Level Up Your Boxing Game With These 5 Check Hook Variations

Check hooks are one of the most important punches used in boxing. Unfortunately, they’re also one of the most misunderstood.

Most people think of a check hook as a way to counter a right hand. And while that’s true, there are many different ways you can use a check hook to significant effect. If your opponent is charging you aggressively, the check hook is one of the most useful tools you have to defend against their aggression

The technique turns your opponent into a raging bull while you get to play the matador. Just like a matador steps out of the way as a bull charges them, the check hook involves doing the same. You step out of harm’s way and use your opponent’s momentum against them. 

A regular hook is a powerful punch, but nothing compared to a check hook since your opponent’s forward momentum and your footwork (which allows you to rotate your upper body) significantly increase the force the attack lands with. Floyd Mayweather’s knockdown of Ricky Hatton during the tenth round of their 2007 title fight is an excellent example of how powerful a check hook can be. 

This article will discuss some of the different check hook variations you can add to your arsenal. We’ll also cover some of the scenarios you can counter with a check hook. So, let’s get started!


The Traditional Check Hook

The traditional check hook is thrown when your opponent lunges at you. You quickly pivot to the left side as they extend their arm and throw a left hook to the body or head. If you’re in a southpaw stance, you throw a right hook and pivot to the right while throwing the punch. 

The pivot causes your opponent’s attack to miss while opening them up for your counter

The critical thing to remember with the traditional check hook is that you need to pivot quickly. Your opponent will simply adjust and land their punch if you don’t. 


Check Hook Variations That Improve Your Boxing Game

Once you’re confident with the the traditional check hook, try some of the most effective check hook variations some of the best boxers on the planet use regularly: 


1) The Lead Check Hook

Let’s start with the sidestep. The sidestep is a variation of the traditional check hook. Instead of pivoting off to the side, take a step to your lead side and fire off the hook. This variation of the check hook typically works best for orthodox vs. southpaw matchups, and it often leaves your opponent open to a follow-up uppercut as they try to chase you. 

This variation is highly effective against taller opponents who have a long reach. By taking a step towards your lead side, you’ll be able to get inside their guard and land heavy punches.


2) The Backstep Check Hook

boxing ko targets

The next is the backstep check hook. For this variation, instead of pivoting off to the side, step backward with your rear leg. 

This punch is effective against very aggressive opponents who like to come forward. By taking a step back, you should be able to get out of the way of their punches while landing your check hook. 

This variation should be used sparingly since you still end up in front of your opponent, exposing you to their attacks. 


3) The Switch Stance Check Hook

The switch stance check hook is an advanced variation of the check hook. Instead of pivoting as you throw the hook, you take a step back with your lead leg, so you end up in the opposite stance, and throw a check hook with your new lead hand. 

This punch is effective against opponents who are expecting a check hook from your preferred stance. By taking a step back, you’ll be able to catch them off guard and land a hook with the opposite hand instead.


4) The Pivot Out Check Hook

This check hook variation involves pushing off your rear leg as you pivot and throw your check hook. This allows you to load your punch with power while keeping you safe from your opponent’s attacks. It often leads to your opponent overcommitting to their attack, opening them up for your check hook. 


5) The Corkscrew Check Hook

This is a cool variation that works well for shorter fighters. It involves parrying or blocking your opponent’s straight punches while simultaneously taking a step back and landing a check hook thrown like a corkscrew jab. It’s one of the more advanced variations of the check hook, but it can be very effective when done correctly. 


When To Use The Check Hook

The key thing to note about the check hook is how effective it is against opponents who telegraph their punches. By keeping your eyes on their shoulders, you’ll be able to see their punches coming and counter accordingly. After covering some of the different variations of the check hook, let’s take a look at some of the scenarios where it can be used to significant effect.


Scenario 1: Countering The Jab

boxing olympics jab

The check hook is an excellent punch for countering the jab. As your opponent throws their jab, you quickly pivot off to the side and throw a left hook. This will cause their jab to miss while you hopefully land your left hook.


Scenario 2: Countering The Straight Right Hand

The check hook can also be used to counter straight right hands. The mechanics are similar to countering a jab with a check hook. You simply pivot out of the way of the attack or take a back step before throwing a hook. 


Scenario 3: Countering Hooks

boxing hook knockout

The check hook also works well as a counter for hooks. However, your priority should be pivoting and ducking under since a hook can do serious damage. Pivot, backstep, duck, or sidestep to evade the attack and fire off the hook. 

After reading about this variations, try incorporating them into your boxing game, you’ll never know when these variations would come in handy especially in the art of pugilism – where your arsenal of attacks are dependent on your fists!


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