How To Slip Punches In Boxing

May 20, 2010 May 20, 2010 by Johnny N Boxing Techniques, Defense Techniques 26 Comments

Learn how to slip punches like Floyd Mayweather. Ok, maybe not like Floyd but you’ll still drive your opponents crazy as they chase you around the ring unable to hit you.

How To Slip Punches In Boxing

I don’t even know why I wrote a guide to slipping before I wrote one on basic boxing defense. I’ll do what I can to make readers happy but I’m afraid of what it will do to beginner level boxers. I can already imagine legions of Mike Tyson hopefuls skipping over basic defense lessons and other boxers rolling their eyes at me for teaching advanced boxing to people who’ve never stepped foot in a ring.
If you’re not skilled enough to be doing this stuff, learn it for your enjoyment but PLEASE DO NOT rely on this as solid boxing defense. Enough warnings and disclaimers and on to the fun stuff!

Intro to Slipping

Slipping is the art of defending against a punch by moving slightly out of the way instead of blocking it. It’s a very advanced maneuever because you have to get yourself entirely out of the way of the punch while keeping yourself in range to counter-punch. Just like how a knockout is the best move you can make offensively, slipping is the best move you can  make defensively. When slipping is performed masterfully, it is part of what makes boxing such a beautiful entertaining sport to watch.
Learning how to slip punches is a really advanced skill (almost unnecessarily advanced). How advanced? Advanced enough that some boxers can become world champions without ever becoming really good at slipping. Think Antonio Margarito.

Why Slip Punches Instead of Blocking

What Happens When Boxers Slip Punches

When you slip an opponent’s punch, it puts them at a great disadvantage. They may fall off-balance and become vulnerable for deadly counter-punches or become too scared to punch you in fear of being counter-punched. At the very least, slipping will also sap your opponent’s energy since it’s far more tiring to hit the air and miss than to hit a solid object (think of how tiring it is to punch full force against a double-end bag VS heavy bag).

Slipping Punches Makes Counter-Punches Easier

The best reason for slipping is that it frees up your arms to allowing you to counter-punch while your opponent is punching.. Your counter-punches will have greater effect since your opponents are less likely to be able to block them or even see them coming.

Slipping Elevates Your Game

In some cases, it’s impossible to penetrate a fighter with a very tight defense. Your opponent will never be open except for when he’s punching, so slipping is the only way to overcome his defense. By learning how to slip, you are creating opportunities to counter-punch that might not have otherwise been present.

When to Slip Punches

Knowing when to slip is crucial. The reason for this is because slipping requires a lot of energy and awareness. If you’re not careful, you’ll be wasting energy and allow your opponent to learn your slip pattern and anticipate your next move.

Slip During Combinations

Generally, slipping is a reflex that you will use while throwing combinations. So basically, you would come in, throw some punches and right when you see your opponent throw a counter-hook or right-cross, you’ll immediately slip outside of it. What you WOULDN’T normally do is slip the first punch he throws like for example, slipping the jab. This is dangerous because he hasn’t committed to punching you yet. An advanced boxer would see you slipping and immediately disengage from throwing any more punches. Next time he engages with you, he’ll most likely fake the jab and then uppercut right as you try slipping the jab. Again, slipping is something you do against the opponent as both of you are trading punches.

Slip The Bigger Punches

It’s better to slip your opponent’s bigger punches because he’s more vulnerable when committing to bigger punches. Don’t to slip too many jabs. They’re really fast punches with minimal recovery time so your counter might be too late. Slipping a jab also burns your energy since you have to move faster than the jab. (Slipping a left cross, is definitely ok!)

SLIP Head Punches but BLOCK Body Punches

When trying to slip a punch, make sure it’s a head punch. If  you try to slip a body punch, you’ll be wasting energy and maybe even accidentally put your head in the way of his punch. If fact, many trainers will tell their fighters to use body punches when facing an opponent that slips constantly. If a body punch is coming at you, it’s much easier to just block it.

Guidelines to Slipping Punches

Use your legs, NOT your back.

You can look watch Mike Tyson slip in the last minute of this video. He’s using his leg muscles, NOT his back muscles. In fact, most trainers will tell you to use your legs to get low, NOT your back. Using your back to slip means you’re bent over too off-balanced to land a good counter-punch and vulnerable to uppercuts. Another risk to using your back to slip all the time is that you’ll wear it out and even damage your lower back. Always bend your knees to lower your head instead of bending your back. (Bending your back a little is ok but make sure you bend your knees first to maintain balance and power!)

Rotate the body

Generally if you’re moving to the right of a punch, you will rotate your body to the right; and vice versa to the left. The reason your body should be rotated is so that your body is prepared to come back with a hard counter-punch. Rotating your body will also help you get out of the way of your opponent’s punch.

Hold your balance

Your feet should stay under you. If you’re going to slip and move at the same time, make sure your feet stay under you. If you’re going to stay in one place while slipping, avoid waving your upper body so far off to the side that you’re off balance. Many trainers will tell their fighters never to let the shoulders go past the knees. You won’t be able to counter-punch effectively if you’re falling off balance after slipping a punch.

Use your eyes

You should be able to see your opponent at all times. If you can’t see him while slipping, you will not be able to slip his next punch and you also won’t know what counter-punch to use. Make sure you keep your eyes on your opponent at all times. If you find yourself leaning over and unable to see what’s around you, you’re probably not slipping punches correctly.

Miss by an inch, not by a mile

When you slip a punch, make it so that your opponent barely misses you. This means you’ll have more time to focus on counter-punching instead of worrying about getting out of the way. It takes a lot of skill to be able to perform subtle slipping but it will take less less energy and allow you to slip faster combinations.

Stay on the outside of the punch

When slipping, you want to slip to the outside of the punch. For example, when when you slip a punch from the left arm, you would move your head to the right of it so that his left arm is blocking his right arm from hitting you. The right arm doesn’t immediately have a direct path to hit and you’re a little safer. Not just that but when his left arm is in the middle of a punch, it means his left side is open and you want to be on his left (your right) so that you can throw a punch to the left side of his head or body. Examples of this is slipping outside the right cross and countering with a left hook. Or vice versa, you slip outside the jab and counter with an overhand right.

In some scenarios, you may want to slip to the inside of a punch so that you can throw a counter-punch on the inside. Examples of this is slipping inside his left jab and throwing a counter left jab. Or maybe you’ll slip inside his right hand and throw a right uppercut.

Learn his pattern & Hide yours

Slipping is much easier when you know what your opponent is going to throw. Study him and see how he likes to follow his punches (your trainer can help you with this). Throw some feints and move in and out to test him. At the same time, you are hiding your pattern and staying unpredictable. Don’t keep slipping the same way each time or else he’ll anticipate and nail you with a big counterpunch.

Basic Slips

Slipping the jab or left cross

  • Pivot clockwise, bend your knees and dip your head down to the right just enough to clear the jab.
  • Come back with a right hand counter to the head or body.
  • Alternative: You can also just bend your knees and throw a jab to his body instead.

Slipping the right hand

  • Pivot counter-clockwise to the left, bend your knees, and dip your head down to clear the right hand.
  • Come back with a left hook to the head or body.
  • Alternative #1: You can also throw a right to his body as you’re slipping, followed up by a big left hook.
  • Alternative #2: You can also pull your head straight up allowing the right hand to pass under your chin and then throwing a counter right over the top.

Slipping a 1-2

  • Quickly bend your knees.
  • Pivot clockwise and shift your upper body right to evade the jab.
  • Reverse directions and pivot counter-clockwise quickly to evade the right cross.
  • Throw a left-hook counter followed by a right cross.

Slipping the hooks & uppercuts

  • Just pull your head back enough to clear the punch. (Don’t pull back so much that you leave yourself off balanced.)
  • You can throw a counter jab to push him away. (Works for both uppercuts and hooks.)
  • Alternative: You can also bend your knees and throw a counter left hook to his body as you do this. (For left hooks to the head only.)

Extra Notes

  • Shift your heels when you pivot back and forth, loading your counter-punches up as you slip.
  • Sometimes you will lower your gloves from your eyes to your cheeks so that your gloves don’t get hit as you’re slipping closely.
  • Keep your eyes on your opponent!
  • It helps to contract your stomach a little and exhale as though the slip is a punch. (This allows you to move more explosively.)

Building Slip Reflexes

Slipping is NOT a dance or choreographed series of moves. You don’t learn slipping by walking around slipping imaginary punches. You have to work the mits with someone and have them throw punches at you while you’re hitting the pads. Two other good pieces of boxing equipment to help you practice your slipping is the slip bag and the double-end bag. The double-end bag is VERY useful because it trains your eyes and body to punch a moving object and then quickly avoid getting hit by a moving object. The slip bag is also good for you to practice your slipping movement as you throw combinations into the air.

Building Slip Muscles

It’s common to see beginning boxers slip punches incorrectly because their body doesn’t yet have the muscles required to slip properly. Slipping requires mostly legs and abs. For building up proper leg muscles, make sure you do proper squats. A great exercise for this is to put an exercise ball up against the wall and put your back to it as you do squats. When doing squats, make sure you pull your butt straight to the ground instead of out to the rear (which means you’re just bending over and using your back). You want your weight centered to build the proper leg muscles. For abs, do your regular ab work but also focus on your obliques. These are the muscles on the very side of your ribs and abs and allow you to twist your upper body quickly.

What To Do After Slipping A Punch

“Make him miss, make him pay.”

An old adage many boxing trainers will tell you over and over!
When used properly, slipping is a defensive tactic used to counter-punch. Remember, the point of slipping is for you to put your opponent at a disadvantage and punish him with a counter-punch. Slipping a punch will free up your arms giving you a split-second chance to put yourself back on the offensive. The drawback to slipping punches is that it requires more energy than blocking and puts you at risk. If you’re not going to counter-punch and want to just stay on the defensive, then you better off just blocking the punch. Blocking a punch involves less energy, less skill, and less risk!

Always Come Back With Something

There is high risk to slipping punches and not retaliating. For one thing, your opponent is going to learn your pattern and ultimately catch you slipping. Another risk is that slipping will wear you out and your opponent can wear you down by making you move you entire body over and over even though he’s just throwing arm punches. Again if you’re going to slip a punch, come back with something – anything!

Conclusion

Slipping is an awesome skill to have in boxing. Aside from making you look cool, it’s quite useful in preserving your body and elevating your counter-punching skills to a whole new level. Beginners should expect to spend a lot of time and energy  practicing before it feels natural to use against boxers of equal skill. Remember to use your legs and always come back with counter-punches. I would recommend watching the many different boxers out there and study how they slip punches. Many of them will do unorthodox things and even break the guidelines I’ve mentioned to slipping. Every boxer has a different style that you can mimic and learn from. After you learn the rules to slipping, you can start experimenting and figuring out your own crafty ways to avoid punches. Now go out and have fun!
Check out my updated boxing guide: How to Slip Punches

26 Comments

Max May 21, 2010 at 3:51 am

Slipping = mad hard
Thanks for a great article. I’ve been boxing for a year. Slipping, like you said, is super hard. I still cannot react fast enough. Watching Mayweather is amazing. Google ‘Mayweather” and “defense.” Dude is slipping 3 and 4 punch combinations. Sweet.

Keep up good work!

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Gonzo March 19, 2011 at 3:16 pm

ducking inside
Which defense is most effective while ducking whenever one fights in the inside to avoid doing standing sit-ups; and/or, getting hit with hooks, upper cuts, and straights?

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Johnny N March 21, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Gonzo, I can’t tell you what defensive style is best to use. But here are some general tips: bend from the knees and not from the waist, try to be on the outside of punches as opposed to going under or inside. Keep your elbows down and tight on the inside. Also when you’re on the inside, don’t even bother trying to out-think your opponent. You should already have some combinations ready for use. The inside is not the perfect time to be thinking about what punches to throw next.

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Devon April 5, 2011 at 8:59 am

nice, but i have a question
Hey, ive been boxing for about 3 years now and this is a great article. One thing i have to ask you about is, I sometimes like to use footwork to hop out of range a punch and simultaneously parrying, then hopping back in and countering. I really only do this as a quick reaction thing, because if i dont see it, stepping out is natural, and helps me see better. I would just like to know your thoughts on this tactic, and if you have any ideas to save energy on it because it tires me out if i do it to much. Thank you.

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Johnny N April 11, 2011 at 9:22 am

@Devon – You have to learn how to move without lifting your hips. Watch some videos of Pacquiao when he shadowboxes. You will see him gliding around the ring without lifting his hips. This kind of footwork will be slow at first but once you get good at it, you can be very swift and use little energy. The reason why you don’t want to lift your hips is because it spends a lot of energy. Also if you’re going to jump back and forth, make sure your weight is evenly balanced. If the weight is too much on one leg, then you’re going to be throwing your body weight from leg to leg which tires you out faster.

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DKL May 8, 2011 at 6:12 am

Slipping a Punch
I was using a slip bag in my training routine recenlty almost religously. (I used an old sock with some rice in it.) I sparred a few rounds after I had used it one day. Mind you, I used it for about twenty minutes at a time, and threw combinations in between the slipping, like Mike Tyson used to. Anyway, it didn’t train me to react to a punch, or to know what a punch looks like when it is thrown. It trained/ingrained the movements in my muscle memory. During the sparring match, I got so into the moment, I put my hands down completly, and let this guy punch at me. The thing about it was is that I knew where he was going to punch, and was totally aware of what was going to happen. I was at the right distance, and just kept moving my head. He could’nt hit me. My eyes werent really focused on anything. My peripheral vision saw everything. I’m 6 foot 3, and 200 lbs. I’m a slow dude, but I couldn’t believe I did this.:P

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Johnny N May 12, 2011 at 10:33 am

@DKL – I’m seriously thinking of the rice in the bag thing you just mentioned. I really am. I’ve fooled around on the maize bag before but never really believed in it. If I ever write a guide on the maize bag, I owe that inspiration to you!

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DKL May 13, 2011 at 12:32 am

Inspiration
I just want to say that it really means something to me when a guy that barely knows anything like me has just inspired someone like you with your boxing IQ. Thanks man. But for real though, I felt like Roy Jones in there with that guy. Probably will never happen again, but you know what its like when your in the moment. You feel invincible almost. My trainer was saying “That aint nothin’. That aint nothin’” Funny thing about it though was that he WASN’T screaming “Put your hands up!” like they always do. He knew I knew what I was doing. All thanks to the slip bag..:D

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DKL May 13, 2011 at 12:39 am

one more thing…
Plus, I knew even if the guy hit me, It would just be a graving hit since my head was moving. You see Prince Naseem Hamed and Roy Jones get hit with punches with there hands down, but it’s never square, it looks like it hurts but it doesn’t. Also, they know the guy is punching cause there awareness is so high so, just like your article said, if you can see the punch coming, all it takes is a mili-second for you to be prepared to take the punch better. I’ve put my shell gaurd up before and run toward some punches before cause I’m just tired. They throw hard shots, but for some reason it just doesn’t hurt because I’m expecting it. I see it coming. OK… I’m finally done now. My bad for the soap box.

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J December 9, 2011 at 3:51 am

When slipping and throwing a combination does it have to be a fancy combination or could it be the old 1-2 or 1-2-3?

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Johnny N December 9, 2011 at 4:32 am

That’s up to you, J. Try everything, use what works and keep finding new things to try.

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J December 11, 2011 at 4:46 pm

ok. another thing id like to add is that tyson was amazing at slipping. which brings me to this question. Can any heavy weight get to Tyson’s speed or was tyson just a flat out freak of nature?

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Johnny N December 13, 2011 at 10:16 am

Tyson might be a freak of nature but there are many other fast heavyweights. Not all became as successful as Tyson.

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MalcomT February 15, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Hi, been boxing recreactinally for a few years and really enjoyed this article. Haven’t sparred for a while and this has reminded me how satisfying it is to slip and counter.

How about some suggestions for best slip/counter examples you’ve seen? Here’s one Ive always liked 5:08 minutes in. David Haye does a great slip of the jab and counter right hand. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8o9BDuteaw

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Johnny N February 16, 2012 at 12:07 pm

The best slipping I’ve ever seen… Pernell Whitaker, James Toney, Prince Naseem, Muhammad Ali, the list goes on..

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laurence sherrington December 5, 2012 at 2:27 pm

im a tall fighter and i , along with alot of other unexperianced tall fighters find headmovement hard like weaving a roling any tips

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Johnny N December 7, 2012 at 9:55 am

It’s a common problem for tall fighters. Their upper body is so long that it’s easy to come off balance. You’ll need a stronger core and legs. Also head movement has to do more with subtlety than it does with actual distance traveled by the head.

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me December 27, 2012 at 6:40 am

Im too tall to weave most ppl hooks, and it feels really awkward. can i just lean back for hooks and run away?

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Johnny N January 5, 2013 at 11:55 am

YES! Lean away; it’s a perfectly suited tactic used by many tall guys. You should still learn how to slip and duck and all that but if leaning away is the easiest, then use that. Your skills will grow with experience and present you with new opportunities over time.

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tako January 19, 2013 at 7:23 pm

Hey johnny, I was wondering how Juan Manuel Márquez is such a good counter puncher. How Does he do It?

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Johnny N January 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Probably lots of training from a good coach…and the discipline to keep it up over the years.

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Dmoney November 26, 2013 at 11:22 am

Is it possible to slip punches by side stepping Johnny.

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Johnny N December 4, 2013 at 9:47 am

Lateral movement can avoid punches but there are a few implications:

1. Moving away makes it harder for you to counter.
2. Using footwork is more tiring than head movement.
3. Footwork is also slower than head movement.

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hajime no ippo March 24, 2014 at 6:35 am

Good day.

Is there a recommended exercise for oblique muscles?

I’m doing side planks of 60 secs x 3 repeats. Is this ok? Or must i focus on any other exercises?

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Johnny N April 8, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Oh, there are plenty more exercises for the obliques. Doing trunk twists with a medicine ball and twisted crunches.

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