How to Beat a Shorter Boxer

May 13, 2011 May 13, 2011 by Johnny N Boxing Strategy, Boxing Styles 97 Comments

How to Beat a Shorter Boxer

Your trainer tells you to keep jabbing but it doesn’t work. The short guys are too fast and too strong. Being tall was supposed to be a blessing, not a curse. This guide will teach you how to beat the shorter fighters.

Your trainer says you’re blessed for being taller and longer, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way. Boxing was supposed to be easier for taller guys like you, but for whatever reason it isn’t. The little guys keep getting inside no matter what you do. Before you go on wishing you were shorter and more muscular, you should learn how to box using your height and reach.

What’s So Great About Being Tall?

Height Advantage

Offensively, your hands are now closer to his head. You use less energy punching down at him than you would punching up at a taller opponent. Your shoulders don’t get as tired and it’s easier for you to hit him when his gloves aren’t held up all the way. Defensively, your head is further away from his punches. He might not be able to hit even if you drop your gloves from time to time.

Longer Reach

Offensively, you can hit him when he can’t hit you. As long as you guys are comparable in speed and skills, you will always be able to hit him first. He is forced to walk through punches to get to you. At outside range you can lead with power punches or even body shots because he still can’t reach you. At inside range, your longer arms can throw at wider angles he won’t expect. Defensively, you can jab to keep him away or even just push him back with your front arm. Your longer arms make it easier for you to grab him and clinch on the inside.

Higher Center of Gravity

Having a taller body means you can always weigh him down and tire him out. You can always lean on him yet he can never lean on you. You’ll always be the man on top in the clinch. Everytime you guys get tangled up, you get to move off first before he can move. As long as you keep fighting tall, he’ll be carrying you the entire fight.


Any Disadvantages of Being Taller?

These are just PERCEIVED disadvantages of being taller. I do see many tall guys that are just natural athletes and don’t have any of these disadvantages. These disadvantages are NOT the rule and do not apply to all tall boxers. I just bring known weaknesses to light so that you can work to overcome them.

Longer Punch Recovery

Lanky arms take longer to recover. Strengthen your recovery muscles so you can pull your arms back faster. You should also increase your accuracy! By being more accurate, you don’t have to worry so much about recovering missed punches.


Less Coordination

Longer limbs can sometimes be less coordinated. Longer limbs may have less motor control and accuracy. Try to focus on controlling your limbs when you throw punches or step around the ring. Don’t just be lazy and dangle your hands and legs around the ring.


Less Endurance

It’s just not common to see tall volume punchers. Longer limbs means the punches have to travel a longer distance which means more energy used. Because the fist is so far out from the shoulder, it takes more energy to throw long punches. Condition those arms and legs!


Less Speed

Sometimes the smaller guys are faster. Their muscles aren’t stretched out as long and so they can contract at a faster rate.


Less Power

If two guys weigh the same and one of them is taller, the taller one probably has less muscle. Less muscle often equates to less strength, less mass, less power. If you want more power, work on your punching technique and stay balanced.


Less Agility

Let’s face it. Smaller guys are more agile. They can slip punches and move their bodies around in ways that you can’t.


Less Balance

The tall guy’s center of gravity is higher making it easier for him to fall off balance. Every time the tall guy gets off balance, it takes him more energy and more time to regain his balance again. Bad balance means loss of power, loss of mobility, loss of control, and increased vulnerability to punches.




Beating a Shorter Boxer

For a second there, it almost seemed like being taller was a disadvantage. Trust me, it’s not. Your height and reach alone is going to be a NIGHTMARE for all shorter opponents. It doesn’t matter what the shorter boxer does, he cannot change this simple fact:

A taller boxer can increase his speed, endurance, power, and balance,
But a shorter boxer can NEVER increase his height and reach.

Simply put, you have an advantage that can’t be denied. As long as you fight with the right attitude in mind, you will defeat every shorter opponent! Boxing is a game of “hit and not get hit”, and if you can reach him when he can’t reach you, you’re two steps ahead of the game. Right when the bell rings you already have the advantage. The shorter boxer has to work hard for you to make a mistake and let him get into range. It’s really your fight to lose.

OK…enough confidence boosters. So how do we go about beating the little man? The tall-man vs short-man fight is always going to be about range. The entire fight will be him trying to get into range and you trying to keep him from getting into range. The fight is all about distance, which I broke down into 3 ranges.


The 3 Ranges of Fighting a Shorter Boxer

  1. Long Range (keep him away)
  2. Mid Range (push him back or clinch, DON’T TRADE)
  3. Close Range (crush him on the inside)


Taller boxers have the advantage at long range AND close range.

Lucky for you, the taller guy has the advantage in two of these distances: long range and close range. Many people are shocked to hear the taller boxer has the upper hand at close range. Many boxers, tall and short, actually think the shorter fighter has the advantage inside. It’s not true at all. The only range where the shorter boxer MIGHT have an advantage is at mid-range.

Learn how to fight at all 3 ranges, control the distance,

and you will EASILY beat the shorter fighter.


Long Range Fighting

You can hit him but he can’t hit you.

This is every tall boxer’s fantasy and short boxer’s nightmare. You can reach him with your punches but he can’t reach you with his. Long range is where you have the most advantage. The farther he is, the more advantage you have. All you have to do to maintain this advantage is keep your opponent away. Your trainer probably already taught you how to fight short guys: jab him to death and keep moving. Well, there’s a little more to it than that.

Throw the Jab

Ok, so your trainer was right. You can keep him away by throwing non-stop jabs. Double jab, triple jab, end your combos with a jab. It’s really important that you don’t let him slip under your jabs. So throw some jabs at his chest or even his guard. Flick out some light jabs for him to block. I would say speed matters more than power.

It doesn’t matter if your jabs don’t do any damage;
all that matters is that he doesn’t get past your jab.

A great idea is to throw the backstep jab: throw your jab as you step back with your back foot. The backstep jab works wonders because your jab and front foot is keeping him from coming while you’re getting away. Take smaller steps if you keep running out of room behind you. If he still gets too close, just stick out your arm and push him back (like you did to your little brother when you were 10).

Plant the Front Foot

If you’re going to run, be smart about it. Instead of just giving up ground, try leaving your front foot planted as you bend your back knee and shift your weight to your back leg. (Again, you are shifting weight to the bag leg, not leaning towards the back leg; big difference.) Because your front foot is still planted there, there’s no room for him to move in on you. Most guys will be scared to step past your front foot because he’ll be walking into your range. Eventually he will get past your jab and get past your front foot; NOW you can move the front foot and move away entirely.

Protect Your Body

At long range, your body may be the only thing he can reach. It’s only a matter of time before he goes for it. He’s tired of not being able to reach your head and chasing you around the ring so he’s gonna try to kill your legs by attacking your body. The good thing is, it’s easy for you to protect your body. Just pull your elbows down. You can even lean back a little if you want.

Throw Your Right Hand

It’s easy for opponents to get past your jab if they know it’s coming. So mix it up and throw a long right hand to scare them. Or maybe your opponent’s being lazy and wants to just eat your jab so he can get into range. Let him know you’ve got two hands. Hit him with the right! Now back to the jab! HA!

The Leanback Right Hand

This is a really ugly punch but I’ve seen really tall guys do it successfully. What you do is throw a right hand like you normally would but instead of leaning forwards into it, you lean back as you throw your hip forward. So it’s like a normal right hand but you lean your chest and head back so your opponent can’t hit you. This makes your punch so much longer because your head is on the outside of the punch instead of on the inside. Floyd Mayweather does this a lot during his pull counters.


Vitali throwing the leanback right hand
Vitali Klitschko throws the really ugly (but effective) leanback right hand.
(For better examples, just watch fights of Muhammad Ali, Paul Williams, and Vitali Klitschko.)

Conserve Your Energy

Conserve your energy while you let him waste his. There’s nothing he can do at long range. Let him jump around and throw 10-punch combinations at the air. At long range, you can evade punches just by leaning back. If you want to move, just walk calmly. No need to panic and jerk around with sudden movements. You need to save your energy for when he gets into mid range.



Mid Range Fighting

Both of you can hit each other.

This is the least advantageous range for you. This is where your opponent has the best chance to hit you. He’s finally able to hit you with his punches whereas your arms might need a little more room to throw. If he’s got faster hands, better footwork, or slipping skills, this is where he’s going to cause the most damage. You were not supposed to let him get this close, but oh well. Whatever you do, don’t stay at mid range. Your arms can’t extend for full power and he’s too far for you to clinch. If you want to trade punches, at least do it at your range and not his. Now let’s get to work.

Now you have to 2 options at mid range:

  1. You need punish him for being at this range. Hit him hard and throw all kinds of tricky angled hooks and uppercuts. You better be able to hurt him and make him regret coming in so close. If you can’t do that, oh boy, he’s going to stay there all day and cause all sorts of trouble.
  2. Suppose you don’t have the power to hurt him or he’s got too much willpower to eat your punches. In that case, you’ll have to use some strategy to force him back into long range (where he can’t hit you), or force him into close range (where you can clinch him). 


Lead With Power Shots

Depending on how much taller you are, you might be able to hit him with a right hands and left hooks while he can barely reach you with the jab. Oh man, you’re gonna have a lot of fun! Counter his jab with a left hook. Or counter his jab with a right uppercut. Just throw everything you can think of. Lead with uppercuts and right hands and left hooks. Don’t just aim at his head; aim at his body, too. He’ll be stuck at a distance blocking endless punches. Now, he’ll NEVER get into range.

Jab in the Chest

Now here’s a tasty little trick. Just keep your jab in his chest to force him out of mid range. Your opponent is going to hate you pushing him back and will eventually do one of these four:

  1. He moves back – excellent, now take his ground and jab him to death!
  2. He slips outside – he slips to the outside and tries to go under your jab. Just drop your forearm and bar it against his neck as you walk your hips into him. Now throw a right anywhere you like; there’s nothing he can do.
  3. He slips inside – ok he went the other way now. If you catch his head on the inside, just pull his head down and go into a clinch or throw a right uppercut into him. (remember to release his head when you punch or else you’ll get penalized for holding and hitting)
  4. He throws an overhand right – he gets frustrated and throws a right over your jab. Just take a step back and come back in with a counter-jab to his face. Then stick your jab in his chest again, hahaha!


Block & Run

It doesn’t have to be so complicated. You can just put up your hands and run until the fight is back at long range again. Unless you got some Muhammad Ali legs, this stops working when you get tired. Oh that reminds me, don’t ever tired.

If you get tired, he gets to be at mid range forever!


Close Range

Fighting on the inside.

Whoever said the shorter guy should always try to get inside has probably never fought a taller boxer. Tall boxers have been winning the inside game for years! Win the fight at close range and your shorter opponent will start running from you. You would think that taller boxers would lose exchanges on the inside because of their slower hands, but that isn’t the case. The taller fighter can win on the inside without even throwing a single punch.



Yeaup, I’m talking about the clinch. Taller guys win the clinch just about everytime. Think about it; when was the last time you saw a short guy clinch a tall guy? It never happens because the tall guy is always the one on top of the clinch and on the outside of the clinch. If you’re close enough, just grab him and clinch.



Clinching is just grabbing your opponent’s arm and leaning on him. What you really want to do is crush him. Lean your body on him and weigh him down. He won’t be able to fire back and he’ll get tired very quickly. I’m not telling you to cheat. I’m telling you to pull his head down if you miss a hook. Lean on him if he slips outside your punches. Any time he bends forward to reach you with punches or slip under you, just lean over him and crush him. You can lean on him using anything: your arms, your armpit, your chest, even your head. Keep your hips under you as you pull his head off his hips. The boxer with his hips under him usually wins the clinch.


Hip Crush

The hip crush is one of my favorite tactics:

When I want to lean on an opponent, I get hips as close to him as possible and then I drop my weight on him. The hip carries my entire body weight so as long as I can get my hips close, I can hang on my opponent with my arms or my upperbody and he will feel my entire weight. If I grab him while my hips far away, he won’t feel my weight.


Mosley leans on Mayweather

Mosley tries to lean on Mayweather but it doesn’t work. 

Mayweather has his hips under him whereas Mosley does not. Mosley is unable to apply enough weight to control Mayweather and gets hit with body shots soon after.



Mayweather crushing Mosley
Mayweather crushing Mosley with his upper body.

The trick to crushing opponents:
Don’t just lean on them, pull them towards your hip!


The hip crush is a great way to take advantage of your higher center of gravity. You can use your hips to crush another fighter’s hips and keep him from throwing explosive power punches at you. You can even do the hip crush while standing. Just put up a guard and then walk all the way into your opponent and try to imagine your hip leaning down on his. The hip crush is also effective against opponents with weaker (skinny) legs, less balance, or poor footwork.

Floyd walk-in hip crush

Floyd Mayweather walking down Shane Mosley with his hips high. 

Stick your hip out as if you’re trying to bump him with the side of your butt. Step your front foot deep in and try to force him back with your hip. Force his hips off balance and he’ll get confused. It works wonders for out-muscling a guy off his ground and gets you a free break while you tire him out. Your opponent can punch all he wants; your hips will block his from generating any power. Keep invading his space with your hips and punch when you’re ready.


Floyd Mayweather hip crush
Mayweather hip crushes Mosley on the inside, forcing him to step back. 

Mosley’s punches are smothered and deflected by Mayweather’s shoulders.


Forearm Crush

Once you’ve established a strong stance at close range with the hip crush, the next logical move would be the forearm crush. It’s better than the clinch in that it allows you to set your opponent up for punches.


Mayweather forearms on the inside

Anytime your opponent gets way too close for comfort, just stick your forearm into his neck and push his head over. This is a great tactic for guys that like to come in with their head.

Mayweather forearm crush

Usually, you put your left forearm on his left shoulder or your right forearm on his right shoulder. Then just push his head down to the side. Now just punch him with your other arm. You can also use the forearm crush after you miss a punch to prevent him for countering you. I made a video of Floyd Mayweather that highlights this “forearm crush” tactic as well as some of his other “boxing tricks”.


Examples of Great Tall Boxers

Tall guys have always suffered in speed, endurance, power, or coordination in comparison to their shorter opponents. The tall guys that overcame those disadvantages became ABSOLUTE MONSTERS! Just to give you some inspiration, here are a few notable tall champions that come to mind:

  • Thomas Hearns – the “Hitman” destroyed champions with his lightning speed and knockout power. So rare for a guy this tall to be this fast and this powerful. He was a monstrous welterweight with the power of a heavyweight.
  • Paul Williams – 6’1″ at 147lbs?! Was known for years in boxing circles as the “most feared man in boxing” and not without reason. The “Punisher” possessed an 82″ reach AND averages over 100 punches a round. Ok, now that’s not fair! How the heck is anybody supposed to get inside on this guy?!
  • Vitali & Wladimir Klitschko – the Ukranian brothers, “Dr. Ironfist” and “Dr. Steelhammer”, are the perfect example of fighting tall. 6’7″ and they REALLY know how to use their height and reach. Long jabs at long range, punishing crosses and hooks at mid range, and lots of clinching at close range. They wrote the book on fighting tall.
  • Junior Jones – “Poison” was 5’8″ fighting at 120lbs. He reminds me of a younger lankier Floyd Mayweather. Swings like Thomas Hearns. Was an absolute monster on the inside and outside.



Being Tall is an Advantage in Boxing!

Tall guys have always been a nightmare for shorter opponents. Mike Tyson’s first loss was to a guy with a huge height and reach advantage over him. In fact, Mike Tyson’s first fight that went to a decision was to a guy who fought tall. The point is: it doesn’t matter who you’re fighting, Mike Tyson or not, a taller guy will always have an advantage.

You don’t have to be tall boxer to fight tall. You can always use a tall-style to beat a boxer that likes to fight “short”. The tall-style can be great for beating inside fighters or other fighters that like to bend down a lot. Even if you aren’t taller than your opponent, but you have the better skills, you can still fight with the advantages of a tall person.

  • Learn the Drowning Style – this is a great boxing style if you’re tall or want to fight tall. It’s about maintaining constant pressure on your opponent.

Controlling the range is everything. It sets the tempo of the fight and how much damage you guys are able to inflict on each other. The tall-man vs short-man match-up will always be fought over distance. If you think you can outbox him, then by all means…go kick his ass at any range you want. If it were me, I’d follow this simple philosophy:

Your opponent will never land any punches
if he can never get into range!

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Jakob Stelzner May 13, 2011 at 8:40 am

Nice guide, as always!
I’ve probably read all the articles on this website about 2 or 3 times by now haha, but I was just wondering, because i keep forgetting to ask my trainer, is 5’9″ tall for a lightweight/junior lightweight? I’m fluctuating between 125 and 130 whenever I weigh myself. Also, my father is 6’4″ and im only 16, so do i have a bit more growing to look forward to?


Dennis June 22, 2013 at 2:15 pm

You will grow till your 18-20. At your age you want to eat a lot and get plenty of sleep. I went from 5’7 at 16 to 6’1 at 17. I would go to sleep around 10 or 9 pm if I finished my homework early.


sibtul May 13, 2011 at 8:58 am

great article been waiting for this and its finally here!:-)


Jaime Hernandez May 13, 2011 at 9:11 am

6’1″ Southpaw
I love this article! I really need learn to use more of these close range tactics. I had a fight a few months ago and lost because he kept running in and trying to push me over. I was off balance and frustrated. I spent the whole fight pushing him off and trying to get off shots. I pictured keeping him off with my jab all night, it always works but It was like he was trying to tackle me rather than box. My friend kept saying to side step or pivot and make him miss, but be would run in too quick. Thanks for the tip this site is the best!


Stefan May 13, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Awesome guide
Yeah wicked guide, loved reading it, and looking forward to practicing it


DKL May 14, 2011 at 3:41 am

This the most comprehensive guide on the art of boxing I’ve ever seen. Once again I’m dazzled bro… You should write a book…


DKL May 14, 2011 at 3:46 am

One question… I’ts very difficult for me to land more than two punches at long range, especially hooks and uppercuts. Should I focuse more on the straight shots i.e. the good ol’ one two?

Also, can you explain how “Mayweather walked Mosley down with his hips high?” It looks like he’s blocking punches with his shoulder. Is this a good idea for an average fighter?:P


Peter May 14, 2011 at 11:02 am

If you put everything on this site and put it into a book I would buy it. Johnny is also super nice and personally responds to my emails and questions. Another awesome guide, i love this site


seve May 14, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Brillant,some of this stuff i teach,but,got a couple of excellent concepts ive never thought of before.

Keep it coming,dkl is right you should write a book

Thanks a bunch;-)


max May 15, 2011 at 11:03 am

I would buy a book in a second. Especially because you guys write pretty well – coherent and articulate.
-Someone hook a brother up with a handwrap video.

Thanks guys!


paul May 15, 2011 at 11:41 pm

awesome guide, every time i read your articles i feel my boxing IQ grow.
hows about a guide for the shorter guys?
Thanks for the articles


Johnny N May 16, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Thanks, everyone. I’m glad you liked this guide. It was a lot of fun to write and I had to come going back to add more things that I remembered.

@Jakob Stelzner – Oh yeah…you’ve got some more room to grow!

@Jaime Hernandez – just way him down on the inside!

@DKL – if you’re so far that you can’t land hooks and uppercuts, that could be a good thing! As for walking down an opponent with your hips. Just scoot into him sideways as you try to force his hips off balance with your hips. As for blocking punches with your shoulder, it’s not too hard. You just have to watch someone do it over and over and you will get the hang of it.

@Peter – Thanks for the support! One day I’ll write a book and you’ll be the first to know!

@seve – Thank you!

@max – handwrap video and guide is coming next! The guide is already written, I just need to take pictures and record a video.

@Paul – the guide to fighting taller fighters is at the very end of this one. Thanks for reading!


Darren May 18, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Great article. I checked out the video of Pretty Boy. Can you explain the “Leaning Right” one? i couldnt see how he was leaning right, if anything he seemed to be leaning a little to the left (his left)


Johnny N May 20, 2011 at 11:43 am

Hi Darren,

When I said “leaning right”, I meant that he’s leaning back when he throws his right hand counter.


Jason C May 21, 2011 at 8:53 am

Great article
Thanks very much for taking the time to put these guides together mate, they are an excellent resource. Thanks also for putting the tips videos on youtube, I know doing anything like that is very time consuming!



Johnny N May 24, 2011 at 8:32 pm

@Jason C – thanks, man! Those videos were killer. I don’t know if I’ll ever find the time to do that again.


pritom June 20, 2011 at 8:59 pm

can the forearm crush and the hip be used agianst a taller opponent?? (talking about 2-6/7 inches taller opponents)


Johnny N June 21, 2011 at 6:23 pm

@pritom – yes you can! I’ve used an upwards forearm crush as I shoved my forearm up at an opponent’s neck as he hang off the ring. I did this in sparring, I’m pretty sure it’s highly illegal in amateur competition. As for the hip crush, you could definitely try pushing him off balance with your hips. It wouldn’t be a hip crush, but perhaps a hip bump.


LightY July 12, 2011 at 6:30 am

Just wondering if these tactics are effective when sparring with much heavier and stronger opponents – even though I have the height and reach advantage.
It often feels like I am just being muscled and bullied around the ring and my stiff jabs and counters do nothing to slow down my sparring partners
they don’t think twice about eating a few punches and continuing to advance – with 20-30lbs on me at least I don’t really blame them 😉
thoughts on best strategies so I can practice these techniques as well as the drownng technique against shorter but much heavier and stronger boxers? 😛


Johnny N July 13, 2011 at 6:34 am

@LightY – they SHOULD work but with limited success. You’ll have to be better skilled than they are if they hold the weight advantage. Your athleticism must also be good enough to compete despite the size disadvantage. Nonetheless, the techniques should work.


LightY July 13, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Thanks Johnny I’ll keep working these in as much as I can – so far it has definitely been helping my situation :P…. really love your site – look forward to every single article! 😉


Johnny N July 14, 2011 at 3:33 am

@LightY – awesome. I’m happy for you. Which tips helped you the best? Fighting bigger guys is always going to be tricky.


Oscar July 22, 2011 at 1:04 am

Great tips!
I’m a tall boxer myself, just started boxing and still have trouble getting a good hold on my opponent when he comes up too close. I will be trying out these clinch tips!


Arran July 25, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Pretty helpfull article. I’m 6’0 and 127 lb 😛


Keenan July 28, 2011 at 6:45 am

sweet!! i’m 5’10 at 120 pounds , age 15


Johnny N August 1, 2011 at 7:01 pm

@Arran & Keenan – holy crap, you guys are monsters!


adnan September 1, 2011 at 5:11 pm

kind of scary to see how to beat me 😛 but my question is that doesnt the peek a boo gaurd combined with head movement protect from the shots to the body from taller fighters anyway?? i use it usually when sparring bobing and weaving. and my second question is that do u have anyway a smaller guy can clinch whn he is close or at mid range to drain enegy from the taller guy?/


Johnny N September 2, 2011 at 4:33 pm

@adnan – I answered your clinching question on the “beating a taller boxer” article. As for the peek a boo guard and head movement. Eerrrrr….ok, a good defense and movement is going to help your defense. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in the peek-a-boo style, it can be in any style.


Stanimir September 27, 2011 at 5:00 am

My height is 189cm (6 ft 2 in) and my weight is 75 kilograms (165lb)…
My question is – Is it healthy for me to lose another 6kilograms (13lb) in order to fight in weltherweight division?
Can someone tell me a boxer with that height in weltherweight??


Johnny N September 27, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Stanimir, I know of several tall boxers at welterweight. At the amateur level, it’s common to see guys drop 15 pounds for competition. At the pro level, I’ve seen 20-25 pounds. It’s horrible but it’s up to you to decide what is healthy and what is possible. If you want to see a really tall welterweight, look up Thomas Hearns or Paul Williams, or even lightweights Diego Corrales, Ali Funeka.


Stanimir September 28, 2011 at 1:58 am

Thank you, J, for the quick answer and the great site! Best regards!


Johnny N October 17, 2011 at 10:38 am

You’re welcome!


jack October 14, 2011 at 12:37 pm

hey how do i counter the jab in the chest tactic in mid range.??


Johnny N October 17, 2011 at 10:38 am

Jack, to be honest I haven’t figured out the puzzle to that either. I’m great at doing it to others but countering it not so much. Most guys tend to plow through with a big overhand right OR they leave their forearms high and then shoot a straight right anytime he extends that left arm. Another way I get around it is to lift my arm like an overhand right but I shoot the hand down to his ribs. That’ll teach him not to lift that elbow again.


Travis October 27, 2011 at 9:41 pm

I’m a tall for my weight class and i was wondering is it considered long range when you can simply touch your partners guard with a completely stretched out arm without stepping in or is that too close? How much further away would you want to be? I’m just coming up short when landing straight shots to my partners head. I guess its just a range and timing thing.


Johnny N November 1, 2011 at 1:56 pm

It definitely sounds like a range & timing issue, Travis. Anything with a stretched out arm is long range. Try to be at a range where you feel like you can hit him if you move in an inch, but also escape if you move back an inch. Try to find that line. It will be difficult because both guys are always invading each other’s space, that’s where good footwork comes in.

The REAL trick is to get into range without letting him know that you’re in range. In that case, don’t hold that stretched out.


curtis c January 16, 2012 at 1:57 am

kenny weldon the myth of fighting tall on youtube. what do you think of that is what he is saying true that fighting tall is a myth or not? And another thing. How tall do i have to be to have a height advantage?


curtis c January 16, 2012 at 2:42 am

can you exsplain a little bit more about the hip crush im facinated?


Johnny N January 17, 2012 at 9:34 am

The “hip crush”, term I made up, is the idea of invading your opponent’s space with your hips as opposed to your punches or your feet. Your hips carry your body’s weight making it useful for knocking over weak-legged opponents.


Caique February 5, 2012 at 2:27 pm

You have to correct one things on the post, taller boxers has more power than shorter, longer reach has more powerful than short reach. The short reach is better for push movement, like push up a sand pack.

Taller boxers has more foot speed, long leg, long steps.

Out of this the post is good!


Eric February 5, 2012 at 2:57 pm

It’s been said if you have a tall fighter make him fight taller, inversely you make a short fighter even shorter by having him fight shorter. The Klitscho brothers who you used in your post are a fine example of tall fighters who fight tall, while short fighters like Dwight Qawi, or say Rocky Marciano fought out of pronounced crouches making themselves even shorter. I think your post is right about taller fighters generally lacking in speed, endurance,power, and especially coordination. I think even in today’s society to see men of the Klitscho’s size that are so athletic and have endurance to boot is still rare, much less for them to be Heavyweight Champions dominating their opponents. Someone once said that the best heavyweight fighters are never exceptionally big men, only big enough, feeling that the super size fighters would be slower, uncoordinated, lack endurance, and maybe just not be mean enough to win over the more “normal-sized” heavyweight.


dylon g February 10, 2012 at 11:52 pm

Hey man, so here’s my deal. I’m a very tall boxer ( 6 foot 9 ) and will likely be around 610-7 feet by the time i’m done growing ( im 16). I’ve always been a basketball player and have always played the guard position. I’m as quick as the small guys and really cordinated. I have good footwork too and obviously the advantages of being taller. I’m also in really good shape from basketball ( played on team Canada). The thing is though I’m not very heavy at all ( 185 pounds) and may have less power than some of the shorter guys I”m facing.

What kind of fighting style would you recommend for an extremely tall, quick and coordinated boxer who may have less power and weight. I learn skills really well and am really light on my feet. Other than improving the power and strenght of my body, what kind of fighting style should i go for?

Thanks, I hope to hear from you.


Johnny N February 11, 2012 at 1:05 pm


Don’t worry about your fighting style. You have tall-guy advantages as well as short-guy advantages so this means you can work on everything. Work on everything and don’t worry about the style. Whatever feels most comfortable and natural, do that while you develop higher level skills.


jason May 1, 2012 at 12:58 am

Great article… im a new boxer 5’11” at a comfy 139lb lookin to fight at 132. I love the nagging jab! Heres another angle on how to fight shorter boxers: read the “opposite” article and get into the mindsets of what shorter fighters will like to do.. again, awesome article.


Tom June 15, 2012 at 2:53 am

im curious about the forearm crush; im 192cm and weight 70kg and pretty successful at sparring and street fighting; my question is if i caan push my opponent with my forearm (near the elbow) as much as i want. I tried it with a friend and he almost fall and it hurts alot he said. And if yes, i should push him right where the most nerves are so that the pain is greater?


Johnny N June 19, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I use the crush to help control my opponent, not necessarily to hurt him. If I want to hurt him badly, I would use a punch.


Tom June 21, 2012 at 9:54 am

yea, now that i think about it, didnt looked from that angle, ty alot


Abz June 22, 2012 at 2:01 am

I’ve just started to box recently and at 6’1″, will that be some height advantage as a middleweight?

Also, what do you think of Michael Nunn style-wise before he got beaten by Toney?


Johnny N June 22, 2012 at 3:42 am

Michael Nunn’s a good fighter. He was able to become a boxing champ so I’d say he’s pretty darn good. Stylewise, he did what worked for him and so I have nothing bad to say about it. 6’1″ might be a bit taller than most middleweights but not all.


vvtill August 21, 2012 at 3:38 am

sorry for i asking this stupid question, may i know is it possible to K.O someone that has no jaw or chin??

i mean maybe the guy head so big and fat until the jaw or chin was not obvious. Do they have more advantage of not being K.O since it is hard to aim for their Jaw and Chin?


Johnny N August 21, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Yes you can. Everybody has a jaw whether it sticks out or not. Hit the bottom of his mouth on the side. Or aim for his temples. There are many places.


Chris August 31, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Saying the shorter boxer has the DISadvantage at short range is completely wrong I think, get in close against a taller guy and you cut his reach off, causing him to not be able to throw punches, and yes a shorter boxer CAN lean against a taller boxer, right into his chest, forcing his arms either up near his face exposing the body, or against his chest exposing his ribs and head, some of this is absolutely rubbish and untrue


Johnny N September 4, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Please read more carefully. I defined close range in this article as the CLINCH RANGE (where neither fighter can throw punches). And defined the mid-range as the punching range (where the short fighter holds an advantage…in agreement with your comment).

I agree that a shorter boxer CAN lean his head into a taller boxer’s chest (I’m with you so far). But tell me how exactly are you going to be able to punch from that position? Definitely not his head and probably not even his body (because it’s too close). I mean seriously… go out and try it. Put your head on right on your opponent’s chest and see if you can punch his body effectively.


Fred September 21, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Sir johnny, i have a scheduled bout against a taller boxer this coming October 19, i red this column to check out my opponents advantages over me so that i can avoid those situation and check the things that he might do in the ring, i also noticed that you added some Disadvantages of being a taller fighter, but I’m just wondering if you can give me some tips on how to fight as a smaller fighter? i know this contradict this column but any tips coming from you would be very much appreciated.


Johnny N September 21, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I have a guide for this! “How to Beat a Taller Boxer”.


manny pacquiao September 22, 2012 at 6:15 am

boss johnny,can i ask you? for example your not born yet, what do you want tall or short man?
and who’s your favorite boxer? please answer my simple question thank much


Johnny N September 23, 2012 at 6:30 pm

I would prefer tall. I have many favorite boxers.


Velaxus October 10, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I really like this article! it helped me a lot Jhonny thank you very much


curtis carpenter October 26, 2012 at 12:18 pm

why dont you write a guide on crushing a opponent?

and justanother suggestion what about a notice board for when articals are coming up or in the making/ in the process of coming up? It would help eagerly awaiting fans like me oing onto the site every morning and day waiting for the next educational artical.


Johnny N November 5, 2012 at 3:53 pm

It’s half written but will be finished later. I would put an article board up but I don’t know when I write either. Whenever I have free time! I try to release at least one per week.


Stevie November 19, 2012 at 6:59 am

This is all good until you fight a shirt guy who can slip well and counter aka Mike Tyson


ldnsthpw November 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Hi, I thought this was a really good article. I was wondering if 5ft 9 is tall for a welterweight female boxer?


Johnny N December 2, 2012 at 8:48 am

All depends on your local circuit. From what I usually see, the more skilled competition is usually taller (because their fights have to do with a lot of range and reach). And the lesser skill competition is usually shorter (because their fights rely more on power and endurance).


Will H December 4, 2012 at 5:18 am

Hi Johnny,

I’ve just been trying out what you recommend and it works a treat I spar at a very quiet gym in England and so far out of the three partners I had only one remains, a 5’10” 230lb very keen and supprisingly quick lad, I’m 6’0 and 165lb and I’m currently beating him in the clinch and at close range which I could never do before. I’m not very good at head movement, do you have any basic tips to improve?

Thanks Will


Johnny N December 7, 2012 at 9:44 am

Develop stronger legs. More shadowboxing helps. You have a long body so you need stronger legs (and core) before you’re able to move your head around quickly without coming off balance.


Gaz December 17, 2012 at 12:23 pm

How do I improve my hand and foot speed aswell as becoming more fliexible? I’m a new starter to this and need tips


Johnny N December 21, 2012 at 11:35 pm

For beginners, work your technique. Start with shadowboxing and work your way from there.


MikeT March 6, 2013 at 5:50 am

Hi Johnny. Excellent article, I just started boxing myself and have found it hard to get the tactics right in sparring so this should help alot! Just wondering could techniques like the forearm crush, hip crush and leaning your weigh on your opponent be seen as illegal/dirty tactics in amateur fights or would there be no opposition to it?? thanks in advance for any feedback!


Johnny N March 7, 2013 at 2:32 pm

It all depends on how you do it. 😉


Daniel May 17, 2013 at 3:01 am

Hey Jonhy what do you think about this?!
Great article, btw, as always!


Johnny N June 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm

It’s logical advice but there’s always more that can be said. For one thing, if your head is so tall that your opponent can’t reach you, there’s no reason why you should bring it down to make it easier for him.

Also, the arm reach isn’t necessarily always your shoulders to your fist. It could be your HEAD to your fist. So if by leaving your head up there, he will have a harder time getting to you because your head is further away.

As for bending down. Yes, you can bend down if you like but it doesn’t make sense to make a rule of always bending down to the opponent’s eye level. What if you’re so tall that it’s uncomfortable to bend down? Bending the knees more than is comfortable will tire you out quickly.

Lastly, it depends on your strategy. Are you trying to go be aggressive or passive? Are you going inside or outside? Are you looking to throw only jabs or do you want to dig harder shots?

Everything fluctuates…everything is used and necessary at different times. Imagine if someone told you to “always put your hands by your face”….well how can you do that if your hands are busy punching? To have follow one rule without understanding it’s purpose would leave you at a big disadvantage.


Justin June 12, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Love your site. Only one like it! My question is at 6’5 212ish (working on getting down to lighter weight as I’m lanky and not interested in fighting heavyweights, I think) I’m having trouble engaging my core to impose my size and throw with power. Maybe once I’m in better condition I will connect everything better. My trainer is working on having me stay tall but strong. I’m just not making the connection yet. I understand the idea, I’m just having trouble applying it at this time. Coach says I’m rounding my shoulders and bending forward too much. Do you have any tips? Also, I’m having trouble ripping body shots while staying tall and not bending down. Keep up the great work man. I wish you luck with everything.


Johnny N June 12, 2013 at 6:15 pm

You just need to work on basic technique. Have him adjust your body and practice moving around from that new position before you try to add other movements (like punching or slipping).


dylon July 17, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Hey Johnny, you might remember me commenting before; I’m the 6’9 17 year old kid. Anyway, I’ve been boxing a ton for the last few months and am sparring now. I’ve worked obsessively on my jab and double jab and footwork and, man, have I got to say did it ever pay off! My jab is really straight and ridiculously fast. I got it to be this fast by leaving my hand completely relaxed and only giving it a slight clench at the end of the punch.
Because of the speed of it guys can’t slip or duck it and even if they block it the punch is already recovered by the time they can even think of retaliating.
It seems so easy for me now! I just jab and double jab the crap out of guys at long range, and when they try to throw some shots at me I can just slide back out of range and he hits air, which fatigues and wears him down even further. Guys rarely even try to lead with punches on me and the only way for them to counter my jab is to duck/slip it first and then get in range, but it’s so fast it can’t be done anyway.
Here’s the question though, is moving straight backwards out of range to avoid punches a bad thing? It seems natural to me given that I’m already at a huge reach advantage anyway. I mean, why try to stay in range and counter if I can just have them hit air whenever they try any offense and then continue leading at my own pace.
Would you agree with this, or am I missing something.
Go ahead and skim through this post if you like, it’s pretty long.


Johnny N July 22, 2013 at 4:59 pm

If it works, it’s not a bad thing. Moving straight backwards is not something most trainers like to hear but your height allows you to get away with it, or better yet, take advantage of it. Don’t worry about that so much. Keep finding new ways to accomplish things and your technique will improve as you find easier and better ways to box.


vasu August 6, 2013 at 11:59 pm

thank you use full for u r cmt thnks dear get cmt send my mail id then i try to missing action so send that moment


Tim January 3, 2014 at 6:33 pm

Hey Johnny,
Great article once again. I’ve recently been sparring with this new middleweight ( i’m light heavy). He’s really slick and I never had trouble keeping him out with my jab to his chest face and stomach. Recently he’s stopped trying to jab to my stomach and is just jabbing up and it’s killing me cause’ it makes it so much easier for him to get into midrange. Was wondering if you had any advice?


Johnny N January 9, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Have you tried some uppercuts with your front hand? And also with the back hand? Take a small step back when he comes in with the jab, and launch and uppercut and then some hooks. Try to make it more of a rangy uppercut rather than one that actually goes up into the air. (Think of it as an upside down punch.)


Tim January 13, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Johnny… You the man I tagged him with a perfect uppercut and he even admitted to me afterwards that he would have gotten knocked out if I had pressed him after that shot. I just started at Winky Wright’s Gym in St Pete and they recommended the same thing as well as to double and triple my jab more. I usually try to get advice from as many sources as possible. Thanks for the advice!


Johnny N January 24, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Good job, Tim!


Xyan April 10, 2014 at 9:16 am

what if i am tall for my weight class but usually lack a significant reach advantage? Do you have any tips for that situation?


Xyan April 12, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Let me elaborate a little bit. I am 5’8 and the average height in my division is 5’5. My reach however is 66 inches one inch over the divisional average. So with those numbers how would I best go about fighting someone such as the current divisional champion who is 5’3 with a reach of 66 inches as well. This kind of situation is common for me and I am just curious as to your opinion.


Johnny N July 13, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Keep working on your techniques. Good offense and good defense. Perhaps if you’re really concerned about having short arms, you can fight with a high-head position like the Klitschko brothers.


Xyan April 6, 2015 at 10:38 pm

Hey Thanks!
I have learned to try and not be as concerned with my reach. I think that’s really the key. The point you made about *perceived* weaknesses/strengths….that really is what i took to heart. It makes a huge difference when you stop thinking about all the numbers and what is SUPPOSED to happen and start thinking about how to make things happen.
Im sure you scroll through enough rambling that wastes your time so i will stop there

I’ve been following your website for two years now and I love it. You aren’t my boxing coach, but you have been a teacher to me.
Thank you:)


henry June 10, 2014 at 5:53 am

When I fight a shorter guy their usually quick, and when I throw they just lean back angle and lunge in. How do I stop these guys from staying outside my range and pouncing in on me?


Johnny N July 13, 2014 at 6:21 pm

Use some feints. Be patient and don’t throw until you know it’s going to hit. You can also throw more jabs. Also aim at the chest so it still keeps them away even if it doesn’t land. You can also try walking into them and crushing them on the inside before throwing. There are many ways to go about this.


Anthony March 1, 2015 at 8:10 am

Great guide, appreciate the effort you put into it along with the fight screenshots.
I really never considered the inside range situation and how I could, at 6’4″ handle it.
Thanks so much.

What are ‘recovery muscles’ and how to work them?


Steve Jabs March 27, 2015 at 3:20 pm

Hi Johnny

This is an excellent article! So is the other article on fighting a taller guy.

I am 6 ft and 75 kg (on a good day) so most of my weight is in my height and reach. Also, I would say I’m not particularly aggressive and I hate getting hit in the head. So I have always tried to stay “on the outside” with long left jabs and straight rights. I love boxing (sparring) with like minded boxers in this way, but invariably I get in the ring with a shorter guy (with his weight allocated to other areas), or perhaps a tall guy who finds it easier to project a powerful punch over a sorter distance (with hooks and uppercuts). So these guys get sick of boxing my way pretty quickly, which is fair enough, and want to close the gap. When they do I usually fall to pieces, so this is an area I need to work on if I am to get better as a boxer.

Fortunately, I have recently made progress in this area and I would like to share my latest thoughts on this with you and your followers if I may .

An ancient warrior needed to know when to put down his longbow and pickup his shield and sword. So to, an outside boxer needs to know when to make the transition from moving and firing long & loose punches to a tight defense, bracing against his opponent on the inside, and responding with grubby short-range punches where possible until the onslaught is over or until he can find some space again.

Personally (me in orthodox stance vs orthodox opponent), I currently try to do this by: dropping my center of gravity, widening my stance, hiding my chin behind my left shoulder, dropping my left elbow in tight against my left ribs, pin my left glove against the left side of my face.This protects me against the right hand bombs that my opponent is now desperately trying to land. At this point things are feeling a little out of control and I am in survival mode. From this position I would be unlikely to throw any punches with my left glove, although I might raise my left forearm to vary my guard and try to open up some space. Meanwhile my right glove is on the right side of my jaw and looking for a hook or perhaps a straight when I start to get more space again.

So for me, at the moment, it is all about this transformation between the two states- I need to be an inside fighter with a shorter guys who is on top of me, but preferably an outside fighter when he is circling around me trying to find a way in. Although I am now finding that being half-way between these two extreme states is probably best, because I am not as fast as I would like to be and I find that a good boxer can be on top of my in a blink of an eye if he wants to be. And if I get caught it the wrong state at the wrong time (with loose arms up high flapping around) I am of course dead meat! Also, I find it helps if I let the close fight happen sometimes and try to enjoy it.



Wahaj April 24, 2015 at 8:14 am

Hey Jahnny I have a question. Is 5’7″ tall for a bantam weight and does it give me asignificant reach advantage since my reach is 30 inches and by the way I am only 13.


Nader August 30, 2016 at 11:28 am

i’m tall fighter i’m 1.88 but there is some wrong every fighter i fight keep running away is the fight and when i get to attack he counter and keep running my couth think that i’m not a good fighter what should i do


Toney Liakakis December 13, 2016 at 12:16 pm

From an Ex-two times Golden Gloves Champion.

This article looks as if it was wrote from short bias fighter who was garbage in boxing, if he even boxed at all. This would be too long to touch on, but here are one things he’s wrong about from the start.

“down at him than you would punching up at a taller opponent.” He writes this as if punching down is better than punch up, but this is 100% incorrect. You generate a lot more power punching up vs punching down. A prime example of this is, a uppercut if the most powerful punch you can throw. When you punch down you take away from the power of the punch because you are breaking form, thus slowing down and turning your body in positions that break the max impact. This about it like this, what has more force, dropping at the knees or jumping up (as a basic way to explain this).

A taller fighter will never “own the short man on the inside and thus the battle begins for control. Clinching is nice, but unlike you’re a fighter like Lewis or Klitschko who are allowed to ignore to the rules of boxing and grab 80% of the fights you will get a warning and possible point deduction for relying on clinching. The best thing to do, is to learn how to circle out and use your jab to create that separation.

Now, let’s look at people who has quotes from:

Tommy Hearns – Lost to much shorter men in his prime, Sugar Ray Leonard and Haggler both were top tier level fights and destroyed him.

Paul Williams (one of my all time favorite fighters) – Was knocked out by the much shorter Sergio Martinez and truth be told should have lost the first decision to him because he fought short against a very skilled short fighter which is a huge NO, NO!

The bottom line is this, IMO it is much easier for a shorter man to fight a taller man unless that taller man is a knock out artist. While the taller man does have a nice jab advantage his body size is an even bigger dis-advantage. A unskilled shorter man will normally lose to a taller fighter, but when that taller man steps up in class and fights a very skilled shorter fighter the taller man almost always looks lost. The problem is range, once the shorter man gets in landing distance he can eat punches all day due to the taller man not being able to generate enough torque to throw with full power, while the shorter man is unloaded on him. The taller man’s longer body is very easy to break down even from range and history has shown time and time again the shorter same level tier fighters normally end up winning esp. in boxing and esp. in lower weight classes that are not heavy weight. The tall lanky body breaks down a lot quicker than the shorter harder target to hit. Think about it like this, a short man can go for the body and head, meanwhile a tall man can only head hunt (the hardest part of the body to hit) because if he drops down to throw body blows then he is opening up his head to be hit.

All and all IMO there are more dis-advantages to being taller (more than 3-4 inches) than shorter than someone. I use to love fighting taller guys and hated fighting shorter fighters because of the chest match to keep them out, not to mention the fact it is easier to hit on the inside vs form range.

To win as a taller fighter you must limit your arsenal to straight punches and control the distance which actually uses more energy if you’re being forced to fight off the back foot.


Johnny N December 13, 2016 at 1:52 pm

Way to miss the point, entirely. This is an article written specifically for taller fighters to utilize whatever advantages they may have against short opponents. This doesn’t mean that their extended height & reach in and of itself is a complete advantage with no drawbacks. This also doesn’t mean that I’m against short fighters or think they have no advantages against tall fighters. All fighters, whether short or tall, have had their complications against both tall and short fighters.

With that being said, being taller and longer is still generally preferable to being shorter. It’s when you become TOO TALL, or too lanky that your extra height & reach starts to come with serious drawbacks. Of course, there will always be exceptions. There will also always be guys that cross the mold a bit, such as tall guys with short arms, or short guys with long arms. There are many other factors outside of height but this article isn’t meant to go into that right now.


Toney Liakakis December 15, 2016 at 3:16 pm

Judging by what you have written I do not even think you understand why taller boxers would even be a preference in lower weight classes because you think it has to do with advantages in reach/etc. which is actually a huge dis-advantage unless talking about HW.

The reason why coaches like taller men in lower weight class has to do with the amount of mass you can put on by fight night. Take a 147 lbs 5’8 guy, he will at best get up to around 160 by fight night, but if you take a 147 lbs 6’1 guy by fight night he will weight 170 +. This is the real reason for tall fighters in lower division of weight. That is the only true advantage one has with being taller (the weight factor) other than that, the shorter fighters at top tier level are almost always favored.

The list of short fighters per weight class will go on forever while tall men (excluding heavy) will be a list one can count on their hands. It’s not hard to look this information up before sinking time into an article that from a fighters view point is pretty hogwashed.

Finally the title of your article is “How to Beat a Shorter Boxer” so everything I wrote is valid to this topic. I do not know if you have ever fought before, but like I said, I get the vibe from your article you are very short, thought you could fight, joined a boxing gym, and got yourself handed to you by taller men because you or your coaches had no idea how to teach you to work your way into the inside.


Johnny N December 15, 2016 at 8:24 pm

Toney, the article is written to help taller boxers beat shorter boxers. It isn’t the end-all opinion of whether or not it is better to be shorter or taller. It is simply a collection of tips and ideas on how a taller fighter might be able to outbox a shorter fighter. If you have any ideas on how that might be done, feel free to contribute.

All your talk about why taller fighters are preferred because of being able to put on more weight by fight night is not exactly relevant to what I’m talking about. Amateurs have same day weigh-ins and do not have time to go pack on weight. Also…my tips are only for what I would personally recommend for the taller fighter at the moment of the fight. There is an unstated assumption in my advice that “given all things equal…the taller fighter is recommended to do such and such…”

For the record, I am 5’7″ and walk around at 140lbs…and very lanky at that weight. I am often the taller/longer fighter at this weight.


D mang January 10, 2017 at 2:17 am

Good article, well written, helpful, easy read, thank you. I clicked all ads on page to show support 🙂


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