Your latest boxing questions about the southpaw left hook, boxing rhythm, body punching, amateur competition, boxing stance, fighting through injuries, and more.
1. I tend to get nervous and overly defensive. When I’m getting picked apart, I lean too far back and run away. What can I do? – AB
Hey Im 5’10 185-190. I fight southpaw even though Im right hand doninant but I see better out of my left eye. I can fight both ways but Im more comfortable southie. I tend to get nervous and either cover up and get picked apart or I lean too far back and run away. I need help with combos and defensive strategies! Any suggestions?
- Your problem doesn’t seem to be a lack of combos or defensive strategies. Your sparring pace is too fast for you. Slow it down for 2 weeks so that you can see everything.
2. Hey Johnny, can you give me some tips on sparring? – Austin
I use a style similar to Joe Frazier’s and Jack Dempsey’s, if it’s any help. Should I break into a Dempsey Roll/ bob and weave as soon as my opponent approaches?
- This is a tough question because I don’t know what boxing style your opponent uses, and I haven’t seen what you can and can’t do. You should break into the Dempsey Roll if your opponent is overly aggressive and stands right in front of you when he attacks. If your opponent uses constant in & out movement, then the Dempsey Roll will not work at all. If you to fight a forward-style, I suggest you study footage of intelligent stalkers like Miguel Cotto, Kostya Tszyu, Bernard Hopkins.
3. About how long does it take on average for someone to be ready to fight in the amateurs? – Jakob
- The going average is 3 months minimum especially if it’s your first fight. If you have a good trainer who attends tournaments regularly, he will let you know when you’re ready. If you’re not super athletic or do not pick things up quickly, I would recommend taking 6 months. You can tell you’re ready when you’re no longer nervous about sparring other competing amateurs in your boxing gym.
4. Can a 15 year old boy like me become a top fighter if I train 3-5 hours every day? – John
Hi, I just started boxing and I just want to ask if it is possible for a 15 year old boy like me to become a top fighter or even a professional one day if I train 3-5 hours everyday? Are there any famous and skillful boxers who started later than me? Advice and tips would be nice. Thanks.
- There are many professional boxers that started around your age or later. Off the top of my head, I can name Bernard Hopkins, Sergio Martinez, Nate Campbell, Joe Calzaghe, I’m sure there are many more. 15 years old is not too late than all. 3-5 hours a day is a good start. Stay calm, be relaxed, and don’t fall in love with your power. Learn something new in every sparring session and learn all types of styles but use the ones you like best.
5. How do you land a left hook as a southpaw? – Chris
As a southpaw i find it very tough to set up an opponent for an left hook. I literally feel off balance and open for an counter right. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
- Don’t throw it too wide. Just throw it like a left cross but with an arc. Try throwing the left hook as a counter so you don’t feel open. Bait your orthodox opponent’s right hand, and then throw your left hook over it (like Manny Pacquiao) or under it (like Lucian Bute).
- If you’re throwing it as a counter, try holding your head a little closer and to the right, then pull your head out as you throw that left hook in. If you want to use the left hook in a combo, just mix it in with the straights. Try throwing it as a counter over your opponent’s straight right.
6. One more question. In your opinion what is the greatest tip you can give a boxer other than working hard? – Eduardo
- Make sure you have fun. The moment something gets too painful or too boring, you run the risk of losing motivation or over-training yourself. Don’t burn yourself out, keep things fresh and fun so you can box with more passion. It’s very hard to be successful for a long time when you train like it’s work and your opponent is training like a kid in a candy store.
7. Do you need a trainer to sign up for an amateur contest? – Laura
And if not, where in Wisconsin can you sign up? I’ve been looking everywhere and have no clue.
- You do need a registered amateur boxing trainer. I found 2 links for you with information on amateur boxing events and local boxing gyms in Wisconsin. I’m sure they may be more information out there if you search around your city. You just have to find a gym with amateur boxing trainers. Make sure they actually have competing fighters. Check out their boxers while they workout and spar and see if you like it. Your trainer will know all the amateur events coming up. There’s always something every month and the big tournaments are usually in the summer.
8. Can I box with genu valgum? (opposite of bow-legged) – Daniel
I have genu valgum legs. Can I do boxing? What is the best stance for people that have genu valgum problem? Are there any professional boxers with genu valgum? Can I do squats? Thanks Johnny, you’re the best.
- I think only a licensed medical expert can tell you what you’re limitations are. I don’t know what safety issues or medical risks come with genu valgum, so you should get a medical and be cleared by the doctor. As long as you can attack and defend, I don’t see why you can’t box. As for stance and everything, I would have to tell you to stand in whatever way is most comfortable.
9. What are some heavy bag exercises I can do? – John
- Well there’s the usual heavy bag drill where you just bang the bag however you want. There’s also an accuracy drill where you put little squares of duct tape randomly around the bag. This gives your eyes something to look at and improve your aim. You can also do tabata drills where you do fast punching for 15 seconds, rest 15 seconds, and repeat. You usually have a partner switching off with you when you do this.
10. How can I stop jumping when I do shadow boxing and during sparring sessions? – Mark
- Most people jump because they are overly aggressive or have bad stance. If you’re being over aggressive, you have to calm yourself down. In the gym, your job is to learn how to box, not to show off your fighting spirit. Save your aggression for the competition–you’ll need all of it.
- Many guys also have to jump around because their stance is so bad that they can’t move swiftly, and so they resort to jumping to get around quicker. Try working on the heavy bag and limiting yourself to only stepping and not jump around the bag. If you force yourself to step without jumping, your feet will naturally find the stance that allows you to step better (instead of jump better).
- Generally a good stance is not too wide, not too narrow, feet angling off to the side and not straight forwards, weight distributed evenly across both feet. From what I’ve seen, most people are leaning too far forward or too far backwards and they don’t realize it.
11. I was wondering how to perfect my balance. Can u help me? – David
- Here’s a good link to getting a basic understanding of a good boxing stance – The Perfect Boxing Stance
- As for perfecting your stance, just do a lot of shadowboxing and moving around. Focus on balance, sharp movement, relaxed movement, and try not to jump. Do it a lot and you’ll find the best stance for you.
12. How do you throw a jab-cross? – Orly
- I had a basic guide to this here written over a year ago: How to Throw a One-Two Punch Combination
- I’ll be looking to expand on it later and add more technical details.
13. How do you win in exchanges? – Mark
I would imagine its very hard to see punches from the side when your close to your opponent and your both swinging.
- When I’m exchanging punches, my body simply responds naturally. I have some idea of what punches and combos I want to throw, but for the most part, my trained reflexes take over and I punch and defend automatically (without thinking about it).
- When I first started boxing, my trainer use to tell me: “throw 4-5 punches anytime you’re in range”. That was it. Then as I got better, he would say, “step out after you finish a combo”. Then as I got even better, he would add, “always throw 2-3 weak tester shots to bait his counter, then step back, THEN attack with 4-5 punches, then step out after you finish”.
- This sequence got longer as I got better and I do all of it automatically. I don’t have to worry about “seeing punches” because I’m not looking for them. I’m simply coming to fight and looking for my opponents openings…and I let my trained reflexes do the rest.
14. Where does the jab get its power? – Jeni
I just started boxing, and I can’t seem to “feel” where the power behind the jab yet comes from yet. The straight right, hook, uppercut all have some kind of grounded torque that feels natural and powerful. By contrast, my jab is awkward I have a tendency to want to swing my elbow up in order to get some power. Where do I generate power from, for my jab? My shoulder? Back? Help!!!
- Excellent question, Jeni! I wish more boxers would ask me that because I see so many improperly loaded jabs. Most boxers throw with a loaded shoulder or rotate the upper body too much but that only wastes energy or telegraphs the punch.
- The right way to add power to your jab is to just drop your hips slightly when you jab. You add power by relaxing your hip muscles and upper legs for just a split second. You can take a very small step forward to add some push to your jab and get into range. As for your jabbing arm, don’t focus on pushing your glove out, just try to straighten that arm as you drop your hip. (Not TOO straight because you might hyper-extend your elbow.) You want to imagine your arm transforming into a spear and stabbing him.
15. How do you land the southpaw left hook to the body of an orthodox fighter? – John
I just have a question…I am a southpaw and I would like some tips on landing the left hook to the body on an orthodox fighter? Or any countering tips to land the left hook to the body? There is always tips for southpaws on landing the right hook to the body but not many tips on landing the left hook the body…a left hook to the body on an orthodox fighter would be on his right side which is also where the liver is located! So this coud be a potentially devastating punch! So, any advice on that left hook to the body Johnny?? Would definitely appreciate it!! Keep up the great work on your site!! Looking forward to reading your reply, thanks!
- Landing the left hand to the body isn’t that hard. For me it works better as a straight left than a left hook. You don’t always have to aim for the pit of the stomach, you can aim straight at the side on the ribs under the armpit. You also have to mix in shots to the head and body. What you can do is put one to the head, pull your head back to slip your opponent’s counter right, then come in with one to the body. Or you can also do the reverse, throw it to the body (even if he blocks it), pull your head back to slip the counter right, then come back in with to the head or body. Manny Pacquiao does this a lot.
- The left hook to the liver almost always has to be thrown as a counter because you want him to reach forward with his right hand which brings his liver closer to you. You don’t have to hook, you can punch straight at it.
- One of my favorite things to do is to throw it as you step your front foot behind his front foot. As you’re running up his back side, he’ll concentrate his defense to his left, which means you can throw a really wide left hook to the body that will catch him off guard. Follow it up with another one to the head, or throw a right hook first and then another left.
- Watch Lucian Bute. Watch how he digs that left to the body. He sets it up by leaning on the inside to bait his opponent’s right hand. Then he leans out and swings the left hand underneath on the inside.
- Another great fighter to watch is Floyd Mayweather when he fights southpaws. I know Floyd isn’t a southpaw but you can reverse his technique. Watch his timing when he throws the right hook to the body against southpaws.
16. What is the best way to build lean muscle? – Anthony
- Calisthenics, body weight exercises, and eating well. Muscle built from high repetitions is usually very lean muscle.
17. I have long arms. What muscles should I strengthen so they won’t tire out quickly? – Anthony
- The shoulders. Work the shoulders. Have drills where you throw lots of HIGH punches non-stop on the heavy bag. Do lots of speedbag work. Most important of all, learn to relax your arms when you throw punches. Learn how to throw many jabs without wearing out the arm. Relax that shot, put a stiff jab here and there but don’t overload that jab arm. Use good timing and sharpness to add power, not muscle effort.
18. Why don’t you write something about body punching in boxing? – Carpenter
It’s the only thing you’ve missed. And I’ve got something to add to your examples on the drowning style. Charley Burley. Look up Charley Burley analysing genius on youtube.
- There are some body punching guides on the way. I explain how to get inside, how to set up the shots without getting caught on the head, how to force the shots in at close range. I love the Charley Burley video. A friend showed it to me a long time ago and fortunately, many of those principles are still in use today. Hang out just a little longer, I’ve got great stuff coming for you.
19. Do the lateral muscles help give you punch power? – Anthony
- YES! Big time! You can even see for yourself. Put one hand on your lateral muscle as you throw a punch. You should feel the muscle contract sharply. The lateral muscle is much bigger than the shoulder muscle and probably contributes more power to your punch than the shoulder muscle. On a side note, have you seen how big Bruce Lee’s lateral muscles are?
20. Can you explain what rhythm is in boxing? How important is it? – Daniel
- Rhythm is the beat of your fighting movements. Every fighter has their own unique movement. Some guys have a 3-beat rhythm, this means they always move in 3 beats. Maybe this means 3 punch combos, or 2 punches with a defensive movement at the end. Or maybe they slip in 3-movements at a time. Some other fighters love to throw a potshot, pause, and then a 4 punch combo. Like a big jab, step back, and then come in with 4 punches. Some fighters have a consistent punching rhythm whereas others walk around a lot before they throw a combination.Every fighter has their own rhythm.
- The reason why it’s important to have your own rhythm is so that you have some kind of efficiency. Your body and mind has a natural rhythm that it likes to attack or defend at. Perhaps you like to do 2 movements, pause, and then another 2. Or maybe you have a non-stop steady rhythm. If you fight with no rhythm, or you fight to someone else’s rhythm, you will get tired trying to keep up with someone else’s pace. When you fight at your pace, you last longer and perform better.
- Think of rhythm as like sleeping. Some people sleep more hours while others sleep less. Some need little naps to get through the day while others don’t. And if you don’t get as much sleep as you need, you feel weird or tired.