What Is The Peek-A-Boo Style In Boxing?

Legendary boxing coach Cus D’Amato created the peek-a-boo boxing style. His most famous disciple, “Iron” Mike Tyson, popularized it. It’s an entertaining boxing style to watch as it puts fighters in positions to land fight-ending blows. 

When used, the peek-a-boo looks like an aggressive style, but it actually prioritizes defense over offense. It is a counter-punching style that emphasizes air-tight defense as a fighter encroaches on an opponent’s space.


How The Peek-A-Boo Style Works

Mike Tyson wasn’t the first boxer trained by D’Amato to use the peek-a-boo style effectively at the highest levels of boxing. That honor goes to Floyd Patterson, who won an Olympic gold medal as an amateur and two heavyweight titles as a professional.

The peek-a-boo style prioritizes constant defense while putting yourself in position to land hard punches. It gives fighters complete freedom as far as movement is concerned and allows them to control the fight’s pace while minimizing their exposure to attacks. 

D’Amato designed the peek-a-boo as a defensive-minded system that allows boxers to control the pace of a fight. It effectively limits your opponent’s defense while allowing you to get your attacks off. It’s a great style for people who like to close the distance and fight on the inside. It allows you to throw effective counters. 

To master the peek-a-boo boxing style, you’ll need to understand D’Amato’s philosophy when creating the system. Cus believed the ability to slip punches was the greatest tool in a boxer’s tool bag. Slipping is one of the most challenging skills for boxers to learn, but D’Amato believed making the effort to master it was worth it. The peek-a-boo system is designed for boxers skilled at slipping punches and head movement since that makes their defense significantly harder to get through as they walk down opponents.


Mike Tyson And The Peek-A-Boo Boxing Style


D’Amato discovered Tyson during his teenage years, and he quickly became D’Amato’s top student. His personality, physique, and ferocity were tailor-made for the peek-a-boo. 

Tyson was a naturally aggressive boxer, and the peek-a-boo gave him the perfect style to unleash devastating punches on his opponents while minimizing his risks. Tyson used the style throughout his reign, walking down opponents, slipping their shots, and landing ferocious counters that knocked many unconscious. While Tyson is best known for his devastating knockout power, his defense (particularly his ability to slip punches) and counterpunching accuracy were equally responsible for his success inside the ring. 


Adapting the Peek-A-Boo Style

Anyone can use the peek-a-boo boxing style, but certain characteristics make it more favorable for some more than others. Some of the attributes you need to develop if you want to make it your boxing style include:


1) Fast Movements

Using the peek-a-boo style requires you to be able to close the distance or increase it effectively. It’s a great style for shorter fighters who often find themselves going against taller, rangier fighters. Tyson was short for a heavyweight, but the peek-a-boo style allowed him to make up for that with his explosive power and seed. 

Taller boxers can also have success with the style, for example, Floyd Patterson, but they generally move slower and have a more challenging time closing distances. 


2) Ambidextrous 

The peek-a-boo boxing style works well for fighters who are equally comfortable fighting out of the southpaw or orthodox stance. Mike Tyson was a naturally ambidextrous puncher, and he was equally capable of turning someone’s lights off with either hand. 

This made it easier for Tyson to counterpunch with either hand. He often used the “Dempsey shift” to set up his attacks. The technique involves making a linear shift and a training step before taking a deep shifting step followed by a massive straight from his rear hand. 


3) Low Base

Observe most sports, and you’ll quickly notice that the shorter competitors are typically the fastest. One huge factor you can attribute for this is the lower center of gravity shorter people have. This gives them increased lower body strength and more freedom with their movements. 

With his low center of gravity, Tyson’s physique allowed him to slip and weave through punches with ease. 


4) Explosive Power

You need to have devastating punching power to pull off the peek-a-boo style successfully. The style allows you to get inside your opponent so you can land fight-ending blows. Having a reputation for being a powerful puncher also prevents your opponent from getting overzealous with their attacks since they are constantly worried about your counters. Might Tyson hit so hard, many of his knockouts came from straight punches. 


5) Speed

Speed is the perfect complement for explosive power. You want to be fast with your footwork so you can step inside or outside as needed. You also need fast hands to catch opponents with your devastating counters. 


Reasons To Consider Using The Peek-A-Boo Style

The peek-a-boo style is no longer as popular as it once was as the sport of boxing continues to evolve, but it remains an effective style for those who put in the work to master it. Some of the main reasons you should consider using the peek-a-boo style include:

  • Makes It Easier To Close The Distance: The squared stance used makes it easier to chase down and cut off opponents in the ring. It also makes it easier to land hard counters while closing the distance.
  • Allows For Fast Movements: This is especially true for shorter fighters. The style allows for fast movements inside and outside.
  • Great For Offense: The peek-a-boo style is a defensive style that puts you in excellent position to mount your offense. It favors aggressive fighters who like to trade power shots inside the pocket. It allows them to mount a considerable offense while minimizing their risks.
  • It Makes You Harder To Predict: The peek-a-boo style uses off-rhythm movements that can throw opponents off. It involves using movement and attacks that are not conventionally used, making it harder for opponents to figure out what you’re doing.


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