How to Cut Off the Ring

July 1, 2013 July 1, 2013 by Johnny N Boxing Offense, Boxing Strategy 19 Comments

How to Cut Off the Ring

Speedy boxers and defensive fighters are frustrating if not impossible to chase down.

The faster you run, the faster they run away! They never sit still for you to hit and they always seem to squeeze out of the corners. Worst of all, some opponents are even landing punches on you as they’re running away!

The answer is to cut off the ring. Your opponent won’t have anywhere to run to if you know how to cut off his space.


*** Watch my video for a live demonstration of me cornering an imaginary opponent.


1. DON’T CHASE (common mistake)

Don't chase your opponent

Running directly into your opponent is the worst thing you can do. It’s tempting to be aggressive when you see your opponent is running away but you’ll never catch him by following him around the ring.

The closer you get, the easier it is for him to run away from you. Going forward into your opponent allows him to escape around the sides. Instead of following him around the ring, it’s better to cut off his space so he has nowhere to run. This is why you hear boxing coaches yell, “Don’t follow your opponent, cut off the ring.”

You cannot trap your opponent by taking his space,
you trap him by not giving him anywhere to go.


2. MOVE SIDEWAYS (to cut off the ring)

Cut off the ring

The easiest way to cut off the ring is to move sideways. This keeps your opponent in front of you. He can’t run around you so he can only go backwards. By cutting off the ring, you will eventually be able to trap him along the ropes.

If he goes left, you go left. If he goes right, you go right. Every time you follow him sideways, he will feel the pressure because he can’t get around you. Your presence is there and he feels like he’s always in front of you, always in your spotlight. Eventually, he’ll try to get farther away and end up going backwards where you can easily cut off more of the ring.

Corner your opponent

It’s best to trap your opponent towards a corner. Once you’ve have his back facing a corner, keep cutting off the sides as you pressure him into the corner.

You cannot trap an opponent by following him,
you need to take away his space.


3. BACK UP (to keep him in front of you)

Back away from your opponent

Once you’ve got him in the corner, keep him in front of you! This means maintaining the space, don’t get too close and don’t pivot with him. If he tries to escape, take a step back to keep him in front of you, and then push him back into the corner again. The slick guys will try pivot out and slip to bait you into throwing punches (so they can escape) but all you have to do is step back and they won’t be able to get past you.

Don't jump on your opponent

The common mistake is to get over-aggressive and to jump on top of him. The closer you get to him, the easier it is for him to squeeze around you OR grab you and spin you into the corner.

Don’t jump into the corner with your opponent,
maintain some space to keep him in the corner.


Extra Tips to CUT OFF the Ring

1. Use the Drowning Style

The Drowning Style is perfect for wearing down a guy and making it hard for him to touch you. This style is useful for cutting off the ring because it makes it easy for you to push him back and take his ground but at the same time, he has a hard time pushing you back because he can’t even touch you.


2. Bounce In-&-Out WITHOUT Giving Up Your Ground

This can be a tricky balance to find. You want to go in and out in order to threaten your opponent and push him back, while at the same time keeping yourself out of harm’s way, while at the same time not letting him reclaim the open ground that you momentarily gave up. There are several ways you can go about this…you could take smaller bounce steps, you could also take bigger bounce steps but maintaining such an aggressive presence that he doesn’t take to take back the ground, you could also use clever timing so that he’s leaning back and off balance when you bounce back and so he’s unable to reclaim the ground. Use some creativity and come up with your own ways of establishing this fine balance of moving in and out while still claiming the ground.


3. Lean back

One of the best ways to go in and out without giving up ground is to lean back. It’s a great way to make some distance and evade his punches while at the same time holding your ground. It’s best if you have enough range awareness to only have to do this a little so that you don’t come off balance.


4. Cut around the front foot

It’s usually when the front foot escapes that the whole body can escape. When you trap an opponent, try to trap his front foot from stepping out or around you and you’ll have an easier time trapping him.


5. Push with Light Punches, Hit with Hard Punches

Use light punches or light touches to push him back. And then once he’s pushed back or placed in a position where you want, THEN hurt him with the hard punches. The problem with throwing hard punches at first is that you make it easy for him to defend, evade, and escape around you. You also make it easier for him to grab you when you commit to hard punches early. It’s better that you use the light punches to set him up into position first. Another thing about the light punches: even though they’re light, make sure you maintain an aggressive presence. This helps to maintain that psychological pressure that makes it more likely for him to remain passive and give up his ground.


How to AVOID Getting Trapped Along the Ropes

1. Never take a back-step

Go forward, sideways, or circle around him. Try to build a habit of never going backwards. You can practice this rule on the heavy bag. Always go forwards, sideways, or around. Going backwards takes away your space and isn’t necessary if you have the defensive skills to protect yourself while in range.


2. Get close and pivot

The more aggressive he is and the closer he gets to you, the easier it is for you to pivot around him on the inside. If he’s keeping a distance, you can make a quick duck into him and then pivot yourself. Even if you can’t pivot, you can clinch your opponent and spin him around you (great for putting HIM in the corner).


3. Escape around the big shots

The big punches give you the biggest opportunity to escape. Duck under and slip through those wide swinging shots or slip out the sides and jump away. If he doesn’t throw anything, you can use that opportunity to clinch.

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Santiago Sanchez July 1, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Very good information


George Stannard February 21, 2016 at 3:51 am

The info helps people but what if the fight was at school? Text me any answers on 07938461217


rich July 2, 2013 at 7:24 am

just on the avoid getting trapped on the ropes video, i think hearing “in and out” is the biggest demon it’s doesn’t mean forwards and backwards. Took me a while to grasp that


Peter July 2, 2013 at 10:52 am

Hey Johnny,

Thank you so much for all your info and tips on your website, it has been an enormous help for me to get back into boxing as I used to love. I had neglected many of my moves and fallen into bad habits – but now having found a new coach through your suggestions and help, I am progressing faster than I could ever have imagined. The most helpful and impressive article you have written (in my opinion, for my training purposes) are those regarding the conditioning of inner core muscles and the whole grounding your body notion. Again, I had been neglecting this for a long time, despite having been boxing for 4 years. This website has given me the motivation I so much needed to start getting back into the sport more professionally, and hopefully by the end of this year will be competing at the cruiser/heavyweight division, depending on if I can put on the extra pounds in muscle for the heavyweight, despite only being 5ft 10.

Thank you once again and I hope to see more great posts with the wonderful information you provide. My trainer is sometimes stunned at how I finish his sentences now which is pleasing for me! 🙂

Another quick question – do you personally do training with people on a one-on-one basis or such? I know you are based out in the states (I’m the UK), but perhaps one day I would love to come train with you.

All the best.


Johnny N July 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Good luck to you, Peter! Let me know how you do. I do accept 1-on-1 training requests from time to time. I have my hands full with my own fighters but it’s rewarding to help people on a personal level when I have time for it.


stunner July 4, 2013 at 9:19 am

how to pivot in boxing???


Johnny N July 8, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Keep one foot planted while the other one swings as your body pivots.


Diomedes July 16, 2013 at 6:32 pm

In the picture is that you leaving the ropes with your head down and not looking at your opponent? Seems like a bad habit to take your eyes off of your opponent.


Johnny N July 16, 2013 at 6:38 pm

That’s a picture of me getting beat up by a pro. I was sliding to get the hell out of the way! 🙂


Ki July 18, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Johnny I know this off topic but I was wondering whether lifting weights or not is good for boxing. I know you have something about weights and punching power but that’s not what I’m concerned about. My worry is that I’m naturally fast and I wasn’t sure if lifting weights will get rid of my speed.
I heard that light weight lifting with higher reps is much better. I’m not trying to lift like a body builder but i was generally thinking whether or not weights will decrease the speed i have or not.
So shall I start lifting weights or not for boxing?



Johnny N July 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm

I don’t see how lifting light weights will affect your speed. But you’ll have to try it and see for yourself. Everyone’s body has a limit and responds differently.


amar August 29, 2013 at 7:50 am

thanks johnny thanks a ton. always your posts are very very useful. i m a 91+kg boxer. i m confused to fight in south paw or orthodox, in both i m fighting well before competition how to finalize it? and also tell me which is best for increasing fighting stamina? RUNNING OR SWIMMING???


Johnny N September 26, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Amar, put your dominant hand in back.

Running and swimming are both excellent exercises. I don’t swim though so I wouldn’t be able to compare it to running.


Tim January 6, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Was wondering which boxers or fights to watch that best show how to cut off the ring?


Johnny N January 9, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Julio Cesar Chavez SR. Miguel Cotto, too. There were many great fighters who could stalk well.


Chris November 20, 2015 at 6:16 am

How should you respond when your opponent is cutting off the ring? I always end up trapped and don’t know how to respond to this….. Thanks for the article!


Johnny N July 15, 2016 at 11:33 am

Trying to get around him is the hardest thing. If you’re clever, try to escape by going through him. If you are skilled and comfortable getting in close, you can pretty much walk yourself forward into him and there you go.

I’ll have an article up soon on how to make ways to get out. For now, try this: lean your head more to one side and angle your body like you’re about to run out that way, and then pull your head out and use your feet to escape the other way. It sounds simple but it works.


loekman November 9, 2016 at 5:46 pm

I’ve been enjoiying your page for some time,,, i am teaching some boxing to some teenagers however,,, i figured out that my student has very fast hands and feet..
i am looking for footwork direction drills..
right now i am using the triangle system by being able to pivot and working 45 degrees..
Am looking for some other good footwork structures for an partial running aggresive and also has good speed..
i just wanna see him get to the next level

Well thank you for hearing me out


Johnny N November 10, 2016 at 12:47 pm

There are so many I could go over but in the meanwhile, do you have your fighters skipping rope? Have them skip rope and travel as they’re doing so.


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