Monday night’s final lesson was my class with Athena School of Karate where I continued my boxing programme. Tonight the uppercut came under the spotlight. Along with the cross/straight right, this is considered to be a true power punch. There have been many famous knockouts achieved using the uppercut, but there are few real masters of this particular punch and even fewer in modern boxing due to the current trend in outside fighting. The uppercut requires toe-to-toe range to be effective. It is has a comparitively smaller number of variations than the other three main punches.
True uppercuts are thrown with a vertical forearm and a supinated fist, hitting its target, typically the chin but also the solar plexus. Force is driven up from the feet into the hips where the fighter twists to generate power up and out through the shoulder and along the arm.
We trained the uppercut as single techniques and then in combinations, drawing inspiration from some great fighters in boxing history.
Lead uppercuts – Roy Jones Jnr and Chris Eubank Snr come to mind when I think of strong lead uppercuts. Many top coaches advise that this punch should not be thrown at the beginning of a combination. There is a good reason for that. Even with a tight guard, the uppercut momentarily leaves an impossible to defend gap when it is launched. Therefore, unless you are someone like Roy Jones Jnr it is better to chain your lead uppercut to other punches. Having said that, we had some fun using one of Roy Jone’s daring combinations.
Rear uppercuts – Robert Duran and many other fighters typically set this up with a jab. Kid Gavilan is my choice for a great example of this punch. The “Cuban Hawk” threw his rear uppercuts as a bolo punch hacking in an upward arc once he had secured his target with the jab. However, Lennox Lewis – that technical marvel I gave the jab to and also had a rear straight from Hell – also had a thunderous and devastating rear uppercut. Having said all this, the exception here has to be Jersey Joe Walcott’s single rear uppercut that knocked out Ezzard Charles in their fifth encounter. Both men straddle the eras of greats from Joe Louis to Rocky Marciano and were exceptional fighters in their own right having already beat each other twice before this deciding bout. Walcott’s uppercut is often considered one of the greatest in boxing history.
Short uppercut – Thrown to either the chin or solar plexus, this punch was famously used by George Foreman and understandably requires the fighter to be in very close.
Mike Tyson’s uppercut is often referred to as a great example of a powerful right uppercut. Technically Tyson’s power punch did some from his right but he gave an interesting variation. He stepped off on a tight angle, often switching to southpaw as he hit with a right hook to the body and then sent his right uppercut through his opponent’s guard to the chin. Typically Tyson’s uppercut was thrown using what is sometimes referred to as the Fitzsimmons shift, named after Bob Fitzsimmons. It’s a move I will revisit in my teacher consultancy tomorrow. Moving back to Tyson and it is perhaps poetic that he would lose his first fight to an uppercut. James “Buster” Douglas’s rear hand uppercut was sandwiched between a series of pummelling jabs and a left hook/right hook/left hook combination. The uppercut without doubt was responsible for causing all the damage.