Here’s How To Utilize The Shoulder Push In Boxing

Technically speaking, boxers aren’t meant to push each other inside the ring, but not everyone follows the rule. It’s kind off like how boxers aren’t meant to clinch with their opponents, but they do so anyway. Pushing isn’t typically viewed as a major infraction in boxing, so you’ll get numerous warnings for doing it before a referee considers taking a point from you. 

Before the Queensberry rules were adopted in boxing, pushing and wrestling were permitted inside the ring. These days, pushing is illegal in boxing, but more referees at the professional level rarely warn fighters for slight nudging or pushing when fighting inside. Only obvious pushes done by fully extending your arms typically generate warnings and point deductions these days. 

An example of this would be Amir Khan’s 2011 fight against Lamont Peterson for the junior welterweight title. Khan got the better of the exchanges during their fight but lost two points on the judges’ scorecards for pushing. One infraction occurred in the seventh round, while the other occurred in the twelfth and final round. The deductions ended up giving Peterson a controversial decision victory against Khan. 

Another example of a boxer being punished for pushing is Chris Eubanks’s controversial point deduction for pushing when he faced James DeGale in 2019. Frustrated with DeGale constantly looking for the clinch to slow down his offense, Eubanks broke up the clinches by pushing DeGale away. However, he eventually lost his cool and shoved DeGale hard to the canvas, costing him a point. Fortunately, he was so dominant during the fight the point deduction was insignificant. Eubanks won the fight via unanimous decision. 


How To Get Away With The Shoulder Push In Boxing

Regardless of the legality of pushing in boxing, it’s something you want in your arsenal. Pushing an opponent can be an effective way to put yourself in advantageous positions inside the ring. Let’s look at some of the ways boxers use shoulder pushes in boxing without getting in trouble with the referee. 


1) Bumping In

This is one of the most common ways boxers use the shoulder push to gain a positional advantage. It’s an effective way to close the distance. Here’s what the technique looks like: 

  • Put yourself in position to close the distance by slipping outside your opponent’s front hand. This creates more space between you and their rear hand, making it more challenging for them to land hard shots on you.
  • Slide into your opponent as you step forward so you’re shoulder-to-shoulder with each other. Keep your hips close to your opponent’s hips to protect yourself against short hooks and uppercuts.
  • If you want to create space to land a punch, push your opponent with your shoulder and immediately fire away. You can also perform another bump from this position to get even closer to your opponent after landing some punches.
  • Use your forearm as a wedge if your opponent tries to close the distance on you. Control the distance in the position, so your opponent is forced to fight on your terms.
  • At this point, you can choose how to proceed. If you want to generate space for a punch to land, use your shoulder to push them away. If you want to take space away and smother their punches, bump in once more.


2) Shoulder Twist

Here’s another subtle way to use a shoulder push to create space for your offense. You’ll need to be shoulder-to-shoulder with your opponent to execute this technique. It involves twisting your shoulder inside towards your opponent while simultaneously chicken-winging (flaring your elbow upward as if you were imitating a chicken flapping around) your arm. 

When done correctly, it pushes your opponent backward and throws off their balance, opening up uppercuts and hooks from your rear hand. 


3) Push And Throw

Here’s a more defensive use of the shoulder push that puts you in a position to throw powerful punches. The technique is available whenever an opponent closes the distance against you and starts throwing powerful punches

To perform this technique:

  • Get into position with you and your opponent leaning into each other.
  • Use your lead forearm and shoulders to push your opponent diagonally while simultaneously pivoting to the outside.
  • You should end up in a perfect position to fire off powerful punches with your rear hand.


4) Jab – Shoulder Push 

Here’s a simple way to incorporate the shoulder push into your offense. It’s an effective combo that keeps your opponent guessing the entire time you’re firing away. Use this on opponents with good defensive skills to get them to make mistakes. Here’s how to perform the technique:

  • We’ll use the orthodox stance to demonstrate this technique. From mid to outside range, fire off some jabs, and take a step towards your opponent. You want to get inside your opponent’s guard, so you’re standing shoulder to shoulder.
  • Nudge your opponent with your lead shoulder to push them toward your right side. Fire a hard hook to the body with your rear hand as your opponent moves to your right side.
  • Follow that punch up with a lead hook to the head. There’s a good chance an opponent drops their guard after absorbing a big hook to the body, opening this punch up.


5) 3 Effective Shoulder Push Combinations 

Once you’ve mastered the first jab and shoulder push combination, try some of practicing some of these shoulder combinations demonstrated by WBA Boxing World Champion Drian Francisco from the Evolve Fight Team

The shoulder push can be used in various ways, apart from creating space and angles, it gives you also a chance to breathe and openings to deliver powerful punches. This technique however, should be used sparingly only as a last resort. Nevertheless, we encourage you to drill this technique because you never know when you might need it!


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