The “slugger” boxing style is highly revered by boxing fans as it often leads to spectacular knockouts. Fighters like Deontay Wilder, Sonny Liston, and George Foreman made their names in boxing by mastering this style. They were known for closing the distance on opponents so they could unleash devastating punches. The slugger-type boxer typically has no qualms about taking a few punches just to land a knockout punch.
While sluggers might appear to be less technically proficient than slick or defensive counterpunchers, it’s not an easy style to master. You’ll need to develop devastating power in both hands, which isn’t an easy feat if you’re not naturally heavy-handed. Sluggers also have to build up their bodies to optimize their punching power.
Understanding The Slugger Boxing Style
Sluggers don’t have to worry about fundamentals like footwork as much as other styles like out-boxers. Their endurance doesn’t need to be anything special either since their fights rarely last long. The two main things you need to be successful as a slugger are: Devastating punch power and the ability to take a punch. Sluggers also need to be aggressive since they are often the ones pushing the pace during their fights. They need to be excellent at cutting off the ring so they can pounce on their opponents when the time is right.
The slugger fighting style does not prioritize technical boxing or elegance. It seeks to overwhelm opponents with barrages of accurate power punches. The style relies on raw punching power, an iron chin, and brute force to overwhelm opponents in hopes of a knockout.
Being a slugger also has its downsides. For instance, boxers often commit to their punches so they land with maximum power, which often leaves them exposed to quick jabs from the outside and counterpunches. For this reason, the most successful sluggers typically have iron chins and bodies. A slugger needs to be able to take lots of punishment and continuously push the pace.
Sluggers don’t have to be the most technically proficient boxers, but many intelligent, technical boxers use the slugger style simply because it works for them. Never make the mistake of assuming a slugger can’t box.
Benefits Of The Slugger Boxing Style
Some of the reasons why a decent number of boxers choose the slugger style include:
1) It Naturally Suits Them
Some people are built to be sluggers just like some are built to be out-boxers. For example, out-boxers tend to be long and rangy, while sluggers are typically short and built like tanks. Mike Tyson is a classic example of the slugger body type.
Sluggers should be naturally strong or, at the very least, dedicated to a strength-building workout routine to complement their boxing training. Many strong boxers naturally gravitate towards the slugger style.
2) Leads To More Knockouts
Some boxers gravitate toward the slugger style because they’re enamored with the idea of knocking people out. Knockouts are the ultimate victory in boxing, and many fighters get into the sport dreaming about knocking out opponents on their way to a title shot like a young Mike Tyson.
3) Better Suited For Impatient Boxers
Some fighters choose the slugger style simply because they don’t have the boxing IQ to run complicated offensive strategies or the patience to stick with a slow-paced game plan for the duration of a boxing match. Some people just want to get up in someone’s face and unleash bombs. If that’s you, the slugger style might be perfect for you.
4) Reduces The Importance Of Footwork
You’ll need to have excellent footwork if you want to be an out or defensive boxer. There’s no way around that. You’ll have a hard time managing distances and evading shots if your footwork isn’t top-notch as an out-boxer.
The slugger style isn’t as dependent on footwork as other styles are, making it a more appropriate style for boxers who cannot or won’t develop good footwork. The only direction sluggers typically go during their fights is forward.
Countering The Slugger
Regardless of if you choose to use the slugger style or not, you’ll need to learn how to counter their aggression. It’s one of the most popular styles with boxers, so it’s only a matter of time before you run into one.
Some of the key things you need to do to avoid being another victim of a slugger include:
1) Don’t Get Hit
Sluggers hit pretty hard, so you want to prioritize getting out of the way of their power punches instead of blocking them. Every punch a slugger lands takes something out of you and the accumulative damage of blocked punches can significantly impact the results of a fight.
Remember what we said about sluggers committing to their power punches earlier? That’s something you can take advantage of. Sluggers planting their feet to throw power shots gives you opportunities to move out of range or use head movement to avoid the punch. Out-boxers typically have the easiest time dealing with brawlers since they are typically the technically sharpest boxers with excellent footwork and head movement.
2) Attack The Body
Boxers use their entire bodies to generate power for their punches. The power generation starts in the legs, travels through the core, and enters the fist via the arms and shoulders. Breaking down any part of that chain will reduce the damage a slugger can inflict.
Targeting the body is one of the easiest ways to interrupt the kinetic chain that gives a slugger their power. Once their core is bruised, they won’t be able to generate power from their legs into their punches.
3) Counter Their Big Shots
Sluggers typically have solid defensive techniques. Most parry and block very well, and also have iron chins. However, their aggressive, swing-big mentality often leads to them committing to punches that miss or don’t land cleanly. This creates counter opportunities you can exploit. Try to bait the slugger into throwing punches you want them to throw so you can catch them off guard with a counter.
4) Tire Them Out
Sluggers are typically heavily muscular people and larger muscles require more energy to maintain. Every big movement a slugger makes uses up their energy reserves, especially when they’re hunting for early knockouts.
Sluggers tend not to be as effective when they find themselves still fighting past the sixth round. Muhammad Ali used the now-famous “rope-a-dope” strategy to tire out George Forman during their historic bout before knocking him out in the later rounds.
You may also like: