7 reasons why sparring with bigger opponents will keep you from improving as a boxer.
I see way too many beginner boxers too eager to prove their worth by sparring with a bigger opponent. Although fighting bigger opponents will certainly prove to yourself and anybody else watching that you’re a brave strong little man, you’ll do little to improve your boxing skills. There’s nothing wrong with challenging yourself in the ring but it is wrong to think that sparring with bigger fighters regularly will make you a better boxer.
So why is it that you shouldn’t always be sparring with bigger opponents? I list the reasons below:
Fighting For Survival
(This is the most important one!) The fight quickly becomes very one-sided as your attitude becomes more defensive with each passing second. The simple fact is, you can’t take his punch and you don’t have the defensive skills to get yourself out of the way. Blocking punches doesn’t work because his heavy hands crash through your defense like rocks through paper.
What happens next is what I see ALL THE TIME: the smaller boxer will start to make up his own techniques for “slipping”. He starts to bend at the waist, lean forward into his opponent, or lean back, and sometimes turn his head sideways away from his opponent. He’ll cower behind a high guard or Philly shell defense (the rear hand in front of face, front hand dropped low) and take his eyes off his opponent. At this point, he’s no longer fighting back…he’s just trying to survive.
It gets even worse, the smaller fighter starts to get real good at “surviving” and routinely loses fights against bigger guys with the confidence of knowing they were “too big to beat”. His friends even build his ego by patting him on the back for taking on such “big challenges”. He builds a habit of always skillfully losing and it becomes all he ever knows how to do.
You Don’t Know What Works
How are you supposed to know if what you’re doing is working? You don’t know if you’re punching correctly or boxing correctly because he might be too big to feel your punches. How would I ever know how hard I was punching if I was simply hitting a brick wall that doesn’t sway or give me any feedback. While standing up to bigger opponents will build your ego, what you should be doing is building your skills by training with something that can give you feedback. A smaller opponent will show signs of pain and lose balance when you outbox him properly. A bigger opponent…well, he might just laugh at you.
Big Guys Are Slower
The most common advantage I’ve seen people use to beat a bigger opponent is speed. While it looks impressive in sparring, it may give you a false sense of security. You start to believe your own hype and consider yourself the next Muhammad Ali. So what happens next? You go to a tournament and get beat up by somebody your own size because he’s faster and can slip all your punches.
The Big Guy’s Defense Sucks
The big guy is not afraid of your punches because they don’t hurt him at all. He’ll fight you with risky tactics and uncharacteristically jump in with wild movements he wouldn’t normally use. He’ll fight with a lazy guard and take punches eagerly. Everything you throw will land and he doesn’t seem to care. Your offensive skills will stagnate and you won’t realize it until you find yourself in the ring against someone who cares about defense.
Fighting To Win, Not To Learn
The guy is so big that you’re not focused on learning. You’re busy figuring out ways to survive and win. What typically follows is that you learn a trick or method of beating the big guy and you stick with it the entire fight. You avoid practicing new boxing skills since “practicing” means you have to take some punches in the process.
You Develop Bad Balance
Although you can match a bigger guy’s punching power or ability to take a punch, you will NEVER match his body weight. That means every time he moves into you, you will never have enough body weight to overcome his mass. You will lose balance as he pushes you around and lands blocked punches on you. Overtime you will develop a bad balance and even worse, the bad habit of giving up ground too easily. I am totally guilty of this because of too much sparring with bigger opponents. The habit is so ingrained that I sometimes give up ground even against smaller opponents even when they’re not really pushing me.
The Big Guy Can’t Or Won’t Challenge You
Another common scenario: the bigger opponent is unable to challenge you because he is not as skilled as you (probably the reason why you’re sparring him, right?) or he is definitely too skilled and doesn’t want to hurt you because you are smaller. If you’re sparring with a bigger guy who can’t match you in skills, you won’t learn much since your skills will always be better than his no matter how crappy you box. The other alternative is that the bigger guy doesn’t see it fair for him to hit you full force or push you since you’re a smaller guy and so he takes it easy on you. You’ll dangerously build the false confidence of thinking that your abilities are better than they really are because you believed the big guy was giving 100% effort.
Final Thoughts About Sparring Bigger Opponents
Ultimately, learning how to box means you should be training in conditions that promote and foster the development of overall boxing skills. In my opinion, sparring with bigger opponents will develop more of your survival skills than it does your fighting skills. Given all variables are equal, a bigger opponent will have an undeniable advantage over you and force you into a mode of minimizing damage taken instead of maximizing damage given.
My favorite way to elevate my skill is to fight a smaller but more skillful opponent. I can learn as they outbox me because their power isn’t hurting me as much. Their better speed and coordination forces me to think faster.
The same boxing skills that would defeat a larger opponent should defeat a smaller opponent, so why not spar with a smaller opponent where you can focus more on fighting instead of surviving? Ultimately, training should reflect actual fighting conditions and you’ll always be more likely to compete against boxers your own size. There’s a reason why weight classes exist – think about it.
I was wondering if its bad to be constantly doing the opposite and fighting smaller opponents because Im the largest amatuer at my gym and I mean as in Im currently cruiser but most of the other guys are middle and lower does this mean Ill start to overestimate my damage taking and be unable to take punches of my own weightclass or does my fellow amatuer difference in sparring glove weight (eg lighter/less padding) make up for this difference
I don’t really have a boxing gym in my area (this is excluding fitness kickboxing gyms) but I have a buddy who is rather experienced in boxing, street fighting, and MMA. I really want to learn to box so I’ve been sparring and learning from him. Only issue is I’m 6’5″ 170lbs and he is 6’2″ 240lbs. Do you have tips to reduce the damaging effects of boxing bigger people? I have very little experience so I’m really trying to learn how to slip, jab, and cross correctly so I can at least land a few things on his chin before I get bowled over. I know it’s not an optimal training setting but I really enjoy it either way.
If you have “very little experience”, you should not be fighting that guy. It’s not fair and it’s not going to help you learn much if he starts to use his size. Or if you do it anyway, then don’t complain about it.
big guys fighting small guys
You’ve brought up an interesting point and YES, it’s bad if you’re always sparring guys smaller than you. It’s not just that you hit hard but also because you’re so strong that you force them off balance even when you’re technique is not solid. The smaller guys will fight scared against and they won’t really be able to push you the same way a guy your size would. Regardless, just spar with whomever you get and do whatever you can to even things up.
I am and educated, 5.8 140lbs fighter. If anybody wants to spar, please email me at [email protected]. By the way, I currently train at Eddie Herredia Boxing Club in East Los Angeles.
A lot of this impresses me to think that this article is really about arrogance of beginners who all think they’re billy the bad ass b/c they know a few boxing moves. I wouldn’t go out of my way to pick a fight w/a big guy. If it happens, it happens, but I don’t knowingly have what’s known as a Napoleanic Complex. Somehow I have a hard time in believing that the disadvantages are all in the big guy’s favor. There are advantages to being short as well such as being able to run where giants dare not tread!
So this concept only applies to beginners?
how do i beat a bigger opponent??…considering if he is not trained??..consider it a street fight..i dont normally go looking for fightz but my society is full of hotheadz that look for trouble with innocent people..i want to be ready if the worst is to come.
fighting bigger guys
Insidius – I think the idea applies to anyone that doesn’t have the skills and/or physical ability to spar regularly with bigger guys
knoxzvil – How you doing, man? About beating bigger guys…. outbox them, and knock them out. Seriously.
i see..il stick to that from now on…there’s also another thing i really need your help on…i noticed i developed a habit myself during sparring,..when im fighting,im tryn not to rush in..but i also dont want to let him take da first hit…what do u think is the smart move?
the smart move is to win the entire round
There are many ways to do this. Some guys come out slow and set traps. Other guys come out fast and try to get respect early. Other guys just like to block for the first 10 seconds to see what their opponents will do. Some guys hit very hard in the first 10 seconds to scare their opponent and then they relax the rest of the round. It’s all up to you. Try everything and figure out your boxing style.
il defin8ly do that…but im afraid il be a little late for that coz my fight is this friday…i guess i have2stay confident and stay alert.
Let me know how you do.
i am body boxing a bigger kid tomorrow after football and i was wondering if you have any tips for body boxing bigger guys. Should i try to hit him hard and knock the wind out of him or be defensive?
body shot tips
Aim for the solar plexus. Use some shoulder pushes to knock him off balance when he punches and then you punch right away. Put some onto his arms to weaken them.
You should always be defensive.
Matt the office guy
Very Odd Question
I work in a regular office 9-5 job, me and this skinny prick I work with have been doing physical challenges, I am former D-1 O-Lineman (6-4, 325Ibs 28 years) he is a regular guy runs regularly plays basketball stays active (5-10, 190Ibs, 25 years) and the next physical challenge is a boxing match, 5 – 3 minute rounds. I have a 80Ibs bag at home and use it regularly, I know he is faster than I am (last competition was a 40 yard dash he beat me by 2 strides) not too much faster again D-1 Lineman (I doubt lineman would get much physical respect on a boxing site but we are serious athletes to prove: I can still throw up a 400Ibs bench, my squat has decreased from 675 to 500 and my forty, as I’m ashamed to admit, is over 5.2 now). I am by no means under estimating my opponent this kid is a crafy quick little jerk and I want to cave in his face. I mean I want him to go retarded after this, I think I should go in swing with a big over hand right, hit him hard to slow him down, any ideas on if this is a bad idea? I’ve only fought on the line and a couple times, sad to say in a street situations, a long time ago. Should I start going back to my lifting to get my arms and chest back to higher numbers than listed above? How hard should I expect his punches to land while wearing 16oz gloves? Any tips to knock the crap out of a much smaller person would be greatly appreciated. I have about 5 months before the match so I will be doing a lot of running hope to be at around 300Ibs come match time. [email protected].
Whoever has more training is going to win. If you don’t have real boxing training, I suggest you aim for his chest. If you can catch him there, then go for the head next. If you swing for the head first, you could miss and he’ll land a huge counter if he’s faster. You don’t need to lift. Just speed up your hands and get in serious shape.
Matt the office guy
Very Odd Question
Johnny N, Thanks for the advise, I’ve been hitting the jump rope starting out 5 rounds 3 minutes shift between heavy bag then rope = 1 round 3 mins each. So I will be dropping weight very fast. I’m wondering what a hit from a small guy like that will feel like, he isn’t strong at all just tries to keep in shape so a lot of running not a lot of lifting I think so I don’t exactly expect much but like I said I’m not taking this lightly.
@ Matt the office guy – I’m cheering for you. Let me know how it goes.
Not Too Short
So how big is too big?
I’m 5’8″ and 138 lbs and a beginner. A couple of the guys I’ve sparred with are 1) my size but about 40 lbs heavier. slow but punches are hard to stop and hurt.Hate to go inside and clinch.
2) about 6′ and 20 lbs heavier. Able swing and catch me. his “light” punches also don’t feel too good. I go inside and clinch for a little relief.
So what would you consider a reasonable size?
@Not Too Short – 40lbs is wayyyy too big. Even 15 pounds can be too big. If you have to ask, then they’re too big. It’s that simple. Find someone your own size and work every skill possible with them before you start hunting for bigger game. Looks to me like you’re stuck in survival mode when you’re outsized.
Im 5’6, 158 lbs and im always stuck with bigger guys who are like 5’9 & up, who weigh 180+. I dont mind it though because most of them dont have as much experience as me, but when i do spar someone the same skill level but bigger, i feel like it just makes me a better fighter, and fighting someone smaller/ my size is even easier now. in my opinion sparring bigger opponents can be more helpful once you get enough experience to not get beat up. Whats your take on this?
It is Thursday April 21, 2011
In 17 hours I have a sparring for the first time in a long time.
I am a little nervous, but after reading these pointers, my mind is a little more calm.
I am 184.6, this is a little taller than myself, I’m 5’10 he’s 6’0 to 6’1, I have been thinking inside body shots with a couple of uppers, but I realized that may be a dire move on my part.
I totally forgot about how inportant my jabs are, thanks man, you have good resources.
Smallest guy at the gym
Tricky one for me because I’m by far the smallest guy at my gym. 5 ft 6 112lbs. If I want any type of sparring I have to spar guys many weight classes my senior, any advice?
I see way too many beginner boxers too eager to evening dresses
@PortsmouthPrince – make sure they go light. Or try sparring girls? Make sure those guys go fast but light. But yeah, it is hard. I was 140 when I did serious boxing and it was hard even for me to find same size sparring partners.
Smallest guy at the gym
Actually had a good sparring session yesterday (after reading many of your articles) and had some really decent rounds even pulled off a check-hook.
I’m a little worried now that the qaulity of my sparring won’t be great because I can’t find similar weighted sparring partners. Guess you’ve just gotta roll with what you’ve got eh?
mate i am the smallestguy in my gym in terms of height as well as muscle mass. ( i am a flyweight) , what should i do?
@TOM – it’s a common problem. Most trainers will remedy this by calling around other gyms and finding you similar sized sparring partners. Otherwise, you’ll just have to use the closest thing. The featherweights and the heavyweights have the hardest time.
Yet another excellent read Mr. Johnny N.
I couldn’t agree more, I used to love sparring bigger guys and take joy in handling my own or coming out on top. However, when I didn’t, I wasn’t able to adjust, and it created bad habits that, as you mentioned, sometimes carried into my own size/weight giving me a disadvantage.
change of thought
” There’s a reason why weight classes exist – think about it.”
Makes me want to learn judo.
Hi Sir Johny
First thanks for the wonderful website..
I have a fight coming up with a guy 40lbs bigger than me but with the same height and arm reach…
what should be my best strategy to win here.. I really want to win this time 😉
Please help and let me know…
Also what should I eat on the fight day? my fight will be round 6pm
Tedbaker, 40lbs is a huge difference to overcome. See if you can get him to move. Keep walking around him, don’t run or jump away. Use your legs but WALK. Try to tire him out by making him walk to you. When he’s not paying attention, pepper him with some shots and then WALK AWAY from him.
Fight day, you eat clean…some fruits and juices but nothing that will take long to digest. Keep your body clean and light.
I’m a big guy. I will destroy you.
Probably your sparring partners should include all sizes and styles of fighters, or they should include lighter fast fighters if you lack speed, bigger or stronger fighters if you lack strength etc. I guess if you’re a say a hard punching middleweight who really bangs you might have to work with Lt. Heavys or even Heavys because most guys your size or smaller can’t take your power. Of course as the article mentioned that fighter’s speed will suffer if he continues to work with only larger fighters. I’m just using middleweights as a common example since a middleweight is usually the average size man out there, and many professional middleweights “walk around” at 170-180lbs in good shape when not training. This type of fighter would get in good work with anyone from 135-200lbs depending on his needs, whether it’s speed from sparring with the lightweight/welterweight fighters or aquiring stamina & strength from having 200 pounders push and lean on you, or even conditioning yourself to take punches from lt. heavys and cruisers. Of course a middleweight shouldn’t bang out lightweights or welterweights in sparring if he’s working on his speed, and consequently a 205 pounder shouldn’t make it a goal to render a 160-180lb sparring partner senseless. There are exceptions to the rule, however, if you truly are a world class puncher. I’ve read that when Duran was lightweight champion he often had to spar with middleweights because he punched too hard for most fighters in the 130-140lb range and that he would even take out middleweights. Other fighters like Rocky Graziano had the same problem as Duran and often had to spar with larger opponents. Although never a champion it was said 80’s middleweight fringe contender Curtis Parker was nearly unbeatable in the gym and gave Lt.Heavy/Cruiser champ Dwight Qawi and Lt.Heavy/Heavy champ Michael Spinks all they could handle. It was even rumored that Parker got the best of Thomas Hearns when Hearns was training in Philly. Even former Heavyweight champ Tim Witherspoon said that the 5’7″ 160lb Parker stunned him in sparring sessions. Parker was like a mini-Joe Frazier and was a super hot prospect in the early ’80’s but unfortunately losses to fellow contenders Mustapha Hamsho, Dwight Davison, Alex Ramos(great fight), Wilfred Scypion, and John Mugabi all but ended his career. Parker was the classic “gym fighter” who could look like a world beater in the gym but he never could replicate that success in big fights under the bright lights. It was said Jerry Quarry got the best of Joe Frazier in sparring when Frazier was in California for some training and we all know that Frazier gave Quarry a beating in both of their fights particularly in the second one.
Im 6foot 2, 76kg 81inch reach. Now this new guy has came into my boxing gym, he train for a few yrs he has good skill and confident, but he style is dangerous for him as he open, now this guy is like 87 kg but probs 6foot and his reach is only like 74inch. Even though he has 11kg on me am i the bigger guy in the ring, When we watch the video im the bigger guy in there, but in the ring it feels like he is massive in there and with his decent skills and speed it makes me intentative. ive only been boxing 6 months and i have a world class coach he says i have better skills then him, but he like what are you doing. Im being stupid in the ring really. WHY.
Fear will make you do that. Either train harder or find some other way to conquer your fears to take on this big challenge.
Gosh, you nailed the pin on the head with this………
“How are you supposed to know if what you’re doing is working? You don’t know if you’re punching correctly or boxing correctly because he might be too big to feel your punches. How would I ever know how hard I was punching if I was simply hitting a brick wall that doesn’t sway or give me any feedback. While standing up to bigger opponents will build your ego, what you should be doing is building your skills by training with something that can give you feedback. A smaller opponent will show signs of pain and lose balance when you outbox him properly. A bigger opponent…well, he might just laugh at you”
I am the smallest at my gym by a good 15 lbs so I am always having to spar bigger girls because obviously its important for me to get work instead of no work at all. Usually it is totally fine because they know how to control themselves, but sometimes, on days where a bigger girl is really feeling it, and seemingly forgetting I am a lot smaller, it can be pretty painful, but my coach insists that I have to spar the bigger more experienced girls to get to the next level. He also refuses to admit when they are throwing harder and kind of makes me feel like a baby. Thoughts?
If you don’t like it, don’t get in the ring with those girls….especially if you feel like they’re holding back your progress. Also, if you’re not even looking to compete or become a wildly successful amateur, there’s no reason to take a beating.
I am unfortunatley the smallest person at the thai boxing club at uni. I unfortunatlry missed most of my first uni year, but this year i want to do some sparring, however it will be different than the sparring I’ve done before ’cause I did Karate that wasn’t full-contact. Any advice?
Find a place with smaller guys. Or spar with bigger guys and ask them to go lighter.
hello Johnny N, thanks for all the tips u are sharing out. am a box thanks to that your tips i had 6 fights which i all won them so i really need to go ahead and fight with more people.
I sparred someone alot heavier, stronger, and with no remorse and never went light. I shouldn’t have trusted this guy but I did. I’m 5’11 140 lbs , hes 5’11 180lbs +. He had no mouthguard just a helmet. I didn’t want to hit to hard obviously, but he ended up knocking me down and went 100%.
I learned my lesson, not to sparr with complete tards who could care less if they hurt you seriously.
And this guy goes on to say he will knock me out next sparr and was taunting me while i was knocked down/collecting myself again.
Needless to say, this guy is a complete bully and i realized hes just using me as a punching bag. its really quite sad and broke my spirit as a fighter. I got hit with solid punches 100% power , repeatedly. maybe around 30+. I only hit him with 2-3 punches. I was too busy being off balance from this guy just rushing in, even if I blocked his punches I would fly backwards. It was humiliating…I blocked/dodged so many of his hardest punches, so I feel pretty happy about that. If it wasn’t for my semi-knowledge about boxing I might have been in the hospital right now. I even kept fighting after getting knocked down, and landed a solid right lead hook ( Im southpaw ).
It just frustrates me, and not to sound like I’m crying but I’m really hurt emotionally. Not physically.
I had no physical side effects besides a slight headache.
Be careful out there, man. Be smart!
^^^ video of the sparr
Oh man, that’s a very high class boxing… definitely professional style footwork and combos… respect:)) and I think you could also try your chance at UFC:))
ty for response
johhy thanks for these statement i learn alot i weight 135 my trainer always spar me on 180 and 160 and they beat me he said its ok now i wont spar with these big guys i will compete amature boxing in feb 16 in 125 catch weight i it will be my first tme i only do 1 monts of boxing iam 2 months on doing boxing in feb 10 do you think iam ready to compete
Go to a boxing match and watch the guys in your weight class and you can decide for yourself if you’re ready or not.
Thanks for the advice. I have been sparring for the last couple of days and i sparred two mexican style fighters and oh boi!! They are relentless i need to get into shape because i have good power and decent speed, i weigh a 181lbs for now and trying to get ready for the California golden gloves…wish me luck on that haha! Both my sparring partners as of late are respectively 200lb+ and they seem to walk thru my jabs with the head gear with nose and mouth protector like its nothing and i usually keep guys off of me in sparring matches. I wanted to know what u think, So my question is do u think its the head gear and small ring we fight????… I am 6’4 and they are rought 6’0 and 5’10roughly. I seem to to into survival mode when i really tired and i cant get away from there punches because they are always eatin my space up and pressing pace of fight, but i think its the head gear thats allows them to take my jabs so well an i can jab hard. They told me i had amazing power in my right hand when i hit them but to me it doesn’t even move them… Im am a beginner boxer who only had a total of 10 sparring matches with 7 different people and no fights and have the old guy type trainer as described in your article “finding a great boxing trainer” i guess i gained his repect when i fought, but i dont care about respect i want to improve my skills as fast as possible we haven’t ever worked on defensive drills, since i been with him for a total of 4months but known him for 2years off and on training.Thanks for your reply in advance. Sorry for the long post you all haha.
Your sparring story seems normal to me considering you have less experience and less weight.
Thanks for the reply. Its much appreciated.
Derf of Deutchland
Lightweight vs. Heavyweight (Sparr)
Hey Johnny , I have read a lot of your articles and everytime I read one I learn something new. I love learning new things to add to my training routine . But I wanted to tell you , I statded boxing 3 months ago with like a week or two , and I usually spar more experienced smaller boxers that jave like 10 fights and I really leatn a lot. We give out really good sparring sessions , and I was starting to think that I was pretty good . But today I sparred with another begineer who has been here like a month or two , who weights like 22 more pounds then me . I felt over powered and his punches really felt hard , I was loosing my balance and technique very badly , and I just felt really bad about my performance since he has been here only like 2 months and has like no skill . Is it just that his superior size is too much , or is my technique really bad and he took me from boxing to a street fight , trowing me lots of punches , I don’t do the same mistakes when I spar with the smaller more experienced boxers. Should I just spar with the other smaller more experienced ones or should I work with the bigger ones on keeping my ground and boxing effictevely even when being trown lots of hard punches and not being able to block them well since my defense isnt so good ?
Different boxers will challenge you in different ways. Keep working and keep improving! It takes time.
Hey Johnny my name is jayson and im a beginning boxer. (3 months, 1 year break, another month). I’m 5’9 and 160. I went from around 130-165 from lifting then started boxing again. I look a lot smaller but weigh the same so maybe my body fat went down and muscle mass went up. (Dropped 5 lbs only). I run 3 miles up in the mountains and I’m working on core . the other day I sparred with a man who was in his 30’s maybe? I just turned 18 today… Anyway he was probably 5’11 and 190-200 lbs. he has a year and a half of boxing experience. In the 3 rounds we sparred he just kept coming and coming, we spar in a smaller ring. Probably 8’x8′. I felt I couldn’t even phase him and I was just backing up in a circle getting swung on the whole time. Survival mode. How do you learn from a match like that if that’s your only choice as a sparring partner? By the way, love your videos thinking about signing up on your site as a member. Thanks for all the cool tips. I really liked the video that described the 3 axis. Also on pro fighters. I’m still finding my style but I like the craftiness of Roy jones jr. What are some of his main tricks ? Thanks Johnny , – your friend jayson. P.s. I’ve been taking videos of me boxing. If I somehow sent videos of me hitting the bag/sparring with people for 3 mins.. Could you criticize those videos? Almost like online training.. I would pay you! I feel I need more training and more advice right now so I can grow. I really want to learn and improve rather than end up as my boxing teams “punching bag” to spar with. I don’t know how serious my trainer is about teaching me. Thanks again Johnny, – Jayson
1. Don’t take matches that don’t allow you to learn. Being a punching bag makes you tougher (maybe) but it doesn’t make you a better fighter.
2. Roy Jones Jr has many tricks, I’d have to cover that someday in a separate article.
3. Check out my Fight Review service in the SHOP link above.
First wanted to say thanks again for the help you provided me many months ago regarding defiense against orthodox cross/overhand .
I since found success and comfort in defending and countering out of the Philly shell ( i am orthodox stance), just slightly altered such that I am able to using it in kickboxing. As you might expect I encounter some problems related to the Philly shell when facing southpaws, primarily heavier southpaws. I actually have had no difficulty seeing and deflecting the southpaw left cross, but the southpaw overhand from a heavier opponent is giving me trouble .
I seem to always be able to block the overhand with my right arm, however it feels as so though I am still taking a lot of residual damage. Additionally, the southpaw overhand pushes me out of position and I am unable to counter with my left.
Any tips or advice and handling this punch would be greatly appreciated. it is the only shot right now that I seem consistently absorb extra damage and cannot deflect despite blocking it. Aside from intercepting it with my straight right, what can I do from a defense perspective to better handle, deflect, or absorb this shot?
Thank you so much,
Austin, your point about getting pushed or collecting residual damage from the southpaw left is a topic I went over with the BOXING FIT FACTORY guy in my Youtube video. Search my channel for southpaw videos and you will find it. Basically, one thing you can try is putting your front foot on the INSIDE of his front foot…this will put you in a different angle where it’s easier for you slip the southpaw left hand more cleanly.
Hey Johnny, I have a huge issue with sparring partners, I’m a 140 pounds 5’8 and basically the closest person my weight is around a 150 pound 5’6 dude all muscle, which isn’t that bad at all; but the big problem is the fact that we switch sparring partners between each round, yesterday I sparred with a 6’5 440 pound guy and it was horrible, I couldn’t do anything at except attempt to get in close and throw hooks to his body which I doubt did anything at all given that he has a beer belly around the same size as the sun; his “light” jabs gave me a bloody nose and a slightly bruised eye. The people I spar with, with the exception of the 150 pound guy are all 5’10+ and 155 lbs+. What can I do to make the playing field more equal?
To even the field? 1) Get better. 2) Stop sparring bigger guys.
It’s a common problem not to find guys your size…for this reason, it’s best to go spar at other gyms as well. This can also help you get accustomed to fighting strangers and make competitions less daunting for you.
Good article thanks. This totally resonated with me tonight as I am smaller at about 135-140. Had round of sparring with a guy who cornered me a few times and rung my bell. Saw the flash and everything.
After the round I asked him his weight. He said 185. The guy was laying into me and is less experienced. At first I was mad at myself for not handling his poor technique better.
But after reading this, I like to think that my approach against people my size depends largely on my punches inflicting actual damage. So If we meet again I will use my brain. Thanks for the post!
“The other alternative is that the bigger guy doesn’t see it fair for him to hit you full force or push you since you’re a smaller guy and so he takes it easy on you.”
Since i’m the biggest guy in my club, i always take it easy, always try to hit the lighter i could, even when i was beginning.
But you know, the hardest guy i spared with was really way smaller than me (although he was really fast and bulky). So size doesn’t really matter.
Also, you’re saying that biggers guys don’t have a good guard and don’t really care about defense, it’s false (well, for me). I always try to block, parry and evade punches, knowing that the guys are way faster than my reaction time (i’m kinda slow in my head, lol).
Anyways, i think it’s also kinda a good idea to try to spar with a bigger opponent since it’ll help you work your in-boxing.
Johnny, I am 119 and am now training for the golden gloves with my gyms team. We spar every other day and there is no one even close to my weight. I’m 17 and they are all adults and weigh at the least 30 pounds heavier. Most are more skilled and sometimes quicker then me since I’m relatively new but my punches are powerfull and hurt them. I often get complemented for that. The problem is that I feel like all the things my coach teaches me would work I. Someone around my weight but don’t really work as well on such drastically bigger oppopnent and therefore I never feel like I have a chance at dominating the sparring session. Any advice on how to compete against such opponents.
Well I had my first fight this weekend a charity event and I felt as though I was up against it. I’m 5ft 9 weigh in at 163 pounds. The other guy was 6ft- 6ft 1 , and said he weighed 187 pounds he had also fought before.I went out slipping his jab and countering but I felt as though he had more weight than he let on and also he was switching from orthodox to southpaw during the fight (he’s only fought once before for charity and had 8 weeks training) his right cross and uppercut i took and after a flurry had a standing 8. After that I found that every time he went for it I had to just fire back and move but I found my right wasn’t doing the business. I hurt him but couldn’t rock him. Never seen the lad spar because I was in the middleweight category and he was heavyweight. I got told by one of the other lads we might have been paired purely because I’m nearly as fit as him. My question is does this sound like an unfair match up and also what can I do in the future against larger opponents that switch up their fighting style.
Hey, I’m currently training for my debut on March 24th and I couldn’t agree more with this article but I’m the smallest guy at the gym and fighting at 126 and the next smallest guy is 154lbs and although I spar with bigger guys and have to use my speed to go in and out. They all have massive reach advantages and I’m wary to commit due to the fact I’ll eat a stiff jab. Do you know how I can get passed this so I can land combos? When I try step in with head movement they either take a step back or follow me with their jab. Unfortunately, there aren’t any smaller sparring partners available. I’m worried I’ll either be shocked by the speed of a 126 fighter on fight night or that I’ll feel like the hulk as I spar bigger. What do you think?
Unfortunately this will always be the case for the smallest guys as well as the biggest guys. You’ll have to make do with what you have. The best thing is to have a higher skilled opponent who knows how to slow down and take the power off his shots in order to work with you. Might be nice to find a pro who can really work with you and that also helps develop your skills a whole lot. I sure wish I sparred with pros more instead of amateurs looking to prove something.
You know am actually glad i came across this article, just yesterday i had my sparring session ( this is only my 5th time sparring ) , i started boxing about 2 months ago. In all my previous sparring sessions i was matched with guys who were also starting to box or very very experienced boxers who were sparring with me just to make me better, at times they would stop in the middle of the sparring to ask me if am doing alright, or if they had an opportunity to land a good shot, they would actually tell me put your hands up instead of blowing my head off. Which is very pleasing to me, knowing someone that’s in there trowing hands has that much control to hold themselves back and focus on me rather than taking advantage of me. Now yesterday, was completely different, there are 2 guys the trainers are always working with ( prospects ), I’m 6.2 ” 190lb but normal body, not extremely muscular, but not weak either, most ppl look at me and they think i work out, but am just big boned. They match me with one of this guys who’s 6.4″ 280 lb and has been boxing for years, trainer assured me , he was there to help me out and that he is mindful on controlling his punches, not to be nervous and to have fun. Usually every time i spar, the trainers always tell me to only go 75% since i do have a very heavy strong hand, so ive been working on controlling my punches and learning to snap my punches and taking it easy. So when the round starts i just go in easy, trowing jab here and there, you know thinking this guy was on the same page as me, the second he trows his first combo, i automatically see hes trowing bombs, super aggressive, caught me completely off guard, am trying to see of the trainers would say something like ( take it easy, back off ) like they usually do, but they don’t. He tags me super hard on the right side of my ribs, which obviously i show signs of being hit a bit too hard, not a word from the trainers, only thing i heard once was ( block punches ), to top it off i was using a borrowed headgear that was super loose, kept moving all over the place, so here i am trying to defend myself while trying to fix my head gear, at this point even i would back off if i see my sparring partner trying to fix his gear, instead the guy tags me again on the same spot on the ribs while my hands are up trying to fix my head gear. Imagine this guy never backed off once, after first round, couch just pretty much told me, ( its k, just take headgear off and walk it off, go hit the punching bag for a bit ). My trainer from my side hopped in the ring and continue to work with the guy i was sparring with with the pads, never once bothered coming to me asking me, you alright? Nothing. Frankly, i was upset, felt like they just wanted to give their ( Prospect ) a good warm up sparring session and i was just the moving bag for the round. Frankly, i was about to go grab a bat and smash it on the guys head and see how he likes it, i love the sport, i understand it, am there to learn and condition myself, i felt i was taken advantage off. Just wanted to share a small experience with you guys, next time ill roundhouse kick the guy on the chin and walk out of the gym, scumbags.
Sorry to hear about your experience, but if you feel the other guy is going too hard on you, you just let him know and ask him to go a bit lighter. Same if you need to adjust your gear: you ask him to stop for a moment. At the end of the day sparring is teamwork, and teamwork means communication.
Especially if you are of strong build, or not familiar to your sparring partner and he’s also a beginner, he may not be fully aware of what your comfort zone is; or maybe he wants to show off against an easy target (beginners sometimes try to do this). Either way you need to communicate. With your partner, not with the trainer who has a bunch of other people to look after and things to worry about.
Your comment about grabbing a bat, etc., is disgraceful and totally out of order.