The Rear Hand Straight/Cross is Important (diary entry)

downward cross08.03.21

My second lesson of this course on Boxing for Athena School of Karate focused on the rear straight and the cross.  We discussed the difference between throwing a rear straight, commonly referred to as a straight right, and a cross. Rear straights are thrown directly at the centre line of the opponent whereas the cross is thrown across the centre line. I decided to cover the following examples of these punches:

Rear straights and crosses were best exemplified by Lennox Lewis and Joe Louis. Of the two, Lennox Lewis’s was surprisingly the more traditional given that Joe Louis is often regarded as text-book perfect. Joe Louis actually took a surprising number of risks when he dropped his powerful right hand. Lennox Lewis’s threw picture perfect rear hand straights and crosses, but equally had an great overhand. Muhammad Ali famously used five “lead hand straights” in his world heavyweight championship match against George Foreman. These were actually rear straights fired as single shots that served to enrage his opponent as they demonstrated Ali not needing to use a jab to set them up (the author Norman Mailer explains it at the 3:03 mark in this excerpt from “When We Were Kings”). Nowadays the rear straight or the cross is regularly used at the start of combinations.

Archie Moore provides us with a great tactic to use the cross as a counter-punch to a cross or straight. He used his crossed guard defence and deflected the incoming punch with a shoulder roll, immediately using the momentum to send his own cross back to the opponent.

Thomas Hearn’s chopping cross was really inspired by his height after setting up with the flicker jab or the pawing jab.

The body cross can be a powerful punch that winds an opponent. It is the perfect weapon for the solar plexus and be used to bring the head down.

Roberto Duran is normally my go to fighter for in-fighting and clinching tactics in boxing, but there is no disputing his mastery of the short right which he used to finish a number of his opponents. The punch breaks the main rules for these techniques in that you flare your elbow to execute it.

The overhand technically works as an extension of the short right, but it is thrown from a greater distance. Rocky Marciano’s “Sweet Suzie Q” is my personal choice as the spotlighted boxer for this one and I have always enjoyed watching how he executed this particular punch.

Prior to revising all these punching variations, I went through the use of a jabbing cross/rear straight. Just as the jab might be turned into a power punch so the cross might be used like a jab if the fighter has the right positioning. In this instance we looked at matters from a southpaw stance or against a southpaw. This involves stepping to the outside of an opponent’s lead foot and getting closer to lead with the rear hand crosses or straights, setting up angled shots from the outside with the lead hand.

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