Learning how to close the distance on opponents is one of the fundamentals of boxing you need to master to succeed at the competitive level. Closing the distance in boxing is a lot more than it literally means. Merely closing the distance between your two bodies is never the goal in boxing; you want to close the distance and put yourself in a position to throw punches while limiting the options your opponent can counter with.
Learning how to close the distance becomes even more critical if you’re a shorter fighter who needs to get to inside range to land punches or a brawler who loves to fight up close. Intelligent boxers will try to keep you at the end of the range so they can attack you will little fear of you being able to counter them.
Fighters who are good at closing the distance inside the ring are typically more likely to impose their will on opponents. It also gives them a mental edge since opponents have trouble keeping them off. Forcing opponents to constantly try to create distance from you while denying them can be mentally and physically draining.
Popular Ways To Close The Distance In Boxing
You should never rush toward opponents to try and close the distance since that opens you up to their most devastating punches. The forward momentum of you moving towards an opponent multiplies the force the punch lands with.
Manny Pacquaio’s fourth fight against Juan Manuel Marquez is an excellent example of this reality. Manny got careless during the sixth round and lunged toward Marquez in an attempt to close the distance. He ended up running into a cross that left him unconscious for minutes. He would likely have shaken off the same punch if he didn’t run into it.
You’ll need to stick to boxing fundamentals when moving toward an opponent, like keeping your hands up and using head movement. You also want to keep your movements controlled at all times.
Now that we’ve gone over the basics let’s look at some of the popular ways boxers close the distance on their opponents.
1) Cutting Off The Ring
Cutting off the ring is an effective way to herd your opponent into a corner and force them to engage with you at a close distance. The key to cutting off the ring is not directly chasing your opponent by moving toward them. Instead, move laterally in the same direction your opponent is moving. If your opponent moves toward your left, move towards your left and keep them in front of you.
Consistently cutting off your opponent limits how they can move, allowing you to keep them at a range you can work from. Techniques like the D’Amato shift can be helpful when cutting off the ring and leave you in a position to throw hard punches.
2) Distract With Punches
Another effective way to close distance inside the ring is by distracting your opponent with punches while inching toward them with your feet. Straight punches are best for this since they are the safest punches in your arsenal, and they prevent your opponent from seeing what your feet are doing.
Throw your favorite combinations at your opponent and take small steps toward them as you throw. Remember to cut off the ring if your opponent tries to move laterally and keep them in front of you. Keep your hands up and constantly move your head off the centerline to evade incoming punches.
3) Walking In
Fighters like Mike Tyson fearlessly walked down opponents using a mix of head movement, a high guard, and powerful counters. Tyson was trained in the peek-a-boo style, which is excellent for shorter fighters looking to close the distance on opponents.
Tyson’s masterful understanding of distance inside the ring made him exceptionally at simply walking opponents down to get on the inside. He would typically start with the trademark high guard of the peek-a-boo style as he walked into his opponent’s punching range. He would then bob and weave as he moved closer to his opponent with both hands loaded up and ready to unleash powerful punches. A hard counter would quickly follow if an opponent tried to get him off with punches. He would keep this up until he was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with his opponents.
You need to have excellent head movement, hand speed, and power to effectively walk opponents down as Tyson did. Your opponent has to be terrified of the possibility of you throwing a counter, or they’ll bombard you with punches once you’re inside their range.
The stance switch is another effective way to close distance on opponents without them even realizing what you’re doing. It’s a practice that is no longer as common these days, but it’s still an effective way to get on the inside.
It involves doing precisely what the name implies. You switch stances and use your switches to move closer to your opponent. Here’s what the technique looks like:
- Start the switch by pushing yourself forward with your rear foot while bringing your lead leg back, so it becomes your rear leg. That puts you a couple of feet closer to your opponent and leaves you in a southpaw stance.
- You can gain more distance on your opponent by performing a stance switch to end up back in an orthodox stance. It’s the same mechanics used when switching from orthodox to southpaw.
The key to effectively closing the distance with switching is being comfortable fighting out of both stances. That way, if you end up in the opposite stance to your natural stance when you’re finally close enough to hit your opponent, you are comfortable punching and defending from there. Remember, if you’ve successfully closed the distance on an opponent, you’ve also put yourself in their punching range. Keep that in mind as you inch closer to your opponent, and remember to keep your hands up and use head movement.
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