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INSTA SPARRING, DEALING WITH RED SHORTS

In a previous post, we looked at a boxing exchange between to fighters, with one of the fighters getting the better of the other. If I were being less polite, I’d say that red shorts dominated blue shirt. And if it were an amateur bout, based on that exchange alone, it would be close to being a referee stoppage. At least 2 standing 8 counts would have been appropriate.

https://fightstudies.com/2022/01/15/insta-sparring-exchange/

Sometimes, when watching fights in person, people might ask me how would I plan for a certain fighter. Again, this is amateur boxing. At amateur fights, I usually scout to check out potential opponents that we will meet in the significant tournament. Sometimes, when you see a pretty big mismatch, I’d be inclined to say that “my strategy here, would be to not take the fight because this guy can’t handle the other guy.”

Because you can have a good strategy in theory, but if your guy can’t execute it with a good probability of success, then its not really going to work. If execution has to be perfect for the strategy to work, then we have a long (or short) night ahead of us. I like having some margin of acceptable error.

With that in mind, how do we handle red shorts?

As I mentioned before, from the brief video, he looks to be a slugger. Not a wild slugger, but he looks to be trying to land power punches almost every time. He doesn’t look like an in-fighter, but he does flirt with the inside range since we can define the inside range where you can land hooks. He doesn’t really step with his punches; he looks like a mid-range guy that throws long hooks when closing in.

It seems that he favors a 1-2 (cross) combination. Note this differs from a 1-2 (straight). His balance stays pretty good after the cross, so you wouldn’t expect him to be vulnerable from being off balance after the 2. However, his defense tends to be sloppy as he punches, and just after he punches. These seem to be openings to attack.

We can’t tell how good his defense is here. But let’s presume that prior to a punching exchange, his first defensive sequence will be good. He will be able to defend against the first wave of attack. I infer this from the crispness of his 1-2 (cross) and his good balance after the 2.

With that said, now what? Let’s box him. Circular movement and on the bicycle. Show him the jab. Touch his guard with the jab. We don’t need to move fast, but we’d like to be consistent in the movement. He’s going to come to us, so we don’t need to get into range. Let’s try to not let him plant his feet. Punchers like this need to plant their feet to get power.

He likes to throw the 1-2 combination, so we need to disrupt that. Preferably, we can parry his jab, and jab with him. Gonna need to keep that left ear tucked behind shoulder as we jab, because the cross will be coming in hot. We have a few targets to jab at: 1) the face, 2) the chest, 3) the throat, 4) the right shoulder. We prefer the face, but he might have good head movement, so we can target the parts that don’t move as much. When we jab, we might need to stick the jab–meaning, not to retract it back to guard. Might need to use the jab as like a stop hit. If needed, we can use the inside guard also known as the leverage guard. Either way, our ear will be behind the shoulder defending against the cross.

When we start to get his timing down, maybe mid-way through the 2nd round, we can start adding the left hook as part of the attack and counter-attack.

If that fails, we might need to go into the eye of the storm. But that’s for another day.

In summary, we’re not going to stand in front of him. We’re going to be a moving target. Circle left. Circle right. Backpedal. Step around. Pivot. Stutter step. Doesn’t need to be fast–just constant, with syncopation. We’re going to show him the jab, and touch his guard with the jab to occupy his mind and to satisfy the judges. When he starts throwing, we’re going to time him with counter punches. We can also return counters, after he throws the 2. Take the rounds.

A BROAD OVERVIEW

Styles make fights. That’s what they say. I would agree. Styles make fights, but what are the styles that make the fights? Generally speaking, it seems to me that there are 3 primary styles in boxing. Some have said there are just 2 styles. But, I’ve seen 3 with some variations or combinations.

To me the 3 primary styles in fighting are: 1) boxing, 2) pressure-fighting, and 3) slugging (or power punching). Other variant styles would be boxer-punchers, counter-puncher, southpaw, in-fighter, swarmer, brawler, and others that I’m probably leaving out.

In addition the styles of fighting, I think that range is important also in trying to game plan or analyze a fight. The ranges I perceive are: outside (or long range–in some older books–they call this out-boxing), mid-range, inside, head to head, shoulder to shoulder, and out of range. I think most people would consider outside and mid-range to be “boxing” range. To me, these are all boxing ranges. In strategy, range can be a factor. For example there might be a fighter that likes to bring pressure, but they are mid-range pressure fighters. Mid-range is typically straight punching. Inside is hooking range. Outside, they gotta step with their punches.

However, in communicating with a fighter, indeed, if I were to say “box,” I would mean outside and mid-range. If I said to “fight,” I would mean mid-range with forward advancing, or get inside (which includes inside, head to head, and shoulder to shoulder). Boxing, therefore, in this context means to stay outside or out of range. Fighting means to go forward, bring pressure (soft or hard), and throw a volume punches.

Beginning fighters tend to only fight with one style and with one range. As fighters improve they can fight with different styles and different ranges. Examples of fighters capable of this–Andre Ward or Floyd Mayweather or Sugar Ray Robinson.

The reason that they say styles make fights is that a style match up can determine who has the strategic advantage in a fight, and thus can determine the fight. Roughly speaking, if boxing were like the game rock/paper/scissors, the styles of boxing/pressure-fighting/slugging would correspond. All things being equal: boxing beats slugging, pressure beats boxing, and slugging beats pressure.

These stylistic match ups and their outcomes, is how I would figure if a fighter is a great boxer, pressure fighter, or slugger. If a boxer can beat a pressure fighter, they are a great boxer. If a pressure fighter can beat a slugger, they are a great pressure fighter. If a slugger can be a boxer, they are a great slugger. In reality, as fighters get more experienced, they can often execute more than one style.

In the amateurs, pressure fighting is the style you will see the most in the novice and sub-novice classes. Novice being under 10 fights. Sub-novice being under 5. There is some attempts at boxing in these classes, but usually fighters are not experienced enough to move away from the pressure. As you reach the open or elite class, boxing abilities have emerged and fighters can now neutralize the pressure fighters. There are sluggers in the amateurs but boxers and pressure fighters are more common.

In the early pros, boxers start to become boxer-punchers, pressure fighters get better at being pressure fighters, and there are more sluggers around. More counter-punchers start to emerge also.

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So when I look at a fighter, I will try to determine what their primary style is. If I were to coach against that fighter, I would start to consider what style would work best and if my fighter can execute that strategy because a strategy that cannot be executed is a bad strategy. If I have more time, I would start to look at the idiosyncrasies of the athlete and see if there are any obvious weaknesses to attack.

Ultimately, strategy in competition is to take away your opponent’s strength and also attack their weakness. If you are much better, you don’t really need strategy; you just need to execute your offense and defense. A challenging environment requires strategic thinking.