Publish Date: 08/11/2018
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
How to throw (AND LAND) body punches with devastating effect!
Body punches are one of the deadliest weapons in boxing, and yet they’re still under-utilized by even top pros in the game today. You would think every fighter would add soul-snatching body punches into their game but very few ever do.
Why is that?
It’s because body shots are tricky as hell to throw. You need incredible timing just to land the shot, and then there’s all this stress about not getting hit in the face when you lower your hands. It always feels like a risky exchange and for that reason, most fighters just “play it safe” by sticking to head shots.
Today, we will focus on the timing you need to LAND crippling body shots!
Growing up on head shots
Growing up, I never dreamt of body punching. I didn’t see them glorified in movies and they weren’t shown as much in boxing highlight reels either. Everything was about flashy knockouts off the head. Head shots seemed to be the one and only way to destroy an opponent quickly.
“The chin was the bullseye of the human body.”
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. Most people aren’t able to see body punches. They don’t see the setup, they sometimes don’t even see the shot. Unlike Tyson leaping across the ring with neck-snapping head shots, body shot knockouts just look like a guy getting stomach cramps.
Body shots are not easy and clear to see! Much of the time, the body shots you DO see are on a losing opponent getting battered along the ropes. These videos make body shots look more like finishing punches rather than strategic punches. It’s no wonder so many fighters misunderstand body punches.
My first gym was a rough-and-tough Mexican gym with all the trademark Mexican boxing qualities—hard sparring, fierce exchanges, and yes—LOTS of body punches!
The moment I actually started sparring, the allure of the head shot almost disappeared for me. In an actual gym against trained opponents, you’d have to land at least 50 solid head shots before there’d be any chance of a knockdown let alone a knockout. Whatever fantasy you have of being the next Mike Tyson quickly goes out the window in the real world.
Wearing headgear, head shots don’t do the same damage like in the movies. Head shots also don’t work so well on Mexicans. Mexicans have granite chins and fantastic head movement (despite what their stereotypes may claim). They fight more in the pocket than anybody else, and exchange punches willingly (almost addicted-ly).
I got paired up with a fighter named Rigo one day. Some Mexican kid who looked like a nerd with his glasses on but transformed into a calculated killer when he took them off. As with many opponents I had to face in that gym, he was bigger and more trained. I had speed, power, and newb courage.
I went right at him in the first round landing a few flush head shots. It seemed my speed was overwhelming him as he backed slowly into the corner. Right when his back touched the ropes, the trap was set off. But it was HIS trap and not mine. As I ran in for the kill shot, he deftly leaned back and came back with a huge right hand counter to my face.
Oh, but I had a chin! I took the shot no problem. If anything, it only made me smarter and more emboldened to reach him on the next try. Nothing to fear, I thought. I feinted a few times and lunged in again. This time, he dipped under and threw a hard right into my stomach.
I took this shot ok, too. I didn’t keel over or roll on the ground like I was on fire. I stayed standing, but the shot made me pause to think about my stomach. My mind started doubting itself and for just a split second, I was tamed. I stopped wanting to run in on him. I started giving him space and whenever he attacked, I got careful. By the 3rd round, I had completely lost control of the fight and eating dozens of shots to the head and body mostly because I was still cautious of that early body shot.
I didn’t know it at the time but I was lucky to stay standing for my first hard body shot. Most of my friends recalled their first body shots as embarrassing knockouts. There’s the impact, the loss of breath, massive internal pain, and the familiar 5-minute fire drill on the canvas.
That’s the unseen magic of the body shot! They are demoralizing, crippling, and sometimes lead to easier knockouts than head punches.
And lastly, I learned to box in a predominantly Mexican gym, where you witness very quickly how important body punching is. Everybody knew body punching paid off in boxing. Even if you don’t get the liver shot knockout, body punches still bring results. They cripple your opponent, slowing his legs, and taking power off his punches.
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