The haymaker is one of the most powerful punches used in boxing, but it’s also one of the hardest to land. It involves cocking back your arm to increase the power behind the punch, which telegraphs your intent to a skilled boxer.
A haymaker is typically a hook that is pulled back and unleashed with the entire momentum of the boxer’s twisting body. It is designed to end the fight when it lands. The punch follows a wider trajectory than most punches used in moving and travels a longer distance, giving opponents a lot of time to react to it. It is one of the most avoidable punches in boxing, so it often works best at the end of combinations when you already have your opponent dazed.
Mastering The Haymaker
A conventional hook is a powerful punch in its own right. The power in the punch comes from putting your hips into it as you uncoil with the punch. Boxing instructors often teach students not to telegraph their hooks to avoid making their intent obvious.
A haymaker is simply making a few changes to the mechanics of the hook by doing some of the things your boxing instructor might have warned you to avoid.
When throwing a haymaker, you don’t worry about trying to hide your intentions. You cock your arm back before throwing the hook, which telegraphs your intent but adds significantly more power to your punch. Pulling your hook back and following a wider path leads to a devastatingly powerful punch that can bring a fight to an end. The longer path gives the hook more time to accelerate and increase the force behind it.
You should also put your hips into your haymakers like you would any other punch. Matter of fact, you want to put your entire body weight into the punch for maximum effect. When executed, a haymaker should leave you completed unbalanced if you miss.
Deontay Wilder is an excellent example of a current boxer who loves throwing haymakers. He’s enjoyed lots of success at the top levels of the heavyweight division despite having a haymaker-heavy style that would make any boxing instructor cringe. Wilder loves cocking his arm back and unleashing epic haymakers, and he’s caught many of the best heavyweights in the world with them, including current WBC champion Tyson Fury.
The key to having success with haymakers is to hide them behind combinations or bombard opponents with so many of them one eventually finds his mark. Wilder prefers to bombard opponents with haymakers, and that’s been good enough to get him to the top of the heavyweight division. Tyson Fury is the only man who has solved Wilder’s style, but the first fight of their trilogy ended in a draw. There’s no question about it; haymakers can be a powerful tool in a boxer’s toolbox.
The Dangers That Come With Haymakers
Haymakers are a high-risk, high-reward type of technique. Landing the punch can be enough to put most opponents away, but it leaves you in a vulnerable position as you throw the technique. You end up in an even worse position if the punch misses since it leaves you unbalanced.
The wide motion required to throw haymakers also leaves your face exposed to counters as you throw. You end up in an even worse position if your opponent decides to dodge the haymaker before countering since you’re exposed to a counter while poorly balanced.
You can reduce your exposure while throwing haymakers by doing simple things like:
- Throw It When Your Opponent’s Guard Is Blocking Their Vision: Boxing gloves typically obstruct your vision when you’re covering up with your guard in front of your face. That’s an excellent time to throw a haymaker since your opponent is less likely to notice you winding up your arm. Straight punches to the face like your jab and cross are effective ways to get your opponent to cover their face, limiting their vision. This pointer isn’t as effective for MMA fighters since the smaller gloves make it easier for them to see when covering up.
- Throw Haymakers When Your Opponent Is Wobbly: Haymakers are an effective way to finish opponents who are already seeing stars. This is a more practical setup for MMA fighters than what we discussed above. Michael Bisping finished Luke Rockhold off with a haymaker to win the middleweight title when the two squared off. He already had him hurt and followed up with a haymaker Rockhold never saw coming.
- Throw Haymakers During Heated Exchanges: A heated exchange with your opponent is an excellent way to catch them with a haymaker. Defense is often the first thing to go out of the window when two boxers decide to hold their ground and exchange blows. Slip one of your opponent’s punches before firing off your haymaker to make your attack more effective. It creates a better angle for you to land a powerful counter.
Countering The Haymaker
You’re going find a few haymakers coming your way eventually as a boxer, so you might as well learn how to defend against them. While haymakers are a type of hook, you generally don’t want to block them with your arms since they land with so much power. The impact might still be enough to knock you out, especially if the punch travels around your guard.
Tyson Fury had lots of success against Wilder’s haymakers because he could use his footwork and head movement to avoid most of the haymakers coming his way. Fury made Wilder miss so many haymakers during their second and third fights that Wilder ended up tiring himself out, priming him for the knockouts that followed.
That’s the key to countering the haymaker. Take advantage of your opponent telegraphing their punch and look to evade rather than block the attack. Follow up with hard counters, making sure your opponent pays for every miss. Slip, duck, weave, step, and land hard shots after every miss.
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