Dirty boxing, it’s a grey area in the art of pugilism. At one end of the spectrum, some techniques are clearly illegal. On the other end, the most intelligent fighters find a way to utilize dirty boxing tactics without getting so much as penalized a single point.
From sticking forearms and elbows in an opponent’s face, to throwing punches in the clinch, dirty boxing isn’t used so much as to hurt or damage an opponent, but more so to frustrate them and throw them off their game.
Great fighters from Muhammad Ali and Wladimir Klitschko, to Bernard Hopkins and Floyd Mayweather Jr., have incorporated dirty boxing techniques into their own distinct fighting styles. It’s without a doubt an effective strategy, if used in the proper manner.
In boxing, you can fight by the book and keep it clean. But that won’t stop your opponents from bending the rules without actually breaking them. Equip yourself with the power and the knowledge of dirty boxing techniques so you can either incorporate them into your game or identify tendencies to effectively defend against them.
Today, Evolve Daily shares six dirty boxing techniques to frustrate your opponent.
1) Body Shots In The Clinch
While you’re unlikely to score a knockout in the clinch by attacking the head, you could do a lot of damage with body shots. Dirty boxing is an effective tactic, and is quite common in competitive boxing, particularly in the professional ranks.
Throwing body punches in the clinch while you have your opponent’s arms tied up is a great way to get some free shots in. They will have a hard time defending, and you can put together two or three shots before the referee steps in to break it apart.
Digging constantly to the kidneys and the liver will sap the energy from your opponents. While these single shots don’t really do much individually, the accumulation of shots should have an increasing effect as the fight progresses.
Stamina is a huge part of fighting. One surefire way to drain an opponent’s stamina is by using leverage in the clinch. Drape your body over your opponent, using your arms and gloves to lace around his body and force him to carry your weight.
The more your opponent tries to wiggle his arms loose, the tighter you have to hold. It won’t only be difficult for him to break free, but also immensely draining. It’s like swimming in quicksand, with a straitjacket on. Do it often enough and early enough, and your opponent will have nothing left by mid-fight.
This technique is called smothering, and it’s an amazing way to quickly and effectively suck the life out of your opponent without even throwing a punch.
3) Tie Up The Arms
Some opponents are very aggressive and like to throw punches in bunches. This is where clinching can become tremendously effective. By tying up an opponent’s arms while he’s throwing a combination, you effectively neutralize that attack. Furthermore, you’re able to frustrate your opponent constantly.
Clinching to cause a break or pause in the action is a common grey-area defensive tactic used by a lot of sneaky fighters, even in the elite ranks. In some cases, this is actually part of their staple strategy.
Fighters like Ricky Hatton, Lennox Lewis, and Bernard Hopkins loved to tie up their opponents’ arms and disrupt their offense.
Not only is it frustrating, but it also forces opponents to act out on that frustration and open themselves up to making crucial mistakes.
4) Punch Into The Clinch
Sometimes, it’s difficult to initiate a clinch, especially when you do it so often. Opponents will make adjustments, and as soon as they see you moving in for the clinch, they will circle away and keep the fight at the center of the ring. One way to change things up, however, is by using your offense to transition into a clinch.
After throwing a straight punch, follow through right into the clinch. Your forward momentum will be enough to bring you in close quarters, and all that’s left would be to tie your opponent up. You can also try to initiate the clinch after a combination.
5) Forearm Block
Another sneaky but common dirty boxing tactic is using the forearms.
You’re not the only one who will go in for the clinch. Many times, your opponent will do the same. But once you’re tied up, you may want to refrain from trying to break free with your arms. In order to save on energy, there’s another way.
While you can’t throw a forearm strike outright (which will no doubt get you disqualified quickly), you can stick your forearm into an opponent’s face in the clinch and use that to push away. It doesn’t do any damage or harm to your opponent, but it will surely make him mad and emotional. Emotional fighters in the ring often make bad judgement calls, and are prone to making crucial mistakes.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. used this technique often in his prime. That being said, use the forearm block sparingly.
6) Jab To The Forehead
Last but not least, a well-placed jab to the forehead can frustrate any opponent, especially if you are able to connect with frequency.
While it’s not a dirty boxing technique per se, it can definitely wreak havoc on your opponent’s rhythm, and often throw him completely off his game plan.
The textbook jab is usually targeted at an opponent’s nose or chin. And that’s the proper way to do it, but aiming a little higher, particularly at the forehead, produces a unique effect. It knocks an opponent’s head back, briefly breaking their line of sight to you and impairing that vision. If you’re fast and accurate enough, you can follow up with a devastating shot your opponent won’t see coming.
Olympic boxers use this technique all the time, and it’s a great way to score points.
Be careful, however. You don’t want to punch this area with too much force. The front of the skull is the hardest part of the human head. You could easily break your hand if you punched hard enough. Instead, use a quick flicker jab to get the knockback effect.
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