And so the Boxing Mailbag is BACK! “Ask a Boxer” was too long and wordy. Lots of questions this time about competition, training with weights, handspeed, and developing good boxing skills.
1. My national level amateur competition is near. Do you have any suggestions? – Vivek
- Holy crap! National-level amateur competition?! Hell, do you have any suggestions for me?!! Hahaha… if I had to guess, I would say work on pure speed. 3-4 shots, slip once, counter, move laterally. Or if you move back out, be ready to move back in again. Maybe if I saw videos of your future opponents, I would have more ideas.
2. My guard is habitually low. Do you have any drill to keep my hands up? – Vivek
- Have your trainer throw a combination at you on the focus mitts. Everytime you finish a combo, have him throw a counter combo. He should jab at you randomly as you guys walk around the ring. It also helps to pin another glove under your right armpit as you throw nothing but jabs. It’s usually the right hand droppping that is the most dangerous. So having to hold something there really helps.
3. What’s the best kind of diet to get my weight down? – Danny R
Hi, I’m an amateur boxer in England. I have been out the ring for a while so my weight has shot up. Just wanting advice on what the best kind of diet to get my weight down. I’m weighing 85kg at the min and fight at 75kg. Thanks, Danny.
- Have you read my Common Sense Boxing Diet? As long as you follow the rules in there, you can have whatever diet you want.
4. Is boxing for everyone? I mean as a competitor in sparring or even amateur level. – Metal
- I think everyone can enjoy boxing if they take the time to learn it as an art instead of as a way to test their limit for punishment. It’s a great sport that will challenge you in every way. Competing is a totally different side of boxing. Competition favors those that have a certain type of body or can move a certain way. Preparing for a competition can also take over your life. Hundreds of hours in training is fun and all, but you will have to sacrifice in many areas of your life. Do you like fighting in front of a crowd? If so, competing might be for you.
5. How much time should I devote to stretching each day? – Tony
I have a 10 minute stretching routine I do 3 times a day. Is that enough?
- It’s better to do a stretch routine all at once. Preferably at the end of your workout. Before your workout you can do a 10-15 minute one to get loose and get your blood flowing, but stretching is best done when you’re already warm. 3 times a day is good if you’re on limited time.
6. Are double-end anchors any good? – Oscar
I can’t find a single gym around here (Amsterdam) that has a double end bag. If I get a anchor, will they really stick to the floor with a double end bag? Any experience with those things?
- It depends on big your double-end bag is but those anchors definitely work. I use a 25lb weight at home as an anchor and it works well.
7. Johnny, what are your boxing credentials?
I am a new fan of expertboxing.com and I had a question in regards to the contributors of your site.
First off, the information presented on your site is excellent and easy to read. The format of the articles highlight the main points that are being illustrated allowing for a quick scan for a summary.
The only question or concern I have is where is the information coming from? Most bloggers or columnist will conclude with their credentials at the bottom. In your “about us” there were no mentions to Johnny N’s experience in boxing. So I am just asking for your credentials. Are you a student that is training in boxing? If so how long? Are you a boxing historian or analyst?
Thank you for your time.
- All will soon be explained on the new “About” page coming out soon. It will explain a little more about who I am and where I learned to box. Generally, I’m a guy with a lot of gym experience but little “official” competition experience. I am not a boxing historian or analyst. (What is that, anyway?) I’m don’t collect boxing posters or truly study the old time greats. I’m a guy who loves spending his time in the gym and learns by sparring different people. I enjoy boxing more than I do teaching it, but it is through sharing my love of the sport that I become a better boxer.
8. How should I prepare in the weeks before my boxing match? – Gowtham
I am a new (beginner) in boxing and I have a match after 15 days. In these short days, how should I prepare? What are the things I follow? Please tell some tips to face a match.
- Lots of speed and relaxation! Stretching, keep that cardio up, and keep your body warm! I’ve got no technique stuff for you, you’re either ready or you aren’t. Hopefully this isn’t your first match.
9. What should be the strategy against a short opponent with a longer reach than yours? – Jérôme
- Get inside his reach and use your height advantage. I’ve found it’s best to make guys with long arms miss. Their arms get tired faster when you make them swing at the air. They have to use their own muscle to carry the glove back to their chin. My drowning style will definitely work.
10. Do you recommend any specific handwrap for beginners? – Bethany
I wanted to know if there were any type of specific handwrap that you would recommend for a beginner. I have searched the internet and found some type of Everlast Evergel handwraps but should I maybe use a regular kind of handwrap since I am a beginner?
- Use the basic cotton handwrap, a 120-180″ length is good. Don’t use that Everlast Evergel stuff, it’s terrible! Get a real soft stretchy cotton handwrap and wrap your hands properly. I have a handwrap guide.
11. What is the first thing to learn when you start boxing? – Harneet
- The stance, basic steps, the jab, and the right hand. And then of course the basic defense to block those two.
12. Are you going to do any more boxing tricks videos? I loved the ones you did 🙂 – David F
- I will DEFINITELY be doing more videos! Be on the lookout.
13. What are some good ways to learn how to fight in the pocket? Like Floyd Mayweather – Kevin
- My favorite pocket fighters are Pernell Whitaker and James Toney. Practice that roll and slipping a lot. I have a few guides coming out in the near future that teach you how to do it correctly. It will take hundreds if not thousands of hours in training to learn how to stay in the pocket without getting hit.
14. How can I become a more tricky kind of fighter? – Kevin
- Act like you’re going to do something, but then do something else. Fake a jab, then throw it for real. Throw another jab but then turn it into a hook. Lift your right hand but then throw your left. Exhale sharply but don’t punch. Step forward with your front foot but then take a sidestep. You get the idea?
15. How do you throw fast snappy uppercuts? – Alex
When you see boxers shadow-boxing (pacquiao for example) they tend to throw really fast snappy uppercuts, as a beginner this really confused me, how do you pull them off and is there any benefit to doing this?
- Many boxers throw shorter punches while shadowboxing to work on their hand speed and coordination. They don’t extend the arm the full length because they want to get as many muscle twitches as possible in a short time. So it’s like 10 quick shifts of the shoulders in only 2 seconds. The arms are trained already so they want to finetune the movement and coordination of their whole body. When you see Pacquiao throw short punches, it might be that he’s working on pivoting his body fast and trying to get his feet to move quickly in sync with his hands.
16. How should I prepare my boxers after a break? – John
Hello, I have to prepare my amateur boxers after the break. I would like to know how to organize the best preparation for the championships in September and October to November that you will advise me what, you advise me of cycles.
- Treat them like new boxers but without the basic technique sessions. Work the conditioning slowly. Lots of slow controlled sparring. Then ramp up the conditioning and sparring speed in the weeks before the big tournament. A good cycle can be 4 weeks or 8 weeks.
17. I am 5 foot 10 and weigh 66kgs….do you think I will be short or tall for the weight division? – bhop
- Bhop, you would be considered tall! Develop your coordination, power, speed, and you’d be a trainer’s dream come true.
18. What exercises are best for boxers using Kettlebells? – Derek
- My all-time favorite is the kettlebell swing!
19. How do I know and set my punching range? – Vivek
- You learn your range through hours of testing it in the ring and on the heavy bag. Step your feet up the ring ropes and see how far your fist goes past it. Now do the same with a hook. Now you know your range. You set your punching range by the way that you place your feet.
20. How should I move my right foot when I throw my right hand? – Willy
They teach a different style here in Mexico than I learned in Norway in the 1970’s and up to 2000. It seems that the left foot is very far behind and that they lift up the right heal when they blows a right hand blow and the power is meant to come trough the opposite leg.
What I learned is more what I could find under: find your right stance.
That when I throw a right blow I will have the weight on the right leg with my heel planted on the ground. I’m I wrong in this or do these new style comes from watching Rocky movies.
From what I can see they must lose a lot of power in their punches.
Thanks in advance.
Best regards from
- The heel has to lift in order to allow your hip to rotate which gives the punch real power. Turning the heel will allow the hip to rotate even more.
21. Do you have any advice on how to be a good fighter? – Zabihullah
I am trying to be a fighter even though I am training now a days but I can’t reach my dreams. Please give me some advice to be a goooooooooood fighter. Thx.
- How to be a good fighter? Spar with guys that are better than you. Learn something new everyday. Keep talking to new trainers and new fighters, meet everybody!
22. Should I leave my fist vertical or horizontal when I throw the hook? – Srinivas
I’m confused with the hook, there are 2 types of hooks: one vertical 2nd is horizontal. Which is powerful and fast? Which hook do you want me to use??
- It depends. The vertical hooks have more range and work well to get around your opponent’s guard. The horizontal hooks are tighter and stronger on the inside. Use the one that fits your situation.
23. Why don’t you write a book? I would buy it. – Vinnie
- Vinnie, thank you for the support! I’m currently in writing a series of books to be unveiled when the time is right. Thank you!
24. How do you wrap your hands with gauze and tape? – Kevin
How much pad should I put on the knuckles, and what’s the best brand to buy? And the best place to buy it?
- Gauze and tape is for the pros or really serious amateurs. Unfortunately, I don’t have any experience with this. From what I saw the wrapping was pretty tight and snug and lots of padding was added around the knuckles.
25. Where do you put your thumb when you throw the overhand right? What about an overhand guide?- Lennart
- I’m definitely making a guide to the overhand right. As for the thumb, it’s always in the same place for me, tucked around my index finger.
26. How would a boxer minimize damage from a kick-boxer or MMA fighter. – Monty
I know this is an obscure question, but… For someone whose main focus is boxing, and without any knowledge of other martial arts, how would a boxer be able to minimize the damage taken from a Kick-Boxer or an MMA fighter. Not win the fight but but controlling the fight in a way that minimizes disadvantages for the boxer.
- This is a tough question because I don’t have much experience in either. Boxers aren’t taught techniques to defend against kicks and grappling. If I had to guess, you avoid a grappler by not letting him control your hips. As for kicks…I really have no idea what to think. Stay out of range and lift your knees to block, that’s all I know about avoiding kicks.
27. How much will it cost for me to get trained at a local gym by a boxer? – Justin P
- To be trained by a boxing trainer, can be anywhere from $50-100/month. To be trained by a boxer? Maybe free if you become his friend.
28. How to turn from orthodox to southpaw in a fight? – Sibtul
- Move one foot up, forward, or to the side during the fight. Time it so you switch stances at the right moment. I won’t teach this because I just don’t want beginners to be learning this stuff. They try too hard to force the switch and be tricky instead of using it only when the situation needs it.
29. What are the strengths and weaknesses between different boxing stances? – Sibtul
- Mainly the amount of mobility, offense, and defensive angles given to the boxer. The stance you choose allows more or less mobility. Maybe it makes it easier for you to attack and defend at certain angles while making you more vulnerable and less effective at different angles. The best boxing stance is the one that fits your style and body type.
30. Should I pivot my right foot when I throw the right hand? – Sibtul
My trainer tells me not to pivot my right foot when i throw a right hand! He tells me to push down on my toe and bend my knee. Is that correct?
- I’m not really sure how you’re standing but the main idea behind throw the right hand is that you want to pivot your hips. So whatever it is that you do with your feet, make sure it allows you to pivot your hips. And use whatever technique you feel is best to help you pivot that hip. For most people, I say it’s best to pivot the right foot.
31. What are some tips to escape from getting punched? – Raviteja
- Cover yourself. Step one way, then run the other.
32. How long and how do I practice to become good boxer? – Rohit
- Practice until you become good. This can be 6 months or 10 years. It depends on how fast you learn things, and the quality of boxing instruction you get. Being in shape and not having too much pride definitely helps you learn things faster.
33. How to get speed and power? – Mamu ka
- Proper conditioning, technique, and hours of practice. I have written guides on both of these.
34. What is a fight plan and how to design one? – Porter
- A fight plan is a strategic list of steps on how you plan to beat your opponent. You don’t really design them. The fight plan is your brain. It’s how you respond and deal with different situations. As you train more, you will come up with more ways to deal with different situations. By the time you appraoch the fight, your trainer only has to tell you what to watch out for and you will deal with it accordingly. Nobody goes in there with a playbook like a football game. The reason why is because boxing is so fast-paced. There’s no time to really think and analyze. You either have the trained reflexes or you don’t.
35. Can I be a pro boxer and what weight should I fight at? – Jesus R
Is it safe to say im gonna be a pro boxer heres the story: i absolutely loooooove boxing i really cant wait to compete i even wanna have several fights in a month if its not too bad for my brain, and is possible. I know there are pro boxers who have bad records and still have live fights and keep it up. I know im NOT gonna be the worst amateur out there because all three people who coached me say i have good hands seperately. If i continue to have this great love for boxing want to make it my life till an adult can i safely say im gonna be a pro boxer? Also im 14 and 5,4 feet i weight 125 but i have lots of fat how much should i weigh when i start competing
- If you’re 5’4″, I doubt you should fight above 122lbs. If you’re fat, then keep trimming down weight. Spar some other small guys your size and you’ll have an idea of what weight class you can compete at. Good luck and stay strong. Keep working to make those dreams come true!
36. Why does my lower back hurt? What do you think of head movement in amateur boxing? Should I use weights? – Eddie Penning
Hi, my name is eddie. I like your articles!
I don’t have much time to browse. I am a bit desparate and need your help. Okay I have been been boxing for a year. Previously did kickboxing for three years.It has been so tuff converting!
But anyways had my first boxing match a week ago and won in the first round via Tko.
My problem is ever since I started boxing my lower back is giving me problems. Whenever I shadowbox it hurts. We do warm up. This forces me not to throw with all my bodyweight and hips. Any advice?
What do you think about head movement in amateur boxing? It sound pretty strange but we don’t practise head movement at our gym.We keep our handsup and sort of catch the punches and then counterpunch or whatever from there..
Lastly I train two times a week at my gym.The rest of the week I train at home.do roadwork.I have a home gym set.But since I started boxing I barely use it.i am scared to put on weight and muscle..any advice on whether I should do some weights. The thing is I never needed wights to punch hard.I believe I am a born puncher. I don’t have all the skill in the world but I punch hard since I was small.
I weigh 169 pounds and want to box at 162.80 pounds. My length is 189. But I still want to look well ripped etc..
Do you see Jean Pascal? That’s how I want to look…
- Your lower back might be hurting because you bend over too much. Or at least that’s what happened to me when I was a beginner. Work those leg muscles so you learn to use your legs more to get low instead of using your back. Head movement is definitely needed in amateur boxing but not as much as good blocking, parrying, and rolling skills. Most gyms don’t teach you how to slip because the good fighters learn that naturally once they reach a certain level. My trainer taught me how to slip but it wasn’t until I sparred really good boxers that I really learned how to do it. If you don’t need the punching power, use weights to build your endurance. You don’t need weights but they can help if you don’t know any bodyweight exercises to target specific areas.
37. Is 20 minutes of training enough time to learn boxing? – spyrK
I’m practicing at home. I have a boxing torso & a double end bag. I want to have a daily program but not more than 20 minutes. Is this time enough for a standalone practice? If so, please suggest me a program to follow by your knowledge. Thank you very much!
- Is 20 minutes enough time to get better at boxing? Yes but I don’t think you can win an Olympic medal training that little. Some training is better than no training. Did you check out the EASY Boxing Workout I put out a while ago? It doesn’t take much time but still works on your skills. Follow the drills as best as you can if you have no time for the conditioning part.
38. How can I be a pro boxer if I can’t afford a boxing gym? – Robert S
I’m almost 30 and I’ve taken a few lessons thru the years read some books and have learned a lot training myself for the past 6 years I can no longer afford to go to a gym but I want to be a pro boxer what should I do?
- Walk to any gym that has pro boxers training there. Tell the trainers or their management team that you want to go pro but don’t have money to pay for training. They’ll check you out, see your potential and decide what to do with you.
39. Would it be possible to open a boxing gym or start a boxing club without much in gym experience? – Robert S
I’m looking for any way possible to be a profesional boxer and I think I have a good program of my own to train good fighters what I really need is someone to bounce ideas off of what should I do?
- You don’t have to start your own boxing gym. Just go to one that’s already existing and offer to help their fighters for free. Start low, training little kids. Tying up their gloves, running with them, and getting them in shape. I have no pro experience but still I made a website that helps boxers all over the world. Follow your heart!
40. Should I find a new gym or stay? There’s one coach I like and one I don’t. – H
It’s me H, the guy you advised to look for another coach. First of all compliments again on your website, it is extremely helpful and you should be proud of yourself!
If you catch some time maybe you can answer me with some advice, if you not don’t worry – I’d understand.
When I began boxing about 2 years ago I had just abandoned competitive Rowing, so I was already in shape. I started training at the local Gym with the best reputation and because they have 3 champions, one of them even had the world champion title from IBC (2007 – 2009). His name is Ruby Belge. There are 4 physical preparators at the Gym and two coaches. One of them is absolutely awesome and very skilled at training boxers – he is the one who made the champions. As this is his profession – full time – he trains his professional boxers and searches for talents with the young boxers (10 -13 years). All the others who just start too “late” normally get trained by the second coach, who is barbarous, stupid and has serious issues with men that are taller than him (and not fat). In other words he hates me, I’m 1.95 meters tall (6 ft 4 i think), weigh 75 kg and am in very good shape (endurance, speed and strength).
Thanks to these formerly acquired skills I managed to stand out and soon got “promoted” to train with his amateur boxers. That’s when I started discovering “how to get beat up”, or as you say “swim or sink” boxing. It sucked but I love the sport, and I hate giving up. Soon after the lead coach (the skilled one) noticed me. So this summer while his champs rested, he trained me 2 months straight – private lessons!! I remember the first time he called me his pupil, it was after the first week of training with him. If I tell you how proud, happy and honored I felt in that moment, you might understand how good a person he is (other than his training skills). He gave me all those lessons for free, he wouldn’t accept payment even though I insisted. So obviously, a part from getting along really well with each other, he must think I am very talented.
He told me from the beginning that when his boxers came back, he would have less time for me, and I completely understand that, especially since I’m a student and will not forfeit my studies for a boxing career (of which he could obtain profit and pay a living). He just wanted me to learn the basics of footwork, balance, defense and punching correctly, so I’d have a chance in my amateur bouts.
Unfortunately now, whenever the good coach is not around, the other one tries to get back at me for being better than the average sucker, so he likes seeing me get beat up by his son, and he will probably do everything to make me loose my first fight. He will look for a fighter with my anti-style and as far as possible more experienced than me.
I cannot leave this gym, because I learn so much from time to time with the good coach (about 1-2 times per week he trains me, and it’s a lot since he is very busy), and plus I already owe him so much for the 2 months of private lessons. He showed me the real world of boxing, and what a beautiful sport it is!! I had no idea before! I will start sparring under his surveillance tomorrow, so that will be very good I think.
Do you still think I should change gym, under these circumstances? Any tips for surviving sparring with the way more experienced boxer that doesn’t remotely hold back? He has fought over 30 amateur matches, is a swarmer, but has very accurate punches, they always go there where it hurts. I’ve read your article on how to control them, problem is I am so unaccustomed to the ring that I panic and stop breathing. Being winded makes it impossible to fight properly.. awful situation..
Just thought to share 🙂
- Learn what you can from the gym and avoid that jerk coach. Smile, say “hi” and go straight to your training. Don’t get in the ring with his son or any of his fighters and don’t ask him to work with you. If he adjusts you, thank him for it but keep to yourself. Surely there will be other people that like working with a respectful and skilled boxer as yourself. When you feel there is no more quality of guidance to that gym, just leave and find another. The good trainer will have been proud to be an influence on you. There are no hard feelings because good boxers come and go all the time. A good trainer will respect your decisions in boxing.
41. What’s the best thing I can do for speed? – Jesus R
I love Sugar Ray Leonerds hands. From the speed to the thinness. What arm exercises did he do? For sure he never lifted weights, right? I wanna have thin arms like his for speed but I already have natural muscle as it is so what are some exercises I should avoid and do for increasing speed? Also what do you think of shadowboxing with 2 or 3 pounds weights. Floyd Mayweather uses weights and is incredibly fast.
- Awesome question, man! I’m proud that you want skinny boxer arms. It’s one of those things that nobody ever asks for and only people who know boxing will care about. Dumbbells are not for shadowboxing, you use them for arm movements to work the shoulders and forearms but don’t throw fast punches with them! As for speed, have you read my speed guide? Please follow that. It really works.
42. Can you modernize the falling step? Please? – Sibtul
- Yes, I can. In fact, most experienced boxers today know the falling step…it’s just that they call it something else. I have a guide on it coming soon. The falling step is all about effectively putting weight into your movements in the shortest time/distance possible.