A large aspect of any fight is the matchup of boxing styles. The style of an opponent dictates how a boxer must prepare and fight.
Although a boxer may be at a disadvantage simply due to the style matchup, it is important to realize that every style has weaknesses and ways that an opponent should approach the fight.
This is a guide to how to approach and beat fighters of the 3 main style types:
How to Beat a Swarmer or Infighter
Fighting a swarmer, or “infighter”, can be a daunting experience for a new boxer. Swarmers are considered the most exciting boxers to watch for a reason – and that’s because they are fast, throw a lot of punches, and land knockouts. Not the funnest thing to face as an opponent.
Beat a Swarmer by Pivoting
A swarmers fight relies on constant forward aggression. If you can throw this movement off, it is always to your advantage. That is why when fighting a swarmer, footwork is incredibly important.
By pivoting, you can throw your opponent off-balance, while simultaneously opening up holes for you to hit them. Several strategic times to employ a pivot are:
- Following a clinch
- After you slip a punch
- After you throw a counterpunch
- After you land a hook or straight
Beat a Swarmer by by Faking the Retreat
Swarmers like their opponents to continually be retreating so that they can take advantage of the holes that exposes in your defense. However, they are not used to opponents coming towards them with forward momentum of their own.
A way to capitalize on this is to fake a retreat, but then step forward again with a hard strike. As the swarmer approaches you, or when he throws a punch, step back with your rear foot, and slide your front foot following it. Then immediately take a sharp step forward with your front foot while throwing a jab, and throw a hard straight/cross as your right foot slides forward.
This can sometimes cause a knockout against a swarmer because your hard cross can catch their head just as it is moving in towards you.
Beat a Swarmer by Working the Clinches
Because swarmers fight at close range, they clinch more than other boxers. Swarmers use the clinch to open up momentary holes in your defense, by clinching, and then throwing a quick uppercut.
When fighting a swarmer you must be wary of their clinching tactics, and counter them with your own. Pivoting is an extremely effective way to get out of a clinch and avoid their blow while simultaneously exposing their head for your own punch.
Beat a Swarmer by Counterpunching
When a swarmer advances, they usually do so with a flurry of punches. Because their first punch is being immediately followed by two more, it dissuades many opponents from attempting to counterpunch.
That does not mean that counterpunching isn’t an effective means of stopping a swarmer. If I swarmer is leading with a 1-2-3, and you slip the jab and follow with a cross of your own, than even if their next punch lands, it is going to be incredibly weakened.
Don’t let their flurry of punches scare you from counterpunching. When you do land your counterpunches, move or pivot immediately afterwards. Swarmers have good chins, so they will look to begin advancing again, but if you have changed direction, you will throw them off further.
How to Beat a Brawler or Slugger
Brawlers, or sluggers, are fighters who typically fight at medium range and rely on their punching power to try and win fights by knockout. Because their fights often end early by KO, they typically do not have great endurance. Brawlers or sluggers typically have an advantage against swarmers because they can stop their aggressive forward movement with their power, but a disadvantage against boxers/outfighters who use their endurance, range, and technical proficiency to outbox them over many rounds.
Beat a Brawler by Making Them Move
Because brawlers do not have lots of endurance, you always want to make them move. Never fight them toe-to-toe, but rather fight them while constantly on the move.
This also helps to minimize their power. Without being able to set and establish a firm foundation, much of their power is taken away. If you get stuck in a corner, and a slugger can establish their foundation and use their whole body to throw punches, you are in trouble.
Beat a Brawler with Straight Punches
While running circles around a brawler, use your jab and cross heavily. These are quick punches that you can throw to their head, and immediately move away. Hooks and uppercuts take more commitment to throw, and give a brawler more time to begin their own attack.
Circle them, throw a jab, set, throw a 1-2, pivot away, keep moving.
Beat a Brawler by Counterpunching
Because brawlers punches are big and slower, they are susceptible to counterpunches if you can make them miss.
Remember, don’t try to slip a punch and move inside for long combos. Counterpunches against a brawler should be quick and hard, followed immediately by you moving away again.
Beat a Brawler by Protecting your Body
Don’t forget to protect your body when fighting a slugger. While knockouts are typically blows to the head, sluggers can deal lots of punishment out to your core, weakening you and making you an easy target for a knockout
If you have to take hits from someone this strong, make sure you know how to properly take a hit, and make sure that you have developed a strong core. This can be the difference between losing and winning a fight against a brawler.
Beat a Brawler by Utilizing the Clinch
If a brawler gets inside, they can be devastating. If a brawler reaches this positions against you, don’t be tentative to engage them in a clinch. While clinching is not pretty, it holds a part in every boxing strategy, and must be used when the situation calls for it.
Remember to move immediately when the clinch ends.
Beat a Brawler by Staying Patient
Ultimately, you must remain patient against the brawler. You can not play “their game,” but must take your time and win on points. Be better conditioned, be smart, and be patient.
How to Beat an Outfighter
An outfighter is characterized by speed, heavy utilization of the jab, technical precision, and fighting from a distance. An outfighter rarely wins by KO, and instead prefers to wear opponents down and win by points. Because of this they also have great stamina.
Beat an Outfigher by Working his Arms
Because an outfighter needs a fast and accurate jab, if you can eliminate this ability you gain an advantage. This can be done by landing lots of blows to a fighters shoulders and upper arms.
There is an added bonus to this strategy also. Outfighters heavily use slips and rolls to avoid punches, and if you aim for a shoulder, you might end up connecting with their head if they move it.
Beat an Outfighter by Working his Body
There is a saying in boxing that goes “No abs, no legs; no legs, no fight.” What this means is that if you work an opponent’s body, their footwork suffers as a result. And a boxer without footwork is a losing fighter.
Because outfighters rely on their legs and movement working their body is another way to eliminate their strengths.
Beat an Outfighter with Constant Head Movement
To avoid the constant jab thrown by outfighters make sure to constantly be moving your head. As you approach lean left, lean right, and duck. When a outfighter misses a jab it gives you the opportunity to move in and try to bring the fight to close range, where you should have an advantage.
Beat an Outfighter by Taking a Hit
In addition to moving your head to avoid their jab, you must also not be afraid to take their jabs. Likely the power behind their jab is not going to be too concerning. If you are in the position to close them into a corner, don’t be afraid to take a jab or two to gain that advantage.
Learn more about how to properly take a hit.
Beat an Outfighter with Endurance
If you are to beat the outfighter, you simply must be well conditioned. You know your opponent will be, and you must be able to match them.
More Ways To Beat Your Opponent
Exploiting your opponent’s style if just one of many ways to gain an advantage. To learn more ways to win fights, get our guide 12 Techniques that Win Fights below!