Different types of boxing punches: A guide to mastering boxing punches

Different types of boxing punches: A guide to mastering boxing punches

Kevin Omuya
May 31, 2023 at 10:02 AM

Combat sports like boxing call for agility, quickness, and technique. Understanding the various punch types is one of the basics of boxing. The main offensive tactic utilised in the boxing sport is boxing punches. They entail using a closed fist to strike an opponent to either score points or knock them out.

Boxing types and punches
Different types of boxing punches and how to master them. Photo: Ray Massey
Source: Getty Images

Before delving into the specific types of boxing punches, it is essential to grasp the basics. Each point is executed with a different purpose and can be used strategically during a fight. These punches can be combined quickly to form devastating combinations, enabling boxers to land effective blows while maintaining defensive tactics.

Boxing punches chart

1-10 advanced boxing punches
Male boxer punching a heavy bag in the gym. Thomas Barwick
Source: Getty Images

Below is a simplified chart illustrating the basic punches with numbers. This chart represents the basic throws, with numerous variations, combinations, and advances beyond these eight. The chart serves as a starting point to understand the fundamental forces in boxing.

  1. Jab - Lead hand straight
  2. Cross - Rear hand straight
  3. Lead Hook - Lead hand circular targeting the side of the opponent's head or body
  4. Rear Hook - Rear hand circular targeting the side of the opponent's head or body
  5. Lead Uppercut - Lead hand upward, targeting the opponent's chin or body
  6. Rear Uppercut - Rear hand upward, targeting the opponent's chin or body
  7. Lead Overhand - Lead hand looping thrown from an angle over the opponent's guard
  8. Rear Overhand - Rear hand looping thrown from an angle over the opponent's guard

What are the eight boxing punches?

What are the eight boxing punches?
A female boxer is training with a punching bag in the gym. Photo: SolStock
Source: Getty Images

Now that we have covered the basic punches, let us delve into more advanced boxing punches beyond the fundamental eight. While there are countless variations and combinations, here are the ten best boxing punches that can enhance a boxer's arsenal:

  1. Jab: The jab is a quick and straight punch thrown with the lead hand (non-dominant hand). It is both an offensive and defensive tool, allowing the boxer to establish distance and set up combinations.
  2. Cross: Also known as the straight right (for orthodox stance) or straight left (for southpaw stance), the cross is a powerful throw with the rear hand. It follows a straight line and generates significant force from the hips and rotation of the torso.
  3. Hook: Hooks are circular punches thrown with a bent arm. There are two hooks: the lead hook and the rear hook. The lead hook is thrown with the lead hand in a sweeping motion, targeting the opponent's side of the face or body. The rear hook is thrown with the back arrow, utilising rotational power.
  4. Uppercut: Uppercuts are punches delivered upward, targeting the opponent's chin or body. They are thrown from a crouched position and generate power from the legs and core muscles.
  5. Overhand: The overhand punch is a looping throw from an angle, usually over the opponent's guard. It aims to strike the top of the opponent's head or the side of the face with significant force.
  6. Slip: Although not a punch, the slip is a defensive movement where the boxer quickly moves their head to either side to avoid incoming energy. It is essential to evade forces while maintaining balance and positioning for counterattacks.
  7. Duck: Similar to the slip, the duck is a defensive manoeuvre where the boxer bends their knees to lower their head, avoiding punches aimed at the upper body. Ducks are commonly used against hooks and overhand punches.
  8. Weave: The weave is another defensive technique that involves moving the upper body from side to side in a weaving motion to evade punches. It is particularly effective against straight forces like jabs and crosses.

Advanced boxing punches

Advanced boxing punches
Two men, training in the gym, boxing exercise. Photo: Photo_agency
Source: Getty Images

In addition to the basic punches, there are advanced techniques that skilled boxers employ. While these ten boxing punches may require more practice and experience, they can significantly enhance a boxer's arsenal. Here are 1-10 advanced boxing punches;

  1. Liver Shot: A powerful throw directed at the opponent's liver can cause immense pain and disrupt their balance.
  2. Superman: This involves leaping forward with a lead leg kick, followed by a lead hand punch, catching the opponent off guard.
  3. Rolling Thunder: A spinning back fist throw executed circularly to surprise the opponent.
  4. Check Hook: A hook is thrown while simultaneously moving backwards or sideways, exploiting the opponent's forward momentum.
  5. Shovel Hook: This is thrown upward and inward, targeting the opponent's chin or solar plexus.
  6. Bolo: A loop thrown in a circular motion, often intended to distract or confuse the opponent.
  7. Corkscrew: A throw that combines a vertical uppercut motion with a twisting action, making it difficult to defend against.
  8. Double Jab: Executing two consecutive jabs quickly disrupts the opponent's rhythm and sets up other throws.
  9. Triple Hook: A combination of three hook punches, typically rapidly targeting the head and body.
  10. Spinning Backfist: A strike delivered by spinning the body and striking with the back of the hand, often catching the opponent off guard.

How to throw boxing punches

How to throw boxing punches
Young man boxing at the punching bag. Photo: San_njeri
Source: Getty Images

To throw effective boxing punches, you must focus on proper technique, coordination, and generating power from your body. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to throw boxing punches:

  1. Stance: Start with a proper boxing stance. Stand shoulder-width apart, one foot slightly ahead of the other. Keep your knees slightly bent and your weight distributed evenly between both legs. Maintain a relaxed posture with your hands up, guarding your face.
  2. Hand Position: Your lead hand (non-dominant hand) should be slightly ahead and closer to your opponent, while your rear hand (dominant hand) should be positioned slightly behind and closer to your chin. Keep your fists clenched but relaxed, with your thumbs outside the fists.
  3. Jab: To throw a jab, extend your lead hand forward in a straight line while rotating your shoulder and pivoting your lead foot slightly. Keep your elbow close to your body during the punch and bring it back quickly to your guard position.
  4. Cross: For a cross, rotate your hips and pivot your rear foot as you extend your rear hand straight towards the target. Twist your torso and transfer your weight from the back foot to the front foot, generating power in the punch. Bring back your rear hand to the guard position swiftly.
  5. Hooks: To throw a hook, pivot your lead foot and rotate your hips as you bend your elbow and swing your lead hand in a circular motion. Aim to connect with the side of your opponent's head or body. Maintain a proper guard with your other hand during the punch and return it quickly to the guard position.
  6. Uppercuts: Bend your knees slightly and explode upward from the legs and hips for an uppercut. As you rise, deliver an upward punch with either hand, targeting the opponent's chin or body. Ensure your elbow is tucked in and your other hand remains defensive.
  7. Defense: Remember that boxing is not just about throwing punches but also about defensive manoeuvres. Practice slipping, ducking, and weaving to avoid incoming energies. Move your head and upper body, using footwork to create angles and evade your opponent's attacks.
  8. Combinations: Once you feel comfortable with individual punches, practice combining them into fluid combinations. For example, a common variety is jab-cross-hook, where you start with a jab, follow up with a cross, and finish with a hook. Work on your timing, speed, and accuracy to make your combinations effective.
  9. Practice and Conditioning: Regular practice is crucial for improving your boxing punches. Shadowboxing, heavy bag training, and sparring are great ways to refine your technique, increase speed, and develop power. Also, could you focus on conditioning exercises to strengthen your core, arms, and shoulders, which are essential for generating force in your punches?

Remember, mastering boxing punches takes time, dedication, and guidance from a qualified boxing coach. Ensure you warm up before training, maintain proper form, and prioritise safety during practice sessions. With consistent effort and a focus on technique, you can gradually improve your boxing punches and become a more skilled boxer.

A quick combination of boxing punches

Quick combination of boxing punches
Two Caucasian Boxers Sparring in a Boxing Gym. Photo: Chansatr
Source: Getty Images

A quick combination of boxing punches is a rapid series of punches to overcome opponents' defences and create scoring opportunities. Here's an example of a typical short variety:

  1. Jab (1): Start with a quick and snappy jab, using your lead hand to disrupt the opponent's focus and establish distance.
  2. Cross (2): Immediately follow up the jab with a powerful cross using your rear hand. Rotate your hips and pivot your back foot to generate maximum power in the punch.
  3. Lead Hook (3): Swiftly transition from the cross to a lead hook, utilising your lead hand. Pivot your lead foot and rotate your hips as you throw the hook, aiming for the side of the opponent's head or body.
  4. Cross (2): Complete the combination by returning with another cross using your rear hand. It should be thrown with speed and accuracy.

What is the most brutal punch you can throw?

Just as the overhand is superior to the cross, so is it superior to the back fist. From this, it follows that stepping overhand is the most devastating punch.

Are there illegal punches in boxing?

Head, shoulder, forearm, and elbow strikes are all out. You are not allowed to bump against someone whose glove is open, the inside of their glove, wrist, backhand, or side of their hand. You're not allowed to target your opponent's kidneys, back, or back of the head and neck (the "rabbit punch").

Remember, the key to executing a quick combination effectively lies in proper technique, coordination, and fluidity. Practice these combinations on a punching bag or during sparring sessions to enhance speed, timing, and accuracy. Maintaining good defensive positioning and footwork throughout the mix is crucial to protect yourself from counterattacks.

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Kevin Omuya
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