Tonight’s lesson brought my client up to the seven and a half hour mark in his 10 hour course on Basic Western Boxing for Martial Arts Cross Training. After revision we looked up and under punches – namely the lead hand anchor punch (made famous by Muhammad Ali and Jack Johnson), the rear overhand (David Tua, Ernie Shavers and MMA’s favourite knockout punch) and the liver and spleen shots (so beloved of Ricky Hatton and Bas Rutten). These punches are hybrids of the four classic punches. They have been refined through gloved modern western boxing, but have become very popular in mixed martial arts. This might be down to the fact that they have been adapted to go around the arms and therefore work great in the clinch or grounded positions.
After a warm-up on agility markers, mirrored footwork and upper body evasion techniques we went to the focus mitts for revision. Here trained everything up to the six punch combination and then built this up to the 11 punch combination. The 11 punch combination helps build speed and transitioning. Then we went back to mirror footwork and we looked at some simple tactics. The reason for doing is because we can see how the four over and under punches evolved as boxing’s defence improved over the 20th century. Boxers developed them in response to the increasing demands of the boxing game. This is particularly true with the overhand and anchor punches. It is possible to throw them off a basic guard cold, but they are usually thrown as part of a set up or as a counter-punch.
In order to understand the best situations to use the four punches we did some more upper body mobility/footwork exercises. Here my client understood how to draw out an opponent, cut off an opponent, angle off an opponent and also how to move from his eye-line.
We began with the overhand because it is the most instinctively easy to learn of the four punches. The punch works well off a slip and also after immediately dropping from an opponent’s eye-line. Next we worked the anchor punch. This is the jab “phantom punch” Ali credited Jack Johnson with after he knocked out Sonny Liston in their second match. Using Ali’s tactic and the one seen a lot in MMA today, we covered the tactic of drawing the opponent onto the punch, using provocation and baiting movements. The liver and spleen punches were taught by means of angled foot work and feigning in the opposite direction to open an opponent’s mid-section up. We then coupled this with high punches, bobbing and weaving.