In the first round of a boxing match, you can usually already tell who is controlling the fight. Whoever is controlling the distance between the two fighters is dictating when the exchanges happen and when they don’t – a powerful tool for defeating an opponent.
FightCamp Trainers Tommy Duquette and Aaron Swenson explain three (3) ways to control distance and gain the upper hand, whether you are battling for a belt or just sparring with a partner. Always remember--it’s important to practice all three ways to control distance because you never know who you will be up against in the ring!
Distance Tip #1 - Use Weight Back Defense
Floyd Mayweather is a master at the weight back defense. The goal of weight back defense is to keep around 80 percent of your weight on your rear leg to give yourself a substantial amount of space to see what is coming at you. If you are too far forward, you don’t have time to react when your opponent moves to strike.
Using this weight back defense gives you two (2) options when your opponent tries to punch:
1 - Counter
Weight back defense gives you time to throw a counterpunch. For example, if your opponent comes at you with a jab - cross (1-2) combination, you can avoid the hit with a shoulder roll because you saw it coming. With their lead arm extended, they are now exposed and you can counterpunch with a body shot.
2 - Jam the Punch
With your weight on your back leg, your opponent has to really lean in to hit you. As soon as they extend their arm, instead of counterpunching, you can step forward and put your arm underneath theirs to jam the punch. From this position, you can use your forearm to create distance or use both your arms to prevent them from using theirs.
The weight back defense is underutilized but so important in a match. You can counter and jam when you want, ultimately dictating the fight.
Distance Tip #2 - Gain Outside Control
Gaining outside control is all about using movement and counterpunching. Tommy explains that when he was just beginning his career in competitive fighting, he was still afraid of getting hit. He learned this priceless tactic from watching boxer Roy Jones, Jr.
To control the fight from the outside, you basically make your opponent too scared to commit to a punch because you are always ready with a counterpunch.
Outside control looks like this:
Just as your opponent moves to strike, throw a counterpunch
Immediately after counterpunching, switch the angle of your body by pivoting on your feet
Keep switching your angles as you move around the ring, keeping your opponent trapped in the middle
One common mistake fighters make when trying to control from the outside is to back up in a straight line after their counterpunch. This is a sure way to end up on the ropes, where you don’t want to be. You can take one initial step backward, but from there take an angle as your opponent starts to pursue you. From here, you control the center of the ring.
Distance Tip #3 - Establish Inside Control
If your opponent is better at taking control on the outside, you need to adapt to gain control from the inside. Inside control is demonstrated masterfully by boxer Adrian Granados. He used this tactic when he’d spar with Aaron – which always ended up with Aaron on the ropes at Adrian’s mercy.
To get control from the inside when your opponent is dancing around you on the outside:
Move forward to cut them off
Keep them trapped there and go to work like Adrian Granados!
Remember, even if you are more skilled at controlling from the outside you may encounter an opponent that is even better. You must know all the different ways to control distance so you’re ready for anything in the ring.
Practice Controlling Distance
You can practice controlling distance with or without a partner. Whenever you are shadowboxing or practicing on the heavy bag, always imagine yourself in realistic match scenarios and visualize a fight. Use all three methods – constantly taking angles, moving, and trapping your opponent to build muscle memory.
Even if you're not looking to compete in boxing, you can still learn about boxing and kickboxing strategy, which will ultimately help you become a better fighter. At FightCamp, we offer you the very best at-home boxing and kickboxing training experience. For more boxing training tips from professional fighters, check out FightCamp’s library of workouts and tutorials designed for boxers of all levels.
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