An in-depth guide on how I think during a fight. It’s an advanced boxing strategy guide. Theoretical concepts and stuff that all the experienced guys know. So I won’t be going over technical things like “how to create an angle” or “how to counter a jab”.
This is a raw look into how I think and how I get things done in the square circle.
Is he somebody I’ve sparred before?
If yes, I immediately recall his fighting style and make adjustments to the strategy I used against him previously. I can also recall how other fighters have fought against him in the past and the methods they had the most success with.
If he’s somebody I’ve never sparred before
I ask him for the name of his gym and ask him who his trainers are. There’s a good chance he fights with a similar style to other fighters from his gym or other fighters that train under the same trainer. Even if he’s not built the same way or doesn’t think the same way…there’s a good chance he’s used to their fighting pace. Some gyms spar harder/faster/crazier than others. I make a note of this.
I don’t care to look at him to figure out how good he is. After having sparred enough guys, you’ll know that some guys have speed, some have power, some have slickness, some have awkwardness, and many have a combination of some or all of those qualities. You can’t judge on appearance alone. What matters most to me is that he knows I have speed and power because I want him to respect me before I even step in there with him. Luckily for me, I look the part.
You never really know how good he is
until you get in there with him.
Who wants the center ring?
It’s funny because right after you touch gloves, you’re both trying to establish who is going to do what in the fight. We don’t care about range or distance or using the jab or any of that crap. We’re both trying to figure out who is going to try and take the center ring. Who’s the aggressor? Who’s the runner? Who’s going to stand still and who’s going to use movement?
You don’t know until you push forward.
It’s funny because some guys will start shuffling around the ring right away to start his legs moving. Other guys will run into the center and dig their feet into the ground like they’re going to stay there. And then you have guys who like to tease you for the center ring, going in and out, daring you to try and take it. Some guys are tricksters…taking the center ring and then quickly running off the moment you challenge them for it.
I personally like to walk right in and enter the jab battle asap. I don’t have any problems exchanging hard punches early on if that’s what he wants to do. I’m fresh…I’m ready…
The feeler jabs
Feeling out with the jab is a tough game. Because you’re both anxious to touch each other but you also don’t want to get caught by something big. But then again you don’t want to look like a sissy throwing out feeler jabs.
And so to establish yourself…you start to THREATEN your opponent with movements rather than with punches.
Threatening the opponent
The common things fighters like to threaten with are speed, power, countering, and confidence.
- The guys threatening with speed will like to move quickly showoff some fancy footwork and head movement patterns. They’ll breathe with a sharp burst. And make quick jerky slipping movements every time you appear to reach for a jab. Speedy guys will like to match you movement for movement. Every action you make causes a reaction in them.
- The guys threatening with power will like to show that they’re not shy about throwing the right cross or the left hook. If anything, they look anxious to launch their power shots, and you’ll often see their right hands early on in the round. They’ll follow you around aching to get closer and closer to you.
- The guys threatening with counters will make it a point to defend without running away. They’ll stand right in front of you and stay there as you fire. They’ll block or they’ll slip but they’ll stay right in front of you. It won’t be long before they explode at you with a counter.
- The guys threatening with confidence will like to move around you as if they’re comfortable. They’ll move without haste and slowly work their way around the ring. Even if you’re pressuring them, they’ll make it a point to move slowly and calmly. Even when you land a punch, they’ll brush it off as if nothing happened. They don’t get excited or anxious, they just keep breathing and moving.
I personally like to threaten with power. I already have speed so I prefer to walk around calmly and then explode on my opponents with power. I don’t want them to get a feel for my speed and so I won’t jerk around too much and I also won’t follow the around like I’m looking to counter. If anything, I play the confidence card and even act uninterested in engaging except only I continue flash my right and left hands to let him know I’ll throw hard if I see the opportunity.
The first contact can often tell the story of the whole fight right there. In just one landed punch, you can pretty much get a full precursor as to what’s to come.
- A clean slip and a solid connect where the head snaps back – It’s probably a mismatch. One guy is slipping and countering and the other guy doesn’t even see it. It’s gonna be a long night for him. Poor guy…this fight is over already.
- One guy making a lot of effort and finally getting 2-3 punches through. – Classic story of a front-runner coming out early with guns blazing. It’ll be interesting to see him tire in the 2nd round and then clinch for dear life in the 3rd.
- A clean shot followed by a clean counter from the other guy – NICE! This is gonna be a back and forth fight.
- One guy landing a jab while running away – Probably gonna be the classic boxer vs brawler match-up with one guy constantly running away and the other one trying to catch up to him.
- Hard shots traded – Fun fight. Get your popcorn out. Oh yeah, grab the paper towels, too. There’s gonna be blood.
- A lot of breathing and half-assed punch attempts – Probably two friends working with each other. Gonna be a controlled fight.
- One guy lands two shots and the other lands one really hard one – Looks like a power puncher in with a guy trying to beat him on volume or speed or skills.
- One blocking and the other hitting his guard – Looks like one guy lacking the confidence to come out of his shell and the other guy not fast or skilled enough to get through his guard.
- Two guys swinging off balance and grazing each other with hard shots – awkward fight going to be real messy with lots of wrestling and clinching.
I personally like to touch the guy with a clean jab. I don’t care for slipping too early on as I don’t like him to see my head movement patterns for free. I’ll move around and look for a clean jab using footwork and maybe some subtle head movement.
Range and aggression
I never determine an opponent’s aggression by the number of punches he throws or the amount of power he throws with. Anybody with good technique can throw hard. For me, the measure of aggression is his choice of range preference.
Aggressive guys like to stay in range. Non-aggressive guys like to stay out of range until they feel perfectly comfortable with getting into range. You’ll know right off the bat how aggressive he is or can be simply by noticing how much he likes to stay in range.
Speed is apparent right from the very beginning. You’ll find out right away who’s the faster one and who has the more effective speed. Because there are so many different kinds of speed out there. Some guys have that lightning fast quick reflex speed. Other guys have that burst speed that requires a bit of load time and telegraphs a bit. The giveaway is in the breathing. The faster the exhalation, the faster the fighter.
Some guys are just fast, but they don’t necessarily have fast reflexes. Some guys only have fast hands whereas other guys have fast footwork as well. Some guys are only fast when they’re punching first, and slow at countering. Again…it’s all about having EFFECTIVE SPEED.
Who’s got more power?
Anybody with good technique has power. But who hits harder? You’ll find out soon enough. But there are other factors. Who’s got the better chin? Who has the speed to go with that power? A faster punch is harder to see and more likely to surprise and damage an opponent.
Better yet, WHERE does the power come from? His right hand or his left hook? Does he have a few dangerous setup punches? Or is he just powerful no matter what he throws?
Who’s got that manhandling strength on the inside? Can he wrestle? Can I push him off balance easily? Can I control him easily in the clinch? It’s fun to push a guy around, lean on him, and wear him out if I know he doesn’t have the strength to get me off him.
Fire into his guard. Get close to the guy, push him, pull him, lean on him, grab him and muscle him around. I have to know what he’s really built like. If I feel he lacks the strength to stay balanced and grounded, I’m gonna stay close to him.
What kind of punches does he throw?
What does he like? The jab? The right hand? The left hook? Any uppercuts?
Some guys like really long jabs. Some like flashy snapping jabs. Some will paw and touch and push you away. Some have a thudding pushing jab. Some rarely use the jab and when they do, they explode with full power on it. Others only use it to poke you and potshot you. Does he move his head when he jabs?
Guys that throw harder jabs can be more easily timed and countered. Guys that throw softer jabs, I like to just pretend like I don’t see the jab and fight through it. Usually if he’s throwing softer jabs, the focus is on the next shot anyway and so I just look for the cross or hook even though he’s threatening me with the jab.
The right hand varies. Some guys throw it straight down the middle. Some guys throw it straight but slashing in with a slight side angle. Some guys have a little bit of an arc from the top. The head placement is key. Some guys bring their head in with the right. Some guys even drop their head and throw blind rights.
I prefer it when they throw straighter right hands. Easier to slip and easier to counter. The swinging ones can be a little tricky as I’m not sure whether to slip it or just block it and I usually end up having to block it. I’ll dip under a right hand if it’s really obvious but the good guys never make it that easy. My favorite counter is to throw a left hook preemptively or during his right hand. It lands easy and even disrupts his balance especially if it lands on his shoulder after he’s swung through.
I’d say the best guys are the ones who throw the right hand with perfect balance. It’s like their head doesn’t come forward when they do it. Their glove reaches out far but their head is still back there. And then you also have the opposite where they carry their head in deep with the right hand and dig the left hook afterwards.
Left hooks can vary as well. Some fighters throw the hook real tight. Some swing it with the arm almost fully extended. The setup is key. Some guys really set the hook up correctly where it’s hard to see, and other guys will just swing it during exchanges. I’m especially annoyed of tricky left hooks that come out of nowhere. Or also equally annoying are the guys who switch off between jabs and hooks…you never know which one it’s gonna be.
Left hooks to the body are a totally different ball game. Some guys will lean forward and dig in there. Other guys stay real balanced and reach for it. The reachers typically do better than the leaners. As it telegraphs left and you get the feeling they could touch that liver at any moment.
Uppercuts vary. Most guys never use it except in close. Every now and then, I run into a guy who uses long range uppercuts with deadly effect. You would think something that wide would be easy to see but for me it’s a sneaky punch and seems to get in at times. Really scary.
What kind of defense does he use?
WALL blockers vs SNAP blockers
It’s really important to know your opponent’s blocking and slipping style. When it comes to blocking, you have the wall blockers, who like to hold ground and they feel like a brick when you punch into their guard. And then you have the snap blockers who kind or just parry or touch your glove when you fire at them. It’s like they’re firing a block into your glove to counter your glove’s momentum. It’s like blocking with total accuracy.
I imagine the snap blockers to be more skillful than wall blockers. The snap blockers are able to use rhythm with their blocking to transition quickly into combinations. It’s like the block is the first punch of the combo. Whereas the wall blockers have to explode out of their guard to counter you.
When fighting wall blockers, I prefer to keep touching him and annoying him until he comes out of that shell—and THEN I counter hard. I don’t like to invest any energy into their guard as I feel it’s way too set up for me. As for the snap blockers, I like to use feints and just fire punches through and around that guard. It’s a bit tricky when you fight a snap blocker who doesn’t even have his hands in position. He’s precision-catching your shots, so you kind of have to play the potshot game with him.
Jerky slippers vs Slick slippers
The slipping styles vary greatly as well. You’ve basically got the slick slippers and the jerky slippers. The jerky guys will pull away or duck or dip or cut quickly to one side. And then immediately snap a counter or move away. The slick slippers are real smooth, like they’re slipping in slow motion. They don’t use much effort and they’re good at sliding around your punches. They’re also usually walking, too. No rush to jump around for them. They just walk and slide.
Jerky slippers are pretty fun to punch at. As long as you keep firing, you’ll eventually catch them and break their rhythm. The slick slippers are a bit tougher to crack. Because of their superior rhythm and movement, they take the steam off your shots even if you manage to touch them again and again. You could land a whole combination on a slick slipper and still feel like you didn’t do any damage. Best way to fight the slick slippers? I like to just back off, make him punch, and hit him while he’s punching. I don’t chase them with shots when they’re doing the slip-dance…too risky…and they always have a counter routine down. Last note…NEVER fire at a guy who’s crouched under and slipping around. It’s always a damn trap!
Shoulder Blockers vs Shoulder Rollers
Some guys just block with the shoulder whereas some guys actually roll with it. The ones who roll are far more slick and annoying. The ones who simply block are pretty easy to get around. Heh. I just dig some shots and step around. For the true shoulder rollers, I just back off and give them some space. Or another option is to try and get around to his side and wing shots into his body.
Footwork defense aka “the runaway defense”
Hilarious. I just follow him around the ring and take back-steps to create lots of space at times. He’s not controlling the distance if I dis-engage entirely. If I’m coming into his range while he’s trying to set traps for me, it’ll be when I feel like it. It also matters if he’s running because that’s his pure boxing style or if he’s running because he’s lacking confidence.
Getting my shots in
Establishing my jab
First off, I make sure I can touch him. If I can’t hit him with a clean snap jab, then I extend my arm out a little for a quick flick jab. If I can’t get that, then I extend my arm out even more and try to paw at him. If I STILL can’t make contact, then I start to try and touch his gloves. One way or another, I’m gonna lay my hands on him. No way am I going to let him be comfortable thinking he can escape my fastest punch.
I go high, I go low. Some to the head, some to the body using the crouch position. If he does the front-arm-down thing, I pop a good one right to his heart. If he’s blocking everything or just moving around a lot, I use a hard pushing jab from that sideways crouch position (good for pushing him back off balance).
Getting that right hand in
I try to square a little in the beginning to lay my right hand on him the first chance I get. The sooner he feels my power, the more respect he’ll have for me, and the more likely he’ll slow down the pace. They usually do. Even the most aggressive guys will give me a little space if I hit them just right with the right hand.
Unless he’s really balanced and moves well, it’s pretty easy to just reach in and tag him with a right hand. But after that, you gotta be careful because he’ll get his counters ready for it. My best tactics for landing that early right hand:
- from out of range, reach in with a long 1-2
- pressure him into using a high guard, step in, throw a wide right around his guard
- time a counter right over one of his early jabs
- step in deep and throw a really fast 1-2-3-2, if he stays and fights, the second right hand will usually land
- get into a clinch, throw a right hand as you break from the clinch (make sure you watch for the retaliatory one coming right after)
Getting the left hook in
The left hook either lands in close range or long range. At close-range, usually a nice and tight hook during exchanges. At long range, usually a wide swing during a quick exchange or while you’re moving around each other. I wish I could say something intelligent here but what I like to do is just swing it.
The best time to throw the hook? Basically when he’s throwing a punch. It doesn’t matter. He could be throwing a jab, a right, or a hook, and it’d be the perfect time to throw your hook. Just make sure you don’t get caught by his counter hook and you’ll be alright. If you’re worried about his right hand counter, make sure you pivot your body with the hook and then come under when you roll back to your neutral position or make sure your right hand follow-up beats his right hand counter.
Aiming the hook is an important point. If he comes under a lot, make sure you aim around his chin or chest level and you’re bound to catch something. If he likes to stand straight up, then swing it high enough and you’re almost sure to smack him in the head every time.
Landing the uppercuts
Every time he’s in close, I tilt back and let it rip. I never look for openings. Believe it or not, the best time to throw the uppercut is when he’s defending (or at least when he THINKS he’s defending). Sure you could also use the uppercut as a counter but personally, I like to throw my uppercut as a pre-emptive counter. When I see his hands around his face for defense, I launch hard uppercuts right into him as if his defense isn’t there. And if he so much as thinks to attack me, my uppercut will hit him the moment his hand moves even a centimeter from his face.
The great thing about uppercuts is that you can push his gloves into his face if you know where and how to aim. (Aim for the wrist.) One little tip for the noobs…the best uppercut lean is a very specific one. It’s not just to lean back. It’s like you have lean FORWARD, SIDEWAYS, and BACK….all at the same time! I know it sounds weird, but you have to try it and then you’ll see.
His punching commitment
Punching power & volume
Probably the most important one is how hard does he hit? And how hard is he TRYING to hit? Those can be two different things. A guy looking to land big punches can be just as dangerous as a guy with power. What about how many punches is he trying to throw? And how many punches is he trying to land? His approach says a lot about his confidence and strategy.
Every fighter has his own particular style of dispensing punches. Some guys throw more, some throw less. But then there’s also the variety of effort that they put into each punch. Some guys will throw lots of punches and all power. Some will throw lots of punches but many of them are just set-up shots or lighter shots. Some will throw a bunch of shots without aiming. Some will try to precision-aim all their shots.
This is important to know so you can use the appropriate defense:
- Against harder punches – evade and counter immediately.
- Against precisely aimed punches – feint and set-up for big counters.
- Lighter punches – ignore or block with a relaxed guard and fire counters back through them
- Faster punches – ignore or defend and fire counters
- Against bunches of punches – evade the hard ones and land big counters, and/or keep moving away from him
His energy conservation
How much energy does he have? Is he trying to blow it all? Does he have good endurance or no? The more high energy he is, the more alert I have to be. But if I get the feeling he’s just burning nervous energy, well then I sit back and let him tire himself out. Is he even aware of his own energy levels?
If I’m enjoying a stylistic advantage, I might even try to exchange with him every time and match his energy output. If I’m winning every exchange, why not exchange more often? Also if he’s the nervous type, it’s not a bad idea to keep the pressure on him so he keeps burning more nervous energy. That’s better than to let him gather his nerves from a distance and land panicky counters on you.
Establishing respect /winning the confidence game
It’s important to always leave the first round with respect from your opponent. You gotta land shots. You gotta land power. He has to know that you’ve got the skills and ability to hit him, and that you have the power to make the shots count. He’s got to know that you’re not afraid and that you’re prepared to battle him on all fronts. The last thing you want is a confident opponent.
It’s extremely important that the first round is even. It could be even because you both landed the same amount of punches. It could be even because one of you landed the bigger shots while the other one landed more jabs. It could be even because one of you landed more shots but the other was more calm and collected, confident. Or it could be even because neither of you did much. It’s very important to establish stability in the first round.
If you try too hard to win the first round. You end up using too much energy, or giving away your tricks too early and you give him room to adjust in the later rounds. But if you can win the first round without too much effort, it’s a great way to establish an early lead and then convert that into a clear landslide victory. If you’re going to insist on being aggressive and landing shots…make sure he respects you while you’re being aggressive!
Does he think he’s winning?
Does he think he can beat me? It’s usually pretty obvious by the way I feel…by the way his trainer is coaching him…and by the way he fights. Knowing his level of confidence lets me know more of what to expect from him in terms of aggression, trickery, and the amount of counters I can expect to see. It also lets me know how well I’m doing.
As for knowing my own confidence, I don’t think about that too much. I’m either good enough to win or I’m not. Whatever happens happens. We’re already fighting anyway and this thing is over in a couple minutes.
The first round is usually the test round and the second round is usually the first real round of the fight. It’s when both fighters have had a good look at each other. They know what they’re dealing with. They’re warmed up and comfortable (and hopefully, not already tired!). They’ve got some instructions, and they’re ready to commit to the big shots.
The truth always comes out in the second round. Whatever kind of tricks and impression he wanted to project in the first round….well he’s probably settled into the fight by now. Whatever he does now is pretty much the way he’s going to fight.
Boxing strategy wars
Controlling the pace & distance
I’ll use long range for the powerful guys and taller guys. Great way to keep them off me and buy some time for when I can come in and surprise them. Arms’ distance is great for fighting smaller or slower guys where I can beat them with my speed and longer arms. Getting inside is good for tiring an opponent or giving myself a break.
The best way to force the force the fight to be at a far distance is to have a lot of power. The best way to force your way inside is to have good slippery defense. Arms’ distance is easiest if you have slipping skills and know how to find new angles and make space for your punches.
Winning the angles battle
There aren’t really that many angles to choose from. The left hand either goes straight in or hooks in from the side. The right hand goes straight in or hooks in from the side. If you lean back or to the sides, you’ll find an uppercut angle. Different angles come with advantages.
Going straight in is the best way to land clean, fast, and hard punches. It feels good when you make contact and your hand returns back to you easily. Hooking shots can do a lot of damage, great to use as trick counters, very fun and satisfying to land a good one. But hooks can be exhausting when you miss.
Another thing you can do is use a couple swings. Come in straight and dip your head here and there as your swings bomb straight in (but with a slight angle).
If I’m faster or have a style advantage, I’ll go first and be first every time.
If I need a break or prefer to be defensive, I’ll let him start the first shot and I’ll counter and trade with his second shot.
If I need to be weird because he’s a rhythm-fighter or has a slick defense, I’ll have to hit-hit-pause, and explode on him again.
Defeating his defense
If he’s using a hard shell, I’ll rain fast blitzing shots down the middle (into his gloves) while aiming in a few hard shots around his guard. Having a little bit of awkward rhythm attacks helps to sneak in off-rhythm shots when he opens up.
- If he slips a lot, I’ll get closer and try to stay on top of him, then pivot and dig hooks and uppercuts from angles.
- If he runs, I’ll cut off the ring and use fast shots from long range.
Counters & attacks
When he throws straight, I’ll most likely slip and counter. If I’m feeling especially aggressive, I’ll catch and shoot off his first shot. When he jabs, I either move and counter jab or look for an angle for my right hand either over his jab (to the head) or under his jab (to the body). When he throws a right, I either slip and throw a counter right, or I’ll turn off and throw a counter hook. When he hooks, I pull away or go under it. I’ll sometimes trade hooks if I feel comfortable with his rhythm.
Boxing tricks showdown
Deadly counters and set-ups
There are so many types of nasty counters. Most of them have to do with landing a hard right hand, a sneaky hook, or a sneaky uppercut. Many guys will set up the hard right hand by making you reach in or over-commit to your own right hand, and then they’ll come in for the easy right cross counter. As for the left hook, many guys will distract your defenses elsewhere and then try a left hook to your head or body. For the uppercut, many guys will either use it as a counter, or they’ll get in close and send it through your guard.
You can get avoid many of these counters by fighting intelligently. Use feints. Throw tester shots. Be cautious at times, but also be aggressive and take advantage when you catch on to their trick. You’ve gotta watch out for them and land your own. If you can’t avoid a trick that you know is coming, sometimes it’s better to just come out and exchange so at least you even the score. It’s better than getting picked apart.
My favorite trick-setups:
- right hand exchange
- left hook exchange
- lean out and big uppercut up the middle
- hard right to the solar plexus
- power jab used as a sneaky potshot
- surprise hook after a slow slip (time it!)
Fight stalling / evasion tactics
The most common fight stalling techniques are usually either by running away, incessant clinching, or skillful defensive maneuvers and footwork pivoting during the fight. You can usually beat the runaways by cutting off the ring. As for the clinchers/wrestlers, you either need to know how to out-wrestle them or you better land solid punches and use footwork to avoid getting grabbed. As for the skillful defenders, you’ll need to have better skills.
Either they’re hitting behind the head, pulling your head down, hitting low, pushing you, elbowing you, hitting on the break, and just plain having bad sportsmanship. The guys hitting behind your head or pulling on your head, you can avoid this simply by not bending forward into them when you avoid punches. The ones hitting low, it’s a tough call, this is hard to deal with. The ones pushing you or elbowing, you need better wrestling skills. The ones hitting you on the break and having bad sportsmanship, just watch out for them. If it’s a sparring match, just stop fighting and get out of the ring if he can’t fight cleanly.
Common counter-punching tricks
- The surprise jab – it usually explodes off a block or a quick down parry.
- The surprise right hand – usually a pre-emptive counter when you’re throwing lazy jabs.
- The feint step – quick step with the front foot to see if you’ll fall the bait and give up your ground.
- The jab-hook – annoying trick where the jab turns into a hook. This is why that right hand can’t always be in front of your face.
- The sneaker shot from the clinch – anytime you’re in a clinch, watch out for the quick shot after the break.
- Pull-counter – anytime you chase an opponent too far in, watch out for his pull and counter right.
- The slip dance – every fighter’s got his head movement dance when he dips down to waist level…DON’T GO FOR IT!
- Walk away, turn back – classic old school move where it looks like you disengage but then you turn right back with a counter.
Defensive trick escapes
These can be incredibly annoying. Helpful if you know their rhythm beforehand and you land a counter when your opponent tries them on you.
- Jump out – a backwards jump to disengage entirely…useful for body shots. Also helps when you dip or slip in one direction, and the jump out the other way.
- Deep waist lean – huge lean from the waist when someone’s getting barraged. Useful when you’re on the ropes. You can also do this with a huge back lean when you’re pivoting away from a straight shot.
- Slowdown slips – right when you’re finding your rhythm on a guy. He slips, freezes, and then calmly blocks all your shots. And walks. It’s slick but also subtle.
- Deep pivots and spin-outs – always happens when you get too close. The opponent spins right around and gets away.
If you’re a fast thinker, you can start adjusting in the second round. Otherwise, most people don’t really figure out their opponents until the 3rd…which might be too late because you’re already tiring or losing the match.
Typical adjustments I have to make for opponents:
- Guard adjustments – my right hand has to come forward or to the side depending on whether he jabs or hooks more. My head will come forward or back depending on whether I want to slip and duck under or use pulls to avoid his shots. My left hand will go high or lower depending on how he throws his right hand.
- Jab adjustments – some guys are real easy to hit with the jab. Other guys, you really gotta snap for the shot.
- Right hands and Left hooks – many guys will be easier to hit with one or the other. It all depends on their stance and how they watch for you. Whichever one they’re better at avoiding, I soften up a bit and look for speed rather than all out power. I’m usually careful about the left hook as it’s easy to swing off balance when you miss this one.
- Head movements – most guys have a hard time when I come under. Others have a hard time when I go over. Going outside is usually easy as long as you set it up beforehand.
- Timing adjustments – some guys are better at trading non-stop, for these, you gotta be clean, awkward and precise with 1 or 2 shots and then move out. Other guys are better at the potshot game, for them, you walk in and blitz them with combos.
- Offense adjustments – finding the holes can be hard to do against guys with annoying defense tactics. Sometimes I find the holes by being more aggressive and pushing different angles until their guard falls apart. Other times I find the holes by being more passive and letting them open up on me before I fire back my counters.
Either you’re pulling away with the easy win, you’re trying to survive a losing battle, or you’re trying to win it a close fight. For the easy win, I say either play it safe or keep coming forward and dominating the exchanges. If you’re trying to survive a losing battle, then keep your defense and confidence up and pick out some hard counters. If you’re trying to win a close fight, then you better pull out some quick auto-strategies and push until the final bell.
Strategies for fighting tired
These strategies are meant for when BOTH of you are tired. There’s a lot of joy and fun in the endgame because so much wildness can happen in these final moments when both fighters go all out.
Lean in with hard shots. Grab, spin, push. Walk away, walk away, fire a potshot. Lateral movement to the left, to the right, fake a shot, back away again. Fast foot feint forward, but suddenly pause to shake up his balance. Now rush him with shots. Keep pushing and firing. Inside fight now. If he grabs, spin him. If he pushes, angle off on him and counter.
Come in with a barrage. Finish with a chest level punch. Use an automatic roll out to one side or the other. Do a double roll under every now and then to clear all the counters.
Some of my favorite auto-combos
- whatever made-up shoeshine combination I feel like doing.
- roll under after a combo
- you can also roll under and roll under AGAIN to the other side (to shake off his counters)
- pull away
- lean in or push
- grab (or end with a punch to his chest or guard and THEN grab)
Pull tricks and feints
Pull tricks are not only useful in the beginning of a fight but also at the end when both fighters are tired and fall off balance easily when you make them over-commit.
- Step in, lean out, counter.
- Hard jab, lean out, counter.
- Fast blitz with straight shots, lean out, counter.
- Lift the right, fire the left.
- Open both hands wide out, fire the jab straight down the middle.
- Touch the jab to his gloves, hard slap hook.
- Slow touch the jab to his gloves, hard overhand slap with the right.
Fire some shots to force him to block. Sludge your way in. Come in with shots, pull out, duck under and step in and clinch. Once in the clinch, use the push and pull tricks to mess with his balance. If he’s strong, hold your ground and let him burn all his energy. When his balance is off again, set your feet together and torque him off balance.
I like to use purposely missed punches as a way of getting inside without taking punches. Throw a huge right into his guard, walk in, push and/or clinch. Huge left into his guard, walk in, push and/or clinch.
I love these strategy guides. This, the drowning style, and smart offense articles are my favorite, and they separate this site from the other boxing sites.
Definetly dead on about guys fighting a certain way coming from a particular gym or trainer
Very well written and thorough. Another great article that helps me add onto my game.
Good stuff. I especially like the idea of having auto sequences and tricks to fall back on as a contingency plan. As an aging fighter, I’ll have the slower reflexes more often than not and it will be good to have some more random trickery to throw in along with my actual traps and feints.
Hi Johnny. Can you also cover the scenario where the opponent is stronger than you on the inside? Under that section, you only covered what you would do if he was weaker.
E.g., if he does exactly what you would do to another to you.
I wouldn’t stay on the inside, then. Or I would have to use superior wrestling technique to overcome that.
you’ve done it again. stay golden johnny
couldnt have written it better myself.. simple and accurate.
like fighting when winded, its abt being the ring general, making them wait, getting in to clinch.. avoiding the mid distance zone..
i like to finish combos with stiff lefts against counterpunchers (similiar to throwing into the chest)..
if theyre counterpunchers or boxers i like figuring out what they’ll do in reaction to each punch so I’ll throw a lead very light and cover right behind it like slipping in and ducking underneath after throwing the right. if someone is good with angles i like to force them to move the way i want. usually ill look for my left hook, so i wont throw it when they start cutting to my left. but i will close them off them they move to my right. thus setting them up for my left hook when i feel more comfortable with the range and timing. if someone moves back ill follow what you suggested, shots into their guard to blind them and open up flanks, get an angle.
in the first round i like to start with the jab to the abdomen. that can turn to the hook or just faking the punch low to fire the right overhand. its my favorite way to start.
the other thing i like doing when starting or in a jam, tired.. keep rotating my left fist, that hypnotising thing cubans do the best. keeping the right hand low. the newer fighters get hit by the right, the more experienced ones get hit by the left because they concentrate on the right they think im setting up. when someone starts mirroring it and has better reach ill look for their body under the arm or change tactics.
when tired ill cheat like a muther*** so follow up elbows, shots to the hips, grabbing all help. also hopkins like head down punches work incredibly well. it’s like a third glove. if someone did it to me or against a lefty the answer is to get the forward hand on top of the head, force it down into my right uppercut. very very effective if it lands but needs perfect timing. still it stops them bringing their head in. another effective tactic is just throwing the left elbow after a wide counter hook. the check hook label has become really popular its just a counter and uppercuts work really well too..
if someone slips or ducks well and i dont want them to follow up ill step forward and force their heads down, close the distance to smother. if i want to attack ill follow up by adjusting the punches to their head. if i cant get them to stop slipping i will hit their flanks or look for the uppercut. usually the better fighters will think twice abt something that whistles by their heads or does some damage to their sides.
another way is the soft touch first punch (left jab or right overhand feint) and then stepping in with the same hand and more power. and i do find shifting my weight in an unbalanced way its very effective.
with a slower bigger head down fighter stepping around and pinning the arm on that side is great. fighters who slip or bob-weave but keep their heads coming back to the same place are easier. those that move their feet and head stance are harder. if they have power ill close in and keep throwing, something will land. if i feel theyre not very damaging i will let them throw their counter and exchange.
this is getting too detailed.. thats why we need you man you explain it well and take the time. how abt an article on combining changing angles, messing with distance and timing? the advanced advanced version ? and if you have the works on oldschool infighting id like to learn some new tricks there. unless u write them all i do is pull out james toney and benton vids every month and see what i can figure out
The inside fighting guides are on the way!!!
is there a good way to figure out how much of a chin the other guy thinks he has, other than u know actually throwing heavy punches ? and what abt fighters who can time opponents and throw blind punches ? ive always had a problem with those, as pretty much everyone does. the standard “dont let him time you, be herky jerky” isn’t always helpful for guys with only 2-3 yrs experience.. could u put some words down into how to stop ppl timing you john ?
The fighters that throw blind punches, you have to learn their patterns and figure out a way to avoid or punish them for it. As for not letting him time you, you gotta change things up. Either change the timing, OR, use the same timing but do different things. You’e got to keep them guessing and doing enough different things that they don’t feel secure about figuring you out.
Excellent article here, the things that people don’t notice I find on this site a lot. I feel like being aware of things like how the fighters will fight for the center, or what style they use whether it’s the confidence, speed etc. also I love that you put your favorite blitz combos as blitzing is something I love to do. I notice you saved them for the end of the fight. Are they something you would avoid during the beginning and middle?
I do things whenever I feel the opportunity and break from my plans regularly. This article was written just as a way that I often think but yes, it’s best to be adaptable and abandon the game plan when you see an opportunity for something better.
Well done Johnny. Often what separates the contenders from the wannabes is what’s going on between their ears and I think, if given a chance, you can act as a catalyst in adding richer layers of understanding of the sweet science of pugilism into the minds of the very best fighters. It’s the mind that prepares one for the fight. Keep up the good work and hopefully I’ll see you and Brian during the San Francisco marathon.
Thank you, Charlie. It was great seeing you, by the way. San Diego for New Years, I hope.
how do u deal with some one with constant head movement and a sharp 2
Hey johnny what should you do if you have a bad coach and gym but cant find better ones?
Why do you consider your coach and gym “bad”?
Thanks a lot bro!