Boxing is a sport about range and distance, and the ability to close the distance between you and your opponent when you need to is vital in a boxing match. But how do you step in without getting hit with counterpunches and ranging jabs? How do you actually cut off the ring so that your opponent has to face you at your range instead of backing off? Here, we’ll answer those questions for you with some of the tricks that I use to safely close distance in boxing matches.
Step Behind The Jab
This is the classic infighting advice, and it exists for a reason. Ideally, you should be stepping into range already throwing a jab, keeping your shoulder high to protect your chin. The reason for this is that by making contact with your opponent, even if it's only his guard, you have an instant lock on his distance, and more importantly, you will be able to feel if he shifts his guard to throw a punch back, which will allow you to get out of the way.
Front Foot Defense
Front foot defense is the concept of avoiding punches while being the aggressor, and it is more of a philosophy than a single boxing technique. The idea here is that when you are the aggressor and you are stepping in, it is important to be both attacking and defending at the same time. For example, when you throw a jab while stepping in, it's a good idea to slip as well. This gets your head off of the center line and loads up the side you slipped to for a more powerful punch (usually either a body shot or, in my case, a leaping hook – but uppercuts and straight punches work great, too).
Cutting Off The Ring
Cutting off the ring is essential to closing the distance against rangy and slick boxer types. While it's an incredibly complex concept, the main point is to mirror the movement of the outside fighter. If they move left, you follow. If they step back, you step forward. The important thing here is patience: if you try to bull rush a boxer, they will pivot and rip you apart from range all night like a matador. Keep your jab pumping, always punch with them (if they attack, always attack back), and steadily walk them down. Once they’re on the ropes or the corner, that’s your chance to let loose.
Stepping in and taking the fight to your opponent is one of the most important aspects of boxing, and it's crucial to be able to do so without getting battered in the process. You have to be patient, dynamic and controlled to be the effective aggressor by pumping your jab, constantly moving your head, and slowly shrinking the distance your opponent has to run away.
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