Outside Fighter, Slugger, Swarmer, Boxer-Puncher: The Basic Boxing Styles
A boxing style is a general gameplan that you follow when you fight, regardless of any opponent-specific adjustments you make. While there is a lot of nuance to each fighting style, the very basics can be summed up in four (4) archetypes:
In the sport, an outside fighter is a fighter who uses a lot of angles, lateral movement, and long, straight punches paired with excellent defenses to embody the cardinal rule of boxing: Hit and don’t get hit. Famous examples of outside fighters include Guillermo Rigondeaux and Floyd Mayweather.
A slugger is a fighter who is characterized by a very powerful punch but slow feet. Not usually one to throw boxing punch combinations, their gameplan revolves around capitalizing on their opponent’s mistakes with a few well-placed, devastating shots, then winning trades with their power. Famous examples of sluggers include George Foreman and Sonny Liston.
A swarmer has fast hands, fast feet, and usually a granite chin. Their plan is to get in on their opponent and stick to them like glue, wearing them down with an immense volume of fire and overwhelming them with dynamic punching patterns. Famous swarmers include Julio César Chávez, Sr. and Roberto Duran.
A boxer-puncher is a consummate athlete: fast, strong, and with the fundamentals to back it up. Their style functions as a sort of “everyman”: they can box, though they aren’t as slick as an outboxer. They can throw punch combinations, though they aren’t as high-volume as a swarmer. They can crack, though they don’t have the same thudding power as a slugger. This “Jack-of-all-Trades” style means that they have a deep toolbox to use to adapt to a variety of situations, and allows them to counter just about any opponent with the right adjustment. Famous boxer-punchers include Marvin Hagler and Canelo Alvarez.
While there are many small, nuanced factors and substyles of boxers to consider, these four are the very basic styles. Now let’s take a look at my boxing style, which is a form of outboxing, and how I developed it.
My Boxing Style: The Outside Fighter
My style largely formed because of three (3) factors: I’m tall, I’m lanky, and I’m left-handed. For these reasons, being up close against a shorter, right-handed fighter is an absolute nightmare for me. As a result, my style formed around using the jab and changing up my punching angles to stay on the outside of the ring so that I could set up my powerful left hand, and use my left uppercut to punish any sloppy step in my opponents’ attempts. Whenever boxers step into the ring, it’s important that they have some sort of a plan. Although you can’t predict exactly what will happen against an opponent, with proper training and preparation, you can be at your best.
Here are the core tenets of my general gameplan:
Establish Jab Control
In any left/right matchup, establishing jab control is important, but especially if you are trying to outbox your opponent. Using the jab correctly allows you to dictate engagement distance as well as keep your opponent’s rhythm disjointed and fractured by occasionally jabbing on the half beat (as they move their front foot), rather than on the full beat (when they move their back foot).
In order to encourage a skilled opponent to make mistakes, you have to create a reason for them to feel the need to make a risky move. I do this by focusing almost entirely on defense and lateral movement in the opening 30 seconds of each round, trying to plant that seed of doubt in their ability to hit me. Then, I spend the rest of the round picking off their attempts to get inside from range. This is especially useful against other boxers, who tend to have good defense and fight more cautiously, as it can cause them to forget their gameplan.
Check and Pivot
“Check and Pivot” is a phrase that means to stop or punish advancement with a punch, usually either a lead hook (in this instance called a “check hook”) or a jab (the safer option), and then using a pivot to turn to the outside and reset the angle so that your opponent has to turn to face you again, giving you an advantage when punching. This is effective against swarmers, as you can often check, turn, and fire a strong straight shot that will catch them turning with momentum to follow you.
Feint and Counter
Another common trick I use is to condition an opponent to expect a certain attack, for instance, the check hook we just discussed. Then, when I think they are going to counter it, I feint the move, wait half a step, and punish their reaction. This is very effective against sluggers, whose gameplan of waiting for a big shot makes them especially susceptible to feints.
Falling With Style
The key aspect of my boxing style is controlling my momentum. I often use the momentum I gain from punches to turn, and actively use my bodyweight as a lever to essentially “fall” towards my destination. Then I use my balance and footwork to quickly solidify my new position so I can continue punching before my opponent can reposition themselves effectively.
Learning to Break the Rules
One of the most important pieces of advice I have ever been given for boxing is this: Don’t worry about style until you understand the basics. A fighter with solid fundamentals will always, always beat a fighter who tries to focus on advanced techniques before they’re ready. There’s no value in bending rules that you do not know in the first place. The best way to learn the basics is to work at them every day, and that is a lot easier when you have a community behind you like FightCamp.
As a competitor in an era where going to the gym was not an option for large swathes of time, I quickly learned how helpful online content is for staying sharp and continuing to learn. FightCamp offers countless YouTube videos with at-home workouts and training tips, blog articles that break down boxing concepts, and a team of professional trainers to motivate and push you to work hard and train, even on days when you can’t make it to the gym.
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