In boxing, fighters are required to adhere to strict weight class limitations in order to keep the playing field fair. These limitations are there to ensure no one fighter has too much of a size and weight advantage over the other.
That being said, some fighters still enjoy a large height and reach advantage over their opponents. By coming in with less muscle mass, and cutting water weight, they can tip the scales right at the limit. And if they know how to make good use of that height and reach differential, it becomes a major problem for whoever they are in the ring with.
Make no mistake about it: it’s tricky to fight taller opponents in boxing. But there are certain strategies and tactics that will make it easier for you to combat taller opponents, especially if you’re the significantly smaller man in the ring.
As the smaller man, there is no reason for you to be at a disadvantage. You can use your weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
If you’re undersized for your weight class and want to know how to overcome height and reach discrepancies, here are a few things we think you should consider working on in the gym.
Today, Evolve Daily shares how to train for and fight taller opponents in boxing.
1) Fight Small
One of the best tactics in fighting taller opponents in boxing is fighting small. It’s the complete opposite of fighting tall. You’re never going to reach the target if you try to punch up, and you will find yourself constantly overextending, leaving you wide open for counters.
Instead, fight small and make your taller opponent come down to your level. This is done by crouching with the knees slightly bent. This forces your opponent to match your height and actually puts him at a disadvantage. Because they have to hunch forward in order to fight you, it tests the balance of taller fighters and makes them vulnerable in the process.
This helps to diminish a taller opponent’s punching power, as the taller man has to exert extra effort in keeping himself balanced while punching downward. Furthermore, it will limit your opponent’s contact points by limiting the scoring zones to a smaller radius.
2) Invest In Body Work
Once you get the hang of fighting small, it’s time to go to work. There are many options for you from this position, both offensively and defensively. But one area you must invest in is body punching.
Body punching is a very important aspect of boxing, and one that is often overlooked. It’s somewhat of a lost art, and is undoubtedly crucial to fighting taller fighters.
Aim to dig to the body early and often. This will allow you to chip away at a taller opponent’s defense, hamper their movement, and slowly soften them up as rounds progress. Going to the body frequently also drains an opponent’s energy over time, slowing their rate of punching, and taking the edge off their punching power.
Taller opponents are usually open for body punches, so it’s imperative you throw hard shots at that area. A well-placed shot to the liver will crumple any fighter.
3) Use Lateral Movement
Another key aspect of fighting taller fighters is to move constantly, particularly lateral movement. You can’t stay static in front of a taller opponent. That’s just going to give him a chance to catch you. Being the smaller man, you need to have superior mobility, and use your movement to run circles around your larger foe.
Taller fighters have a hard time keeping up with smaller fighters, especially where movement and footwork is concerned. As the smaller man in the ring, you have the ability to stay consistently one step ahead of your opponent with superior lateral movement. Moving left to right, and constantly pivoting to both the power and the weak sides, will keep your foes playing catch-up.
You will also earn massive points on the judges’ scorecards with superior ring generalship. Being able to command the length of the ring is a major scoring category in both amateur and professional boxing.
Conversely, you don’t want to move along the centerline, meaning forward or backward. A taller opponent can use his height and reach to catch you. Instead, use angles to enter and exit your offensive sets.
4) Punch Your Way Inside
Last but not least, don’t forget your combinations when you attempt to enter optimal range. Combination punching while moving forward is key against taller fighters who will attempt to keep you on the outside.
Make no mistake about it. Fighting taller fighters is hard. But it doesn’t have to be. As the smaller man, you are at a disadvantage because you’re constantly out of range. This just means you have to get within range in order to do damage, and that comes with the risk of getting caught on the way in.
However, by punching your way forward, and coming into range with your combinations, you keep the taller fighter on the defensive as you put yourself into position to land your power shots.
Always punch while moving. Don’t just barrel into range, willing to walk through the fire. Move your head consistently as you explode forward, look to throw hands.
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