Dirty boxing is a controversial topic but so very necessary to discuss. After all, boxing is real fighting, albeit in a controlled environment in the ring. As such, it’s important to study ALL techniques, including those rarely touched upon in traditional training.
Make no mistake about it, dirty boxing is a huge part of the sport, and it’s something you should study, even if you have no plans on using any of its techniques. Also, you run the risk of being penalized for using such techniques, so proceed at your own discretion.
It is imperative, however, for you to understand dirty boxing, if only for you to know how to properly defend yourself against an opponent who uses these tactics.
Dirty boxing is considered a ‘dark art.’ It’s not about blatantly fouling an opponent by poking them in the eye with your thumb, or sending a haymaker down to the nether regions. It’s about twisting and bending the rules just enough in order to gain a slight competitive advantage.
These are the unspoken techniques in boxing.
Today, Evolve Daily details five ‘dirty boxing’ techniques, using your entire body to your advantage.
1) Referee Blindspot
There are a lot of things you can get away with if you know how to position yourself correctly. Maneuvering your opponent in a position between yourself and the referee will create a blind spot for the official. The likelihood of you getting caught executing an illegal move is then reduced greatly.
Former multiple-division boxing world champion Bernard Hopkins was a master of this technique in his prime. Hopkins would hide his illegal activity from the referee using this method, and a lot of his opponents became so frustrated, it threw them off their game both physically and mentally.
Hopkins was notorious for using this blindspot. He would purposely himself back into a corner or against the ropes to limit the referee’s field of vision. He would then hold his opponent’s wrist, hit them with short elbows and shoulder strikes on the inside, and not get penalized because the referee didn’t see it.
Be aware if your opponent tries this technique. You will notice a distinct movement pattern.
2) Toe Stepping
When an orthodox fighter meets a southpaw in the ring, they often step on each other’s toes by accident. It’s a natural occurrence in the ring due to the feet placement of the two different fighting stances. But ‘toe stepping’ or ‘foot stomping’ can be done on purpose, to impair an opponent’s movement, or cause them to think twice about moving at all.
This is done by extending the lead foot forward to purposely step on an opponent’s toe, followed by a punch, usually a quick lead cross. The toe step isn’t painful per se, but because the opponent can feel it, it causes enough shock to momentarily break their focus, allowing you to connect on the punch behind it.
Mexican boxing legend Juan Manuel Marquez used this technique multiple times, whether purposely or accidentally, in four fights against Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao. It was an especially controversial topic in their third bout. Fans felt Marquez’s excessive foot stomping greatly affected the fight.
Always be wary of where you place your feet in a boxing match, as the battle for lead foot position is a very important one.
3) Combat Clinching
The clinch is another very important boxing technique that has a ton of grey areas. While it has proven to be an effective defensive skill, excessive clinching can be used to a strategic advantage to stifle an offense. Combined with short body shots on the inside while holding, impairing an opponent’s use of their arms, and short shots to the head, and you have what people call ‘combat clinching.’
The perfect example of combat clinching comes to us in the Floyd Mayweather-Shane Mosley super fight in 2010. In the second round, a swift right hand from Mosley staggered Mayweather and nearly sent him crashing to the canvas. But instead of hitting the deck, Mayweather remained composed and grabbed Mosley’s arm, instantly bringing him inside the clinch.
Although Mosley tried to follow up with a few more hard shots, Mayweather grabbed his arms and tied him up frequently, stifling his output. This gave Mayweather just enough time to recover his bearings, proving that combat clinching is perfect for whenever you’re in trouble.
4) Forearm Smash
Another effective dirty boxing technique Mayweather loved to use was the forearm smash. It’s a sneaky move aimed at controlling an opponent who likes to get in close, and punishing them with a shot from nowhere.
Using the forearm is an illegal technique in boxing, but you can get away with it as long as you don’t use it to blatantly attack an opponent.
Mayweather often stuck his lead left forearm into an opponent’s face, pushing off slightly before sending a smashing right hook over the top of it. It provides for an incredibly accurate and powerful shot that is hard to dodge.
This technique is best combined with speed and quickness, as the forearm shouldn’t linger on an opponent’s face for longer than a split second. It’s used mainly as a setup for the shot that follows it, and is very effective if executed correctly.
5) Head Control
Head control refers to controlling an opponent’s head by holding the back of the neck, similar to the Muay Thai head clinch, or positioning your own head in a strategic manner by digging it into an opponent’s chest, shoulder, or chin.
There are a plethora of head control techniques in dirty boxing that will cause mayhem in the ring.
Firstly, holding the back of the neck will keep an opponent’s head in position so you are able to hit them with short shots on the inside. This is especially useful against opponents who have great head movement. Secondly, where you position your forehead in close quarters matters greatly. In this video, former middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin demonstrates how he is able to move his head in the clinch position to give him a distinct competitive advantage in various in-fighting situations.