The great thing about boxing is that there are so many different ways and variations of fighting in the ring.
I guess that is why we call our sport the sweet science, due to every fighter being so different. As they say in boxing – styles make fights.
Every boxing style has pros and cons and I have to admit some are better than others. However, it can also depend on the fighter himself and what level he is at.
In this blog, I want to identify 7 boxing fighting styles that you should know about. I will also go over stances and how you can choose what style is best for you if you are a complete beginner.
One thing to note, before I go over each of the boxing styles, is that the best fighters are able to adapt and use other boxing styles depending on the situation. For example, out punchers tend to use counter-punching style and vice versa.
The best boxers have always been the ones that have been able to adapt to what is in front of them. This is so they can gain an advantage over their opponent and give them the best chance of victory.
What are the 7 Boxing styles?
Before I go into each style individually, here are 7 boxing fight styles.
- Out Boxer
- Counter puncher
- Pressure Fighter
- Swarmer (In fighter)
- Boxer Puncher (Pure boxer)
- Complete Boxer
1. Out Boxer
This is a classic and more amateur style, where you will tend to stay on the outside of your opponent as much as possible.
Usually, fighters that have long reach and good footwork will tend to use this style as it is much harder for their opponent to get on inside of them.
They also tend to have very good and stiff jabs to keep their opponent off them. Another combination they will usually throw is a powerful straight hand. Which always has their opponent on the urge of caution of getting clipped, especially if they are a smaller fighter trying to get on the inside.
Notable Out Boxer
- Wladimir Klitschko
- Willie Pep
- Muhammad Ali
- Tommy Hearns
- Anthony Joshua
|Usually always have brilliant footwork||Plays into the hands of some swarmer/pressure fighters|
|Keeps your opponent always guessing||Lot’s stamina required|
|Hard for opponents to get on the inside with them||Consider boring by some pundits and fans|
|Defensively brilliant at keeping the opponent at the end of your jab|
|Helps to set up your power punches|
2. Counter puncher
Very similar to the out puncher, and in essence would use both of these boxing styles depending on the situation in front of them.
A counterpuncher will in essence try to draw an attack from their opponent by presenting an opening. This in turn usually creates an opportunity for them to use a defensive manoeuvre first to make them miss, and return fire with a counter
Here is a brilliant quote by Bruce Lee who explains the essence of counterattack perfectly:
“The counterattack is not a defensive action, but a method of using the opponent’s offense as a means of the successful completion of one’s own attack. The counter attack is an advance phase of offense…it is the greatest art of fighting, the art of champion.”– Bruce Lee
Notable Counter Punchers
- Floyd Mayweather Jr
- Pernell Whitaker
- Salvador Sanchez
|The greatest form of attack – hit and not get hit||Timing and speed have to be on point|
|Can cause much frustration and caution for your opponent||Can play into the hand of an aggressive pressure fighter|
|Can be knockout or damaging blows||Hardest skill to master|
3. Pressure fighter
Not to be confused with just a swarmer, a pressure fighter is someone who likes to apply pressure on the opponent using their jab-forward moving footwork.
This means they can get into a position so they throw short and sharp power punches such as hooks and uppercuts.
Mexican fighters have traditionally been known to apply this to opponents over the years. Putting their competitors on the backdoor constantly takes up a lot of their opponent’s energy.
Notable Pressure fighters
|Puts your opponent on the back foot||Can lead to getting counterpunched|
|Helps you to control the ring||Require good footwork|
|Control the tempo of the fight||Lots of stamina require|
|The power needed to have opponents respect you|
4. Swarmer (in fighter)
Now a swarmer is usually also considered similar to a pressure fighter as well. But the main difference is that they usually want to get up on the inside of your opponent at all cost.
It tends to be smaller opponents that apply this boxing style so they can apply pressure on taller opponents to get close.
Once they have closed the gap they will tend to throw hooks and uppercuts while pushing back and leaning on their opponent, controlling their arms on the inside so they create openings to punch them.
Notable Swarmer (In Fighters)
- Roberto Duran
- Henry Armstrong
- James Toney
- Mike Tyson
|Can be very tiring for your opponent||Takes years to rmaster and is hard to get right|
|Difficult to defend against||Can lead to cuts or bruising (heads clashing)|
|Put your opponent on the back foot||Need to have relatively good power|
|Great to use if physically strong||Some Refs don’t like this style of fighting (break up|
This is another form of aggressive boxing style tactic, where a lot of non-technical boxers will instead rely on their power.
This boxing style obviously relies on the fighter themselves to be powerful in the first place and have some technical accuracy to actually land on their opponent.
Many boxers actually rely on this style when they have been hurt and throw slugging shots in the hope it will clip their opponent, which actually happened more often than not.
This is a very entertaining style to watch as it can be devastating if they punch their opponent usually. However, it works both ways as wild punches can take them off balance. The very best counter punchers can really punish a slugger if they are to miss. Think of Muhammad Ali vs Sonny Liston for example.
- Deontay Wilder
- Sonny Liston
- Jake LaMotta
- Rocky Marciano
|Can be very dangerous for the opponent||Easily lose balance|
|Brilliant to use if powerful||Can waste a lot of energy|
|Keeps your opponent cautious and guessing||Plays into a counter puncher style|
6. Boxer Puncher (Pure Boxer)
Now, this is one best style to apply and it is usually boxers that is able to at least do at least two of the above. For example: Outfighter + Pressure Fighter or Counter Puncher + Swarmer (in fighter).
These are usually regarded as the best boxers and many of them reach a world level class if you can do at least one or two of these styles depending on the style.
The great thing about having a boxer-puncher style is that you can adapt to your opponent’s style depending on how their opponent is fighting.
Boxer punchers also tend to be much better at combination punching and have the knockout power to keep their opponents off them.
Notable Boxer Punchers
|Better to adapt to different boxing styles||Can be caught off guard on what style to use|
|Can attack or defend effectively with this||You might come against a boxing style that doesn’t suit your variation|
|Great if you have power|
|Great for more offensive-minded fighter|
7. Complete fighter
These are a very rare breed indeed and are usually fighters that use all the above in whatever situation he finds themselves in. These are regarded as the best-ever boxers and are able to adapt to any situation in front of them.
Whatever their opponent comes out as they are able to change and adapt to situations quickly so they can gain a quick advantage.
It’s obviously quite debatable in terms of who is a complete fighter, but I have listed a few below who I feel have been able to adapt and change to any given situation.
Notable complete fighters
|Everything! They are able to adapt to any situation||Takes many years of work to get to that level|
Another thing to keep in mind with all these boxing styles is that stance can also play a big part in terms of what style fighters use. However
This is the most common stance you will see in boxing, with the vast majority of fighters leading with their left hand for jabs and right hand for power shot straights.
The rule of thumb tends to be that you have your weaker hand leading so you can generate more power with your backhand.
If you are unsure what stance you are in, check the image below.
“Leftys” as many people refer to them, as their backhand, power shot, or straight punch is the opposite of an orthodox stance.
Southpaws are generally regarded as the most difficult styles and stances. This is mainly due to it being unusual with most fighters southpaws will struggle a lot due to the stance clash.
They also usually have a much better jab as they have to adapt to fight against orthodox fighters for the majority of the time. Notable southpaws I recommend you check out are Manny Pacquiao, Josh Taylor and Errol Spence Jr.
These are very rare and even the very best will avoid trying to do this as it can lead to opportunities for your opponent.
But the positive side is that switching hitting or changing stance every now and again will keep your opponent guessing. I’ve found boxer punchers and swarmers are generally great at switching up their stance. Some notable switch hitters include Marvin Hagler and Terrence Crawford
How to choose your boxing style?
You can choose your boxing style by what feels most comfortable to you. As you can see above. All of the boxing styles have pros and cons, but it is recommended to master at least one or two of the styles so you combine them and adapt to the opponent that is in front of you.
It is possible to be a complete fighter, but it takes a lot of hard work, and usually, it is world-level boxers that started boxing from a very young age.
I recommend you do what comes naturally to you in my opinion. For example, I’ve always felt most comfortable being a boxer-puncher fighter due to my size. I like to put pressure on my opponent and put them on their back foot when the opportunity arises. But I’m also able to use reach and jab to stay on the outside against a swarmer when necessary.
As you can see from the above, there is so much detail and depth when it comes to boxing fighting styles.
There is no perfect style in boxing as they all have pros and cons to them. As the famous saying goes in boxing styles make fights.
It’s important to note that boxing styles aren’t just everything as your age, experience, and physical ability can also play into a fight.
I hope you have been able to take something from these 7 Boxing Styles.
Thanks for reading!
If you would like to read more articles like make sure to check out the following:
- 5 Ways of Attack In Boxing – Bruce Lee’s Attacking Philosophy
- 6 Key Boxing Defensive Techniques – Hit And Don’t Get Hit
- How To Start Boxing On Your Own in 10 Steps
- Best Online Boxing Course Lessons
- Boxing Heavy Bag Workouts For Beginners
Or why not check out my individual boxing fighter styles analysis articles here.
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