3 Principles That Make a World Class Fighter

There has been something I have been drilling into the students and fighters at Impact Boxing and my clients for the longest time. I believe them to be the 3 most imperative aspects of the sweet science that NEED to be mastered in order for one to consider themselves an expert of the sport. They are simple to explain, but incredibly hard to master and actively use in the squared circle. The following 3 principles build off each other and entirely integrate into the usage of more advanced techniques such as rhythmic timing, setup, and ring generalship.

1. Form

This obviously is a ginormous one when it comes to dominating a fight.

Form, in all aspects are essential to live up to the name of boxing, which is as follows:

Boxing is the art of hitting an opponent from the furthest distance away, exposing the least amount of your body, while getting into position to punch with maximal leverage and not get hit.
— Kenny Weldon

The mainstream definition is being able to hit and not get hit, I like Kenny Weldon's version more because of the emphasis it has on real power behind the punch and angles. The mainstream definition is really only for amateur boxing in my opinion. 

Form is the building block to everything. Proper form needs to be utilized in order to setup a win and decrease the risk of being embarrassed in front of a crowd. Plus it always looks clean and classy when you make it look easy. 

There are many things that fall under form. There are 6 basic punches, 10 functional punches, and over 25 different punches in total, each with their own mechanics and purpose. Once you add things like footwork, stances, and fighting styles, it becomes that much more apparent that form is what will keep your ship tight from allowing anything in. Just like battle ships, however, anytime you open up valves to bring out the cannons, holes are exposed in the ship, so decreasing the size of that hole is a must when on the attack, and that only comes through scrutinizing your form, over and over and over again. 

People often also get caught up in the art of punching, and forget about footwork. When it comes to footwork, form, is what will give you the balance you require to properly leverage your punches, shift your body weight and move your head to evade oncoming attacks. There are tons of types of footwork, to name a few, you have basic rhythms, steps, crossover steps, front pivots, back pivots, leaps, bumps, walks, diagonal steps, shuffles, Ali shuffles, pendulums, etc. The typical footwork that I see people limited to are steps, front pivots and shuffles. 

Mix footwork, punches, defence, head movement, stance, and fighting style together, and I think there will be more than enough things to work on for the next year....at least. 

2. Range

So, you have your form down when you throw your punches or move around the canvas? Great! Next thing to work on is going to be your range.

I have seen tons of people that know how to throw a good straight right in shadow boxing that ALWAYS smother that same right hand in sparring or just never land it, simply because they don't know what their passive or active range is for that right hand. Timing plays a much larger role when the target is active and moving around, like a double end bag, speed bag, heavy bag or a sparring partner. However, there are a lot of drills I put students through in order to learn the range associated with each of the respective punches in their arsenal for a still or moving target. 

If a fighter does not know the range for the punch they wish to throw, the chances of it landing are greatly affected. This is why the punch connect percentages of great fighters such as Floyd Mayweather Jr., Guillermo Rigondeaux, Thomas "Hitman" Hearns, etc. are so high, because not only can they see the openings, and time them, but they know the range from which they can land a punch to land with maximum leverage, or right at the END of the punch. 

I have written about this before, as my mentor, Louie Raposo always says, "What does the damage in a whip? The tip." If one were to whip you with the mid section of a towel, it won't hurt, right? It just lands with a thud, but if one can get the range down just right, that tip can leave a fantastic little welt and leave you running to mommy for your older bro to stop whipping you.

3. Direction / Angles

Form is down, we understand our range, and now it's our turn to be active in the ring. So, this principle right here is what I consider the basis for judging if someone is an elite fighter or not. The ability to throw all punches in any given direction or to create angles where you create opportunities to hit outside of your opponents range, or restrict what he can throw at you. 

Everyone enters the gym, expecting to be the attacker, but more often than not, people quickly become humbled when they first mix it up with someone else. Everyone can kind of figure out how to throw punches going forward and in the direction of their lead leg, but, the tall tale of a true, capable fighter, is if they can comfortably be on the attack in any direction. If they can fight equally well, moving backwards, as they can forwards, to their back leg as they can to their lead leg, in 2 dimensional directions, and in circles, then the fighter will have all the more advantage in controlling the fight the way they wish it to unravel.

For those that have watched the fights between Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez, the gap between all 3 principles was quickly made apparent, and Floyd completely embarrassed Canelo, another world champion in his own right. Guillermo Rigondeaux did the exact same thing against Nonito Donaire, a world champ and high level fighter. Muhammad Ali did the same to Sonny Liston as many of the legendary fighters do. 

The following is an excellent video about what I mean concerning all 3 principles, as demonstrated by Guillermo "El Chacal" Rigondeaux.


Hopefully this gives some direction as to what you should be working on, especially if you are just starting out! I myself typically start all of my rounds on the bags the same way, one round on form, then form and technique, then I jazz it up a bit and work direction and angles. It's a quick and sure way to continually polish up the basics before I get into the meat of my training. 

Shoot me an email if you have any questions, if you wish to do any online training or skype call. : JaredV@amplifiedathletics.ca 


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