Boxing Tip #24 - Avoiding the Power Hand
One of your biggest advantages in boxing is being able to move. You don't have to stand still and get hit. Footwork is extremely important, but even more important is knowing what to do with your footwork once you master moving around the ring.
If you move, you can move either closer to your opponent's power or away from it. Move closer and there is a good chance he is going to use it, but if you move away from it, you nullify it. He isn't able to use it. Sounds obvious, but sometimes obvious isn't so obvious - if that makes any sense.
Anyways, if you're faced off against an orthodox boxer, they are going to be jabbing you with their left hand meaning the left side of their body is going to be closer to you. They are holding their power in the rear right hand. So what do you think happens if you circle that opponent to your left?
If you answered that you give him a better chance to hit you with a straight right - give yourself a gold star. If you didn't, let's break it down for you. Imagine your opponent jabbing. If you are going to slip, you can slip inside (to the left) or outside (to the right). Slip inside and you are in prime position for your opponent to deliver a straight right and take your head off. But, if you slip right (outside), your opponent isn't going to be able to throw the straight right without repositioning himself, and better yet, you're all torqued and ready to throw a straight right of your own from the slipped position. How's that for fortunate circumstances?
Take this a step further and imagine yourself trying to get into position to unleash fury. Both you and your opponent meet in the center of the ring and start vying for position. If you are an orthodox fighter fighting and orthodox opponent, you're going to want to primarily circle to the right. If you are southpaw fighter fighting a southpaw you'll want to circle to the left. If you are an orthodox fighting a southpaw, you'll want to circle left and if you're a southpaw fighting an orthodox, circle right.
Bernard Hopkins vs Roy Jones Jr - pay attention to the direction they move around each other and what happens when they move towards and away from each other's power hands.
In the video on the right between Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr, notice how they are feeling each other out in the first minute of the video. Roy Jones is circling cautiously to the right and a bit later on you can see Hopkins circle away from Jones' power hand as well.
Keep in mind, that you never want to do the same thing all the time in a fight. If you always circle away from your opponent's strong hand, they'll eventually figure it out and do what they can to adjust. Usually it means cutting off the ring to the side you're moving, which coincidentally is what you want to do if you notice your opponent moving away from your strong hand. A quick step laterally in the direction they are circling cuts the circle and keeps them in front of you.
Circling away from the strong hand also does something else beneficial for you. It puts more distance between the strong hand and yourself meaning that if your opponent throws it, you have more time to see it coming and react.
Imagine yourself circling to the right against an orthodox fighter. They decide to throw the straight right. At that moment, you stop circling right and slip the punch to the left (or simply duck and move to the left) which lets the punch sail harmlessly by you. In this position, you have clear targets to the entire right side of your opponent's body and head and can wreak havoc with your left hook.
For orthodox fighters, moving to the right is not as natural as moving to the left. It is far easier to push off the back leg and circle left. Moving right and being able to pivot right is something that takes effort to master well. If moving to the right is something you've been neglecting, it feels rather unnatural and will remind you of how you used to feel when trying to learn to jab with your left hand. Same goes for a southpaw circling left.
To practice this, I've got two drills for you.
Drill 1: Circle the Bag
This isn't rocket science. Get in front of your heavybag and start circling in the direction you should be going. Just move around it. Jab and move, jab and move. If you have a partner, then just practice keeping a step or two to the outside of them.
Drill 2: Circle, Duck Left, and Hook
This one is a bit more fun. Like you were doing in Drill 1, circle your heavybag. I'm describing this for an orthodox vs orthodox fighter - reverse it for a southpaw on southpaw Starting with ten, move around the bag ten steps or pivots. On the tenth, imagine your opponent throwing a straight right (or left) depending on who you're fighting. As it comes, duck, take step/pivot left and throw a 3B, 3 (left hook to body then to the head). Your opponent's counterpunch will likely be a left hook of their own. Duck, step right and then continue circling for nine steps/pivots. On the ninth step, repeat the duck, left hook, duck, step right sequence. This time circle for eight steps, repeat, and so on until you get down to zero.
If you take nothing else away from this boxing tip, just understand that where you move in the ring will put in danger of being hit or keep you from being hit. If you recognize the "hot spots" where you should not step, you have a better chance of not getting hit. Intentionally positioning yourself around your opponent where it is difficult for him or her to throw power punches that will land accurately is a good strategy and something you should strive to achieve.