Boxing Mailbag 4-19-11

April 19, 2011 April 19, 2011 by Johnny N Boxing Basics, Boxing Mailbag 6 Comments

I answer your latest boxing questions about building speed, fighting shorter fighters, illegal tactics, punch resistance, footwork, ideal fighting weight, concentration, and more.



1. What do you think I need to do to get speed? – Marcelino

I’m going to have a fight this weekend but I dont have any speed.

  • Building hand speed in one week is pretty hard if not impossible. I would suggest stretching as much as possible ASAP and doing a lot of relaxed shadowboxing. Try to increase the speed of your shadowboxing will staying relaxed. I wrote 2 helpful guides on building hand speed.
  • Please take a look:
  • How to Punch Faster
  • Hand Speed Drills and Exercises



Boxing Mailbag 4-19-112. How do I fight an opponent that bobs and weaves a lot? – Christian

How do I fight an opponent who is good at bobbing and weaving, a strict in-fighter and throws fast punch combinations?

  • Try to fake him and land a hard counter. Or come inside at him and tear him up with some uppercuts. If he really likes to lean forward a lot. Keep throwing a lot of slap hooks with your left hand as you pivot around him like a matador. Let him get closer and lean over his head with your upperbody if you can.
  • What problems are you having exactly? If your punches are missing, aim some at his body where it’s easier to land. Even if he blocks it, then throw the next ones at his head. If you’re running out of gas, then maybe you should try to improve your conditioning.



3. How do you build resistance to a knockout punch? – Liam

  • Strengthen the neck muscles, learn to roll punches, spar at a slower speed so you learn where punches typically come from and what punches to expect during exchanges. Aside from that, apply the usual common sense–keep your hands up and chin down. Don’t lean forward and protect yourself especially when you’re punching. Use your eyes and pay attention to oncoming punches so you don’t get hit by punches you don’t see–those do the most damage.



4. How do I throw power punches without losing balance? – Don

When I throw the left hook and right hook, the traditional shifting of the feet in order to generate power and maintain balance is not enough, I am slightly thrown off each time. I can generate a tremendous amount of power, but thats why it disturbs my equilibrium. I have modified it so for instance, for the left hook, I torque the left foot to generate power, and then I shoot the right foot out a little over six inches at 45 degrees to essentially catch my body weight as i transition through the strike. Is this sufficient? Any suggestions. These are in relation to committed strikes.

  • Shifting the right foot over is absolutely not necessary. In fact, it may cause you to lose balance or decrease power off the punch.
  • The problem is that you’re shifting your weight too far. When you throw a punch, shift your whole body weight but only a few inches. Another tip is to drop your body weight when you punch. You can move your feet forward, but drop your body weight down towards the ground. This way when you’re done throwing that power punch, your body weight doesn’t have too much forward momentum.
  • If you’re find yourself being thrown off balance from power-punching, you need to spend less time on the heavy bag and more time doing shadowboxing. The heavy bag allows you to overswing when you punch off-balanced and it catches you so you don’t realize you’re over-swinging. Shadowboxing forces you to balance yourself. So do more shadowboxing and throw all those hard punches at the air and not at the bag.


5. What is the purpose of punch mitts? – Chris

I probably know the answer to the mitts but i want to hear it from someone else. What is the purpose of the mitts and how can I make the best out of it. I see Floyd Mayweather Jr use a lot of combos with the mitts but I barely see him use most of it in the ring. 

  • The punch mitts help you build fluidity in your boxing skills as you shift from offensive to defensive in the boxing ring. Your trainer will drill you and mimic real situations in the fight where you drill proper punches, counter-punches, and defensive movements into habit. It’s as close to sparring as you can get in boxing training. You’ll build accuracy, footwork, sharp movements, and raise your overall awareness. It’s a great chance for you to drill and test the techniques you learned before you step into the ring.
  • As for Floyd Mayweather working the mitts, it’s a rhythm, combination drill, and workout all in one. He doesn’t throw that many punches because he doesn’t need to, but at least the muscle memory is there when he needs it.



6. Can you suggest some punching combinations for my first fight? – Sai

Hi Johnny, I have a fight and it is my first fight can you list some punching combinations and some tricks.

  • I only have one trick for you. Jab to the body, right hand to the head. Jab to the head, right hand to the body. You’ll shock him for sure, follow it up with 1-2-3.
  • And here are some good combos to try:
  • 1-1
  • 1-2
  • 1-2-3
  • 1-2-1-6
  • 1-2-3-2-1
  • 1-2-1-2-3



7. How can I build endurance for a fight? – Niall



8. What does Lennox Lewis mean by a coiling jab? – Ahmad

In the attached link, Lennox tells Eubank to avoid stepping in to the jab. They come to the conclusion that he should “coil” into it. Upon doing so Eubank hits what looks more like a hook. Nonetheless, what is meant by “coiling in”. I think he rotates his body and drops his level before the punch to gain leverage…is that all there is to it?

  • It’s exactly as you said. The arm and body is compacted like a snake before a strike. When the timing is right, the strike is released.



9. What’s the importance of judging distance both defensively and offensively? – Kavon

  • The ability to judge distance allows you to attack from away without being any closer to harm (your opponent’s fists) than you need to be. Distance determines when you are safe and when your weapons are effective. Without proper knowledge of distance, you will expend more energy than you need to get within range, and take more punishment than you needed to expose yourself to.


10. How to be an aggressive tall boxer? – Sibtul

  • Emulate Paul Williams and Thomas Hearns. Learn the drowning boxing style. Throw 3-4-5 jabs. Keep invading their ground. Build your footwork so you can move with the guy and keep him in front of you all day long. Aim at their body. Your long arms should allow you to aim at the body without being too worried of retaliation. Throw some lead uppercuts to the head and body.


11. How do I hit a guy who keeps moving out of the way? – Sibtul

Yesterday I was sparring with a guy that just wouldn’t be there when I threw a punch. I doubled the jab—even threw it 5x at one point but it never got me anywhere! What should I have done? By the way, he was shorter and quicker.

  • Don’t aim for his head so much. Aim for the shoulders or chest. Start from there. As you begin to learn his rhythm while slowing him down by forcing him to block those chest punches, you will be able to touch him more and more.


12. What leg did Felix Trinidad put most of his weight on? – Sibtul

  • I studied this footage right here: Felix Trinidad Highlights
  • It appears to be that Felix Trinidad stands with 60% of his weight on his front leg and 40% on his back leg. You can tell because his left hook is always loaded. You will notice that his front step is not slick at all. He kind of hobbles or walks towards his opponents. He doesn’t slide in with slick movement, he always has a little bounce around the ring–which is common for boxers that aren’t standing with perfectly balanced weight.


13. Isn’t using your shoulders, elbows, and forearms to push your opponent illegal? – Gordon

There seems to be so much you can do in boxing besides the usual punching, blocking, parry, etc. In some of your tips, you talk about using your arm to lean on your opponent. There’s also the Mayweather tricks. And I recall a friend telling me about using your elbows and shoulders to get your opponent off balance or open up targets. Would you call this dirty boxing? Is this illegal? Would this be one of the tricks you said not to focus on? If not maybe you could write an article on it!

  • I will definitely be writing an article on “dirty boxing tricks” and illegal moves.
  • It’s important for everyone to learn to understand the technique as well as be able to protect themselves from the technique. It’s a disadvantage when your opponent knows and uses more moves than you. At the very least, you should even things up and know all the same moves he knows even if you do not use them. Using forearms or pulling down the head can be dirty, but I don’t think it’s cheating when you’re using them against a guy who’s trying to come in at you with a headbutt. There’s a very grey line of ethics in boxing competition.


14. What kind of punching bags (heavy bags) should I buy? – Janis

Hi. Could you please advise about heavy punching bags? – I’have been using some, but they are breaking (the leather or fake leather) breaks. I’m not Iron Mike :). – I just want to get really tough, durable and heavy bag. Thank you very much. Janis

  • Heavy bags should last for a while, even the crappy ones. Hopefully you’re are not exposing them to direct sun? If they are, perhaps you can put a heavy bag covering around them to protect the layer that you punch. The best thing I would recommend for you to is to visit a boxing gym and see what they use and then just ask them where they bought them. Depending on where you are located, brands and quality will vary so I can’t recommend any specific brand.

15. What are 10 Winky Wright boxing tricks? – Javier

  • I studied some footage and in the 5 minutes and I did see one cool tactic: chopping overhand right cross from his southpaw stance. Winky loves to throw it as he dips his head down. It kind of looks like a right hook but it’s not. It goes forward and it chops down, not to the side which throws many of his opponents off.


16. My height is 1m70 (5.7″) and 90 kg (198 lbs). What boxing style should I use? – Kevin

I began boxing 2 years ago and I love it but have a difficult time to find my style. My height is 1m70 for 90 kg and I move pretty well inside the ring. The question is what style I should have for boxing? I love Mike Tyson for his head movement and power.

  • That is a very tough size for boxing. I would study John Brown’s boxing style. He’s not the greatest but he’s been in with many great fighters and found a way to stay competitive despite his shorter size and reach. Yes, you can study Mike Tyson, too. Learn how shorter fighters like Mike Tyson, Ivan Calderon, Miguel Cotto close ground against taller opponents. At this point, I would suggest that you use whatever style feels best and work hard to develop it yourself. Later on, we will figure out how to make that style win.



17. How do you improve a fighter’s ability to concentrate? – Gianni

I understand that mental attitude is at least 70-80% of a boxer’s performance. How do you overcome the anxiety and manage stress?

  • After training in so many sports as I have. I noticed that the reason why athletes have such a hard time concentrating is not because they aren’t focused on concentrating hard enough. It’s because they worry about too many things. They worry about not winning or about not performing at their best. They worry about whether or not their training has been good enough. Or perhaps they worry about not being able to remember all the techniques they learned.
  • I would suggest teaching boxers to worry only about what matters most and discard the rest. Do you love boxing? Do you love fighting? Are you in good shape? Can you provide a good performance? Are you prepared to do what’s most important? Keep it simple. Cut out what is unnecessary and the mind will concentrate and overcome easily. It’s very easy to stress when you have so many things to worry about. It is not the boxer’s job to see if he is good enough to win, it is his job to see that he can perform at his best.



18. How do I deal with shin splints? – J

Every time I run, I get extreme pain in my legs and the doctor has confirmed that it is shin splints but has yet offered no help on the matter. Is this an after-effect of my weight that will vanish when I’m within a healthier range? I’ve researched into this on my own and am fairly sure my running form isn’t to blame.

  • Shin splints can be from bad running form (heels striking the ground), bad running surface (concrete), bad running equipment (bad shoes that cause your feet to strike the ground at unnatural angle), or over-training (no more than 10-15% distance increase per week). If you are suffering shin splints, you must be doing one of more of the above incorrectly.



19. Should I incorporate dumbbells into my exercising in any way? – J

I would be looking at trying to steer clear of isolation exercises being a foundation and continue developing my body as a whole.

  • I’m a big fan of using light-weight dumbbells anywhere from 1-5lbs to build support muscles around the shoulders. Barbells are also good for curling and shoulder work.



20. Where can I find a masters boxing tournament? – Jan

I’m over 34 so I can’t compete in Golden Gloves, but I heard that there is a Masters Boxing Tournament. If there is and if you can direct me to a site to learn more about it, I’d really appreciate it.

  • There are definitely Masters Boxing events and tournaments. You will have to check with the USA Boxing representative in your local area. You can look up your local representative at the USA boxing website or ask your boxing trainer to do it for you. There may be other local boxing events that are not sanctioned by USA Boxing that are in your area. Again, you have to ask local coaches and they will direct you to the nearest one. If there isn’t, you can always fight in some charity event, there’s always a ton of those.



21. Do you have any drills for the double-end bag and the maize ball? – John

  • Double-end bag and maize ball. Coming soon! I honestly NEVER use the maize ball so I don’t have anything for that. I will ask for help from other boxers in the gym and share the ones I like best on the website. As for the double-end bag, I do just the simple basic drills but I’ll ask for a few more before sharing them on the site.
  • In the meanwhile, I would suggest hitting the double-end bag with this drill. Left-left-right, then step around in any direction, then right-right-left. You can throw any punch as long as it fits that pattern. The important thing is to throw the first two without wasting too much time trying to aim. You focus only on aiming the 3rd shot. The first two are just to stay busy and keep your opponent (the bag) moving and thinking. Do not stand and wait around trying time the bag, just throw out those punches. Yes, it’s that simple. But very effective.



22. How does a boxer figure out his ideal fighting weight? – Josh

Any advice on how a boxer should work out what weight is ideal for him to fight at? For most of us, it’s not hard to go up or down weight divisions with only minor changes to diet and training, even without cutting water. But how to know what weight class is ideal?

  • Most trainers will tell you to fight at the lowest weight you can cut your body weight down to. Whatever your weight would be at 10% body fat or less, that’s the weight you want to fight at. If you punch hard, or can take hard punches, or are very tall, then MAYBE you can compete at a heavier weight class. The best way to find out is to just spar with other fighters in your gym. It won’t be long before you figure what weight you can compete at. Fighting at the lowest weight possible would give you the best fighting chance, of course (assuming you’re not starving, dehydrated, or weakened from making weight).



23. Isn’t Floyd Mayweather’s use of forearms illegal in boxing? – Lou

I was delighted to see you highlight this tactic of Floyd’s on your site. As a former N.Y. Golden Glove Champ and someone who has been around this sport all my life, I question the legality of this tactic. I know the bottom line is that if the ref doesn’t warn or penalize him for this then it might as well be legal for that matter. But is it technically legal? I have seen some refs stop the action and warn Floyd for this. Afterward he would give it a rest but go right back to using the forearm crush again to no further objection of the ref. I recall Ali pulling down the heads of his opponents over and over again. With Frasier, I think this tactic may have been the difference in at least one of the fights won by Ali. Refs, being in Ali’s corner for most of his career, allowed Ali to get away with head pulling and he used it against shorter opponents effectively.

In my opinion, it is this move that puts Floyd so far ahead of his previous opponents. Not to take credit away from his tremendous skill and athletic ability, but let’s face it, if he can’t use the forearm crush, he is taking a lot more punches and who knows how he would react to that. If I were his opponent, I would do the same thing back to him tenfold and wait for the ref to penalize me. Once that happens, it puts pressure on the ref to do the same to Floyd for the same thing. Bottom line, its a beautiful and effective move, but I don’t see it as a legal one. Your Thoughts?

  • I don’t think the move is legal at all. I do remember the ref warning Floyd once in the match against Ricky Hatton. But by then, the damage had been done and Hatton had already been tired for many rounds bythat tactic. From a boxing and sportsmanship perspective, it’s cheap and dirty and doesn’t promote aggressive nor skillful display of boxing. The grey area is where Floyd decides to use it. I noticed that many illegal moves are allowed when they are used defensively. Pulling down your opponent’s head to stop the punishment is ok. Pulling down the opponent’s head so that you can land an uppercut is definitely a no-no. Likewise, headbutts and lowblows are highly illegal but defensive clinching appears to be tolerated. From an athletic perspective, I don’t see how the forearm is more damaging than clinching. Floyd has fought for a long time on the amateur circuit and certainly knows how to fight on the edge of the rules.



24. Is 16 the right age to start boxing or should I have started earlier? – Abdul

Hello bro, I’m 16 year old boy from Kashmir valley. I wanna say that I have got a little knowlage about boxing and no experience at all. I wish to take Boxing professionally do you this is right age to start or should I’ve done basics before?

  • 16 years old is not too late to start boxing. If you are passionate about it, work hard, and have people who can help you build the skills and experience needed to be successful – you have a chance. Miracles do happen.



25. Is 5’8″ too short to fight at the 165 weight class? – Mike

I am 5’8 and was considering fighting at the 165 weight class because 152 might be too much of a cut for me. Do you think I am to short to be fighting at the weight class? I feel like most of the fighters are much taller than me from the few fights i have seen.

  • 5’8″ is short for 165 weight class. I’ve seen it at the amateur level for sure. But at the higher level amateurs and in the pro’s, 165 basically means you’ll be fighting guys around 6 feet. If you got insane movement and athleticism to make up for the disadvantage in size and reach, go ahead. If you don’t, find a way to make 152. Professionals face this dilemma regularly, but they do it with the assistance of nutritionists and strength coaches. If you’re not from an overly competitive boxing area, you might be ok in the 165 weight class.



26. How do you move back and forth without loosing balance? – Prince Saroo

My problem is that I lose my balance as I move in. Can you do an article of how to move like Manny Pacquiao? I want to know how he moves back and forth while punching without losing balance.

  • I wish more people would ask this question! Stand with your weight more evenly distributed between your legs. Lower your center-of-gravity when you need to move with power. Last but not least, it’s much easier to stay in balance when you take smaller steps. Find a way to get just outside your opponent’s range so you only have to move 3 inches to get into punching range. This is better than lunging from 1 foot out of range. You will have more power, more speed while using less energy and putting yourself at less risk to being countered!
  • Yes, this balanced footwork article is coming soon!
boxing ebook Advanced Boxing Techniques 30 Day Fighter's Diet Advanced Boxing Footwork Drills
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Pete April 19, 2011 at 7:52 am

This is amazing…keep up the good work


Niall April 19, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Always look forward to getting a email in my inbox telling me there’s a new article out. Just keep up thee amazing work as ever.


Billy May 16, 2011 at 1:12 am

Masters Division (Over 34)
Ringside holds a annaul amateur tournament called Ringside World Championship. They have a very large pool of master divion boxers competing. It is coming up this August 2011. Information should be on their website.

Also check out for all information regarding master divison boxing…and don’t be turned away from the very master looking boxer on their homepage.


Johnny N May 16, 2011 at 11:50 am

Awesome resource! Thank you, Billy.


Dan February 23, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Hi Johnny,
I,ve recently purchased your how to box, and advanced boxing tips, they are top class, and have helped me as a trainer big time. Thanks.
Can you tell which direction 2 orthodox boxers should circle each other in general boxing. Look forward to your reply
Regards Dan


Johnny N February 26, 2013 at 9:58 am

It’s generally easier to circle clockwise but some trainers say it’s dangerous to circle towards your opponent’s strong right hand. Throughout a fight, you’ll definitely circle both ways so it’s recommended to practice both.

On a side note: could I get a testimonial from you for the ebooks? I’d definitely like some feedback for that. Thank you for your support!


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