The term “switch hitter” in boxing refers to boxers who are equally competent fighting out of an orthodox or southpaw stance. Most boxers are only comfortable fighting out of one stance, which is typically the orthodox stance since most people are right-handed.
A boxer is said to be in an orthodox stance when their left foot is their lead foot, and their left hand is their lead hand. A boxer is in a southpaw stance when they use their right foot and hand as their lead. The southpaw stance is typically best suited for left-handed fighters.
Being able to fight using either stance gives you a significant advantage inside the boxing ring. For example, many boxers struggle with southpaws, so a switch hitter can use it to their advantage as needed. Switching stances often during a fight also makes it more challenging for your opponent to anticipate your next move. Switch-hitting is a skill you should work on if you plan to compete as a boxer. It’ll serve as an ace in your pocket you can rely on during tough matches.
The Five Best Switch Hitters In Boxing History
Let us take a look at some of the high-profile boxing champions who mastered the art of switch-hitting and used it to their advantage inside the ring:
1) Terence Crawford
Many boxing experts would agree that Crawford is arguably the best switch-hitter in boxing today. He’s been so good fighting out of both stances during his boxing career that many fans are surprised to find out he’s a lefty.
Crawford uses stance changes to adapt to opponents, making it difficult for them to get a read on him. Just when a fighter starts to get comfortable in the ring with him, he switches stances to create a new set of problems for them to deal with. The fact Crawford can throw powerful fight-ending punches out of either stance makes him even scarier.
The modifications Crawford makes to the conventional boxing stance have also caused many problems for his opponents inside the ring. Crawford loves to shift his weight over the centerline while his head is aligned with his rear foot, in contrast to the traditional boxing stance, which keeps your head over the centerline. This often leads to opponents overcommitting as they try to land head punches on him, leaving them off-balance while creating openings for Crawford to exploit. The stance also allows Crawford to counter jabs before the punches can even reach him.
Besides that, Crawford keeps things surprisingly simple inside the ring. He keeps his head movement and footwork to a minimum while using lots of feints and stance changes to keep opponents guessing.
Crawford’s switch-hitting style has been so effective no one has been able to figure out how to beat him. He currently sports a 38-0 record, with several world titles to go along with it.
Hagler is one of the best middleweight champions in boxing history, and his ability to switch stances helped him create his legacy. In his prime, Marvin was a technically sharp boxer who could fight at an elite level in either stance.
A natural righty, Hagler trained most as a southpaw during his early years, giving him one of the most powerful jabs in middleweight history. Hagler’s jab was a significant part of his offense as he loved toying with opponents with his footwork and feints before unleashing his jab.
Hagler’s ability to change stances effortlessly made it much more challenging to figure out his jab as he switched stances frequently to keep them guessing throughout his fights.
3) Tyson Fury
Tyson Fury is undoubtedly one of the most technically gifted boxers in the history of the heavyweight division. The fact he can also take a punch is just icing on the cake. Fury has solidified his status as the best heavyweight on the planet, and his ability to switch stances and fighting stances is unparalleled. One minute he’s a southpaw brawler; the next, he’s an orthodox outside puncher.
Fury’s ability to switch stances and styles at will creates countless problems for opponents inside the ring. No one has been able to solve the puzzle, with Deontay Wilder coming closest to handing Fury his first loss. The second and third fights between the two perfectly showcase Fury’s ability to mix things up as they turned out to be one-sided affairs, with Fury dominating the exchanges.
4) Naseem Hamed
“Prince” Naseem Hamed is one of the most unorthodox fighters in boxing history, from his fighting style to his ring entrances. He’s also one of the best switch-hitters to lace up a pair of gloves. Hamed often left his opponents confused with his seemingly constant stance changes and the awkward angles his attacks came from.
Hamed loved to pressure opponents with his hands by his waist, daring them to throw punches at him. When they did, he made them pay by uncoiling his body and landing powerful punches. Naseem’s one-punch knockout power was a rare thing to see from a featherweight, and the fact he could finish opponents with either hand made him one of the most dangerous switch hitters ever.
5) Andre Ward
Ward is another one of those boxers who combined multiple styles to create his unique style. His jab was his primary weapon during his prime, using them defensively to keep opponents off him and to set up more powerful punches.
He’d spread out the targets of his jab and switch stances to make it more challenging for opponents to anticipate his next move. He used his lead hand to parry counter jabs and to block opponents when they tried to close the distance on him. Ward’s footwork was also a thing of beauty, and he often used it to keep opponents on their backfoot as he looked for openings in their guards.
However, Ward’s ability to switch stances was one of his most valuable skills, as it made it a lot easier for him to mix up his offense as opponents struggled to figure out what he’d do next.
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