You may have been watching a fight when unexpectedly one fighter uses a leaping hook out of nowhere! All of a sudden they are jumping off the ground for one second before landing a perfectly executed punch, hurting or even knocking out the opponent. Only for the commentator to mention them using a “Gazelle Hook”?
But what is this technique exactly? And why use it?
What is the Gazelle Punch?
The Gazelle Punch or leaping hook/jab is one of the best techniques for closing the gap. This is where an attacker bends slightly to build the explosiveness in the legs before quickly lifting up from a lowered position to throw the punch while moving through the air towards the target (just like a gazelle leaps).
The name for this punch has been popularised in the Japanese boxing anime/manga – Hajime no Ippo. Where the main character Ippo Makunouchi uses and learns the technique against one of his opponents.
However many real legends of the sport boxing including Floyd Patterson, Rocky Marciano, and Mike Tyson have made more people aware of this.
When to use the Gazelle Punch?
First and foremost you have to actually be able to throw the punch by practicing in shadow boxing, the heavy bag, and then sparring. There is no point using this technique if you can’t actually execute it first. This can be a dangerous technique to use if you don’t execute it correctly.
In terms of its actual use, the gazelle punch is all about timing your opponent at the correct moment. Often there is a slight slip (head off the centerline) before you fire it as if you are about to throw a hook to the body. Because it looks like it will be a body shot, this, in turn, sometimes helps lower the opponent’s guard to create an opening for this technique.
So consider the following when about to use:
- Using a feint before throwing the punch
- Conditioning your opponent to expect a hook to the body.
- Set up the punch over many rounds
- Make sure the opponent guard is down
- Make sure the opponent is close enough to execute
Legends using the Gazelle Hook
Now before I go any further I highly recommend you watch my Gazelle Punch breakdown video below. Which shows some of the boxing legends using this punch. I will put some of the key examples further below.
Floyd Patterson, Marciano & Mike Tyson
As mentioned the move became popularized by heavyweight champions Rocky Marciano and then Floyd Patterson.
The technique is often best used by slightly smaller opponents or those with a shorter reach. Both for the most part had a smaller reach than their opponents. However, they used it to devastating effect.
Floyd Patterson was much more subtle in his approach and would plan the punch ahead of time. He did this to spectacular effect in his 2nd fight vs Johansson. He would use that slip movement and attack the body of the Swede with a left hook. Knowing later down the line it would create openings up top.
Interestingly this technique was also used often by Mike Tyson in his prime. A move Cus D’Amato (trainer of Floyd Patterson) no doubt passed onto Mike.
The Gazelle Punch is especially good for those with explosive power as you can tell from the above, but they’re also other useful tactics and ways to throw it.
Marvin Hagler Gazelle Jab
Another legend of the sport who used this in a similar way was ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler. Being shorter than most opponents, he would look for a way to close the distance quickly to apply pressure.
Hagler would take advantage of his southpaw stance against orthodox fighters by using a gazelle jab, before quickly switching stance to catch them off guard.
Famously he combined this with leap forward movement while using the shift technique. Something that Tommy Hearns fell victim to! See Hagler using all this below:
The gazelle punch is still something we see used often to this day. But it needs to be thrown at the right time or set up over a period of time as seen in the past. Here are some different examples of boxers using the gazelle punch in more recent times.
Tank Davis – southpaw example
Here is a great example of a southpaw and smaller fighter, Gervonta Tank Davis, using the gazelle hook…
Barrios expects a body shot from Davis by lowering his guard. The way Davis also sticks out the lead hand before he subtly bends helps the punch become more unpredictable. Therefore Barrios lowers his guard helping to create the opening.
Teofimo Lopez – using explosiveness
Fellow rival Teofimo Lopez has also been seen to use the Gazelle Hook to devastating effect too. Due to him jumping and twisting into the air, it causes unbelievable unpredictability on where it will land with hardly any time to defend.
Canelo – closing the distance
Even pound-for-pound star Canelo Alvarez used this in his fight against Caleb Plant. This helped to close the distance and to set up his other shots for the first knockdown of the fight. This was the beginning of the end for Plant after receiving this leaping left hook off the Mexican.
Klitschko – inside centreline
The final example I want to share is by former heavyweight world champion Wladimir Klitschko. The Ukrainian would throw his Gazelle Hook slightly differently from all the above. Instead of keeping his head off the centerline on the outside. Klitschko would instead move his head off the centreline to the right before throwing the Gazelle Punch.
This is a lot riskier because the opponent could throw straight down the middle. But if you time at the right moment it can completely surprise your opponent.
The gazelle punch is still clearly a devastating technique still used to this day in the sweet science. But it’s all about setting up, timing, and perfect execution for it to work in the ring.
This is a great technique to use if you are slightly smaller in size and are looking for a way to create hesitation, and openings, apply pressure, close the gap or even look for the knockout.
I recommend you check out Coach Anthony’s video below if you want to try it out yourself
Make sure to check out more boxing technique articles below:
- The Shift Technique in Boxing
- The Science Behind The Shoulder Roll Technique In Boxing
- 6 Key Boxing Defensive Techniques – Hit And Don’t Get Hit
- Top 12 Advantages Of Being A Southpaw Boxer
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