philosophy you display on this site, It reminds me of Bruce Lee’s fighting style- Wing-Chun.
i agree the block works with karatebecause of a different movement and blocking syle. and even though i only have limited experience with boxing (3 months) i dont think it is a good idea to combine a rising block. if i use it i use it like i have for past five years in my karate and counter after rising block with reverse punch. i think that this is a brilliant website and has taught me much my friend dosnt like me kicking him in legs all the tim so im learning boxing to try and spar more as his used to even if i reckon he should learn to take it or avoid. OSU
Hey! I just started boxing. I was wondering what you guys thought of this combo
using the Orthodox stance(south paw): left jab, left jab, lean to the right, BIG right hook(or right cross), left body shot.
Also, I know this is a boxing site but I’m also learning Muay Thai and I was wondering if using the Unorthodox stance(south paw) is more effective for right-handed people(ONLY FOR right elbows or jabs). I am right-handed and have more power in my right arm but I find this combo is really effective using the south paw stance even though I lose some power from limited hip rotation on my right(main hand)
Example: Right cross, straight left jab, sharp right elbow……. My right side is already closer to the target making my elbows faster & more precise. PLEASE TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK!! THANKS
Your combo will definitely work depending on the opponent and the way it’s setup. I’ve seen it work and done things like that before. I don’t have any opinions on the Muay Thai stuff, though.
good evening mr Johny,
last week i spar with a guy who is using sauthpaw style and as i find during the sparing his favorite ( and knock out i guess) punch was his left hook..All the times he use it i just skif under his hand but i could’t counter him..What counter is best in that case??
………thank you very much…i apprisiate and like you a lot !
I would try to lean back and throw a counter right. Counter with a right cross or right uppercut.
Johnny how do you counter a counter.
By countering it. Evade his shot and land yours. If you look at boxing as a non-stop series of punches, you’re pretty much always trying to counter each other’s moves.
When your in the ring, are you supposed to think a lot in terms of what your next move will be, or would it be more better to go with the flow and react to whatever the opponent throws or does?
There is never anytime to think. I go with the flow. But sure I’ll wise up and try something else if what I’m doing doesn’t work.
Depends who one is fighting, if it a guy with a slower work rate then the counter punchs are good in effect. if it a strong fighter
best bet is to press forward with a strong attack. split second to reflect on which movement to make.
also there no way a fighter can evade or counter every punch, but my favorites are:
inside countering- one guy throw’s a jab, other guy slips to the right, converting his body weight on to the leg
turns his body to left swiftly the same time bringing the right uppercut on the inside. the other guys jab will go over his shoulder, the right uppercut will knock his head back to follow with a overhead left hook.
counter for this counter, block with your elbows or step back throw a left hook.
long range counter. is basic, got to say putting it in to words is hard, boxing comes natural over time
just like getting out of bed in the morning to wash your face.
Because my coach is keeping a close eye on me so I can get a medical in order to start fighting, but I want to get it quicker by impressing him in sparing, but I need certain techniques, such as when I use faints and side steps then his impressed but when I look at a fighter like manny pacquiao I try to mimic him sometimes, but some of my oponents stand their which makes me look good, however some fighters press foward and all I can do is turn and sometimes panic…
What is the best way to deal with some one who throws a left jab and then almost at the same time immediately throw a right hook with it
What is the best way to deal with someone who throws a left jab and then almost at the same time throws a right hook with it