If you’re new to throwing punches you may want to check out these articles first;
- Boxing for Newbies- The 2 Main Strikes
- Boxing for Newbies- How to Throw a Banging Left Hook
- 5 Fundamental Tips to Throwing a Devastating Knockout Punch
Fighters are noted for their excellent knockout punches. Something that is sometimes overlooked is the combination of punches or feints that set up the knockout. You will very rarely see a boxer throw a single punch in boxing.
2 and 3 punch combos are very common in boxing and mixed martial arts. The main reason fighters use combinations is to set the opponent up. If you can get the opponent moving in a particular direction away from a punch you can anticipate where their head will be for the follow-up punch to land.
Likewise, if you can get the opponent to drop their hands to protect their body, you can then follow up with a punch to hit their head. Boxing and mixed martial arts are thinking games. They are just as much mental as they are physical. Fighters have to be crafty and calculated.
Punching in combinations is something all fighters learn to do and if you’re new to boxing or mixed martial arts it’s something you should be doing.
“Be self-aware, not a repetitious robot”. Bruce Lee.
You shouldn’t be repetitive. If you repeat punches and combinations constantly in a fight, you will most likely find your ass on the grass. Repeating things makes it easy for the opponent to read and anticipate your next move. This enables them to prepare a counter combination ready to unload on you like finished laundry.
During combat, we should always look for patterns in the opponent. We should try to figure them out and take whatever they give us. Using feints and setting up the opponent is the way to go when seeking for the knockout.
The jab is an excellent distance measurer. It’s also a good tool for obstructing your opponent’s vision, allowing your follow-up punches to shock them like a lightning rod. For this reason, I’ve added the jab at the beginning of the combos.
Below is a list of 6 devastating boxing combinations that were commonly used by some of the greatest boxers of all time (in no particular order);
1. Sugar Ray Robinson vs Jean Stock;
Jab/Left Body Hook/Left Head Hook
New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer: Orlando Fernandez- Public Domain.
Sugar Ray Robinson was one of the greatest middleweight champions in history and he used this combination often. Robinson had 200 professional fights on record! Robinson was known for his brawler puncher style. In 1952, Robinson fought French opponent, Jean Stock. Robinson dropped Stock with this combo in the second round. Robinson then knocked Stock through the ropes with the same combo resulting in a T.K.O later on in the same round.
You will see many fighters using this combo for one reason, it works. The hook to the body will get the opponent thinking low. They may even drop their guard slightly to protect the lower half of the body. Immediately after, the follow-up left hook is thrown, hitting the opponent’s jaw like a bucket of cold water.
2. Muhammad Ali vs Zora Folley;
Jab/Right Cross/ Left Hook/Left Hook
Photo by Ira Rosenberg. Public Domain
Muhammad Ali is known to most as the G.O.A.T. He used this combination to K.O Zora Folley in 1967. This combination is very effective. The right cross is thrown to make the opponent close his guard and think about straight incoming punches.
Immediately after the left hook is thrown around the guard of the opponent, landing on the jaw. Ali threw 2 left hooks after the right cross. The hooks were thrown in different angles. The first one was more of a ‘hookercut’ style (the angle of the punch was a mix between an uppercut and a hook). This confuses the opponent and allows the punches to sneak around or under their guard.
3.Joe Louis vs James Braddock;
Jab/Left Body Hook/Overhand Right
Joe Lewis reigned as the heavyweight champion for 12 years! He was a great example of how the jab should be used. In 1937, Joe Lewis K.O’d James Braddock with this combination. The reason this combination is very useful is because its mix of high and low strikes. The left hook to the body can be a stopping punch all by itself but, followed up by an overhand right to the chin is devastating. The looping nature of the overhand right makes it an awkward punch to anticipate and usually results in a knockout when landed flush on the jaw.
4. Jack Dempsey vs Jess Willard;
Jab/Right Body Hook/Left Head Hook
This fight was known as the biggest beat down in boxing history. Jack Dempsey 187lbs beat Jess Willard 245lbs in the most brutal fashion. That day Dempsey was a roaring tornado ripping through an isolated farm house. Willard was left with a caved in cheek bone, broken nose, cracked ribs, and his eyes swollen shut. Willard lost his hearing in one ear and his heavyweight championship belt at that fight.
The right body hook/ left head hook combination sent the giant Willard crashing down to the canvas. The fight went on for three more rounds with Willard wobbling around the ring like jelly on a plate. The fight would have most certainly been stopped if it had taken place today.
The right hook in the combination takes the opponent’s attention away from the left side, allowing the a left hook to land on the jaw. This makes it a sneaky combination and it also enables a lot of torque generation. This combination was later used to great effect by ex-heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.
5. Rocky Marciano vs Joe Lewis;
Jab/Left uppercut/Right Cross
Postcard — Image by © Lake County Museum/CORBIS.
Rocky Marciano was the only ever undefeated heavyweight champion to date. His style was very gritty and he had a chin made of granite. His right hand was a hammer that nailed opponents to the canvas.
Towards the very end of Joe Louis’s career he fought Marciano. It was Louis’s last fight which resulted in Louis getting knocked out by Marciano.
Marciano hit Louis with a beautiful left uppercut followed by a right cross that knocked lewis through the ropes ending the bout. The left uppercut in this combo is used to lift the opponent’s chin up into the air. The right cross then hits the opponent square on the chin usually resulting in a knockout.
6. Mike Tyson vs Lorenzo Boyd;
Jab/Right Body Hook/Right Uppercut
Mike Tyson at SXSW 2011.
I had to put Iron Mike Tyson on this list. Mike Tyson was the most feared fighter in his day. He had 44 knockout’s on his record and they all came by express delivery. Mike Tyson became the youngest ever heavyweight champion at the age of 20, knocking out Trevor Berbick in just 5mins and 35seconds.
One of Tysons most favourite combinations was the right body hook/right uppercut. This combination turned Boyd’s lights off early in the bout as if he had school the next morning. Tyson regularly threw this combo from both sides (the left and right) in his fights.
By throwing the hook to the body Tyson would make his opponent bend forward, Tyson would then follow up with an uppercut straight through the middle smashing his opponents chin like a baseball.
These combos can be practised on a heavy bag or on boxing mitts. Don’t forget to mix them up by adding jabs and movement to your workout.
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