Body Punching in Amateur Boxing…Ouch!

by Fran on February 6, 2012

Did you ever see the film 'White Men Can't Jump'?  You know the one, the early Nineties basketball film starring Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes.  OK, so it's a fairly obvious racial stereotype but does that make it untrue?

For what it's worth, I think that in fact white men can jump.  It's just that black basketball players are far more in the public eye as the top players because the true superstars (a la Jordan and Johnson) happen to be black.  The fact that most top basketball players happen to be black could be put down to a whole host of factors, none of which I am going to even attempt to address here (although my ignorance of basketball could well be one of them).  The fact is though, a stereotype is definitely at play.

I often hear a similar stereotype used when comparing the sports of professional boxing and amateur boxing, and in particular with regards the art of body punching.  There is a popular belief that in the amateurs body punching is not part of the game, that they are not used in the attempt to incapacitate a determined foe.  One of the most popularly recited chants is "The judges don't score body punches."  Another oft-used statement is that amateurs don't go for power with their shots, as if by throwing a lighter punch in some way scores more effectively than any other type of punch.

Well, for me, amateurs punch in all departments just as well as the pros.  The points scoring system lends itself more readily to single and double shots being landed (although aggression and combinations are definitely making a comeback due to scoring changes), whereas the pro game is much more about setting the feet and hammering home big combinations.  But, don't ever mistake this strategic variation in approach as amateurs not being able to throw power punches, or the even more misguided position of believing that body punches don't exist in the amateurs.

In this article I am going to show you how amateur boxers DO use body punching.  As a coach I know that I place lots of emphasis on landing effective body punches.  Do judges score body punching in the same way as head shots?  Well, the rule book says that they should, but going with the benefit of the doubt maybe it's more difficult to clearly spot body punches landing in order to score them.  But, and here's the thing, even if the judges don't score effective body punching, the opponent will most definitely score them.

All of which brings me neatly onto the matter of one Vasyl Lomachenko, a Ukrainian fighter widely regarded as one of the best amateur boxers in the world.  In this fight he takes on Tongan Lomalit Moala in the preliminaries of the 2011 AIBA World Amateur Boxing Championships in Baku.  Here's the video then below are some key points that I've picked out:

OK, my key points:

  • From the outset, Lomachenko by uses constant ducking and slipping to not only provide a defensive 'blanket' but also to use as feints to exert pressure on the opponent.  Check out the article on Feinting in Boxing to find out more.
  • From about 1:00 to 1:05 we see short bursts of body punches from Lomachenko.  The left hook to the body and the right hook to the body both being used, albeit reversed as Lomachenko is a southpaw.
  • Notice also that as well as using the slips, Lomachenko is using very subtle diagonal foot movement to the left and diagonal foot movement to the right to better position himself to land his own shots and to provide himself maximum leverage to land those shots.
  • At 1:50 to 1:55 we see the end, perfectly landed hooks behind the defending arms of the unfortunate challenger.  Having taken shots like that myself as a boxer, I can testify to the very dark and miserable place that they send you to!
So, next time you hear someone say "Amateurs don't use body punching", just remember that the smart ones absolutely do.  Remember also that the judges may miss the points scored, but your opponent will score them for sure.
Cheers
Fran
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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Coşqun June 26, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Hi Fran im from Baku

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Fran June 27, 2015 at 8:55 pm

Hi Coşqun

I hope that you are enjoying the European championships 🙂

Thank you for visiting the site

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AlexL November 6, 2013 at 8:51 am

Thanks once again Fran. Keep highlighting the skills. There are too many **** coaches in and around most Boxing Clubs these days. Who can’t see past the ‘boot camp’ mentality. No idea of boxing skills or boxing intelligence – better suited to Athletics training – head down and rush for the finishing line. Bahh.

I would say the Amateur Boxing Chiefs in the UK are among the worst. Gee whizz, the number of ex boxing champs, greats, pro and amateur, I meet, who are not allowed into the ‘competition areas’, or into ‘the corner’ of someone they have been training – because they don’t have some tuppence halfpenny ‘official coaches certificate’ – or have been a pro – says it all.

You are like the Messiah at this time Fran. A breathe of fresh air, the ‘dancin master’, ha, ha. Please keep preaching the science of boxing, Amen, Hoots and Och Aye!

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Fran November 7, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Some fine Scottish thinking there Alex 🙂 Thanks for the comment. I agree it’s pretty strange that there’s reluctance to allow pros/ex-pros to be involved in the sport, whether they have the certificate or not. I understand the reasons for having a qualification as a coach, including insurance and ensuring a ‘minimum standard’ of knowledge. But I feel that the game does suffer with taking the anti-pro stance. These guys have that boxing intelligence you mention in spades, all ready to be passed on to youngsters.

Thanks for the comment Alex, appreciated as always.

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Justin November 6, 2013 at 8:12 am

Great work it’s always good to bring the kids on with there footwork. Many are keen to let there hands go but don’t realise the importance of being in the target zone. I say to them you can throw all the shits in the world but if you don’t move those feet it’s a waste of time.
Great variation Fran of moving to create angles, done kids love to throw a certain shot and creating those angles allow this.
As a coach myself I’m keen to learn as much and absorb everything I can. Thanks to your gear work it’s bringing me along nicely as a coach and a boxer.
Great work keep em coming 🙂

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Fran November 7, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Thanks Justin, it’s really great that you feel this stuff is good to both use yourself but also to coach young fighters. Hats off to you mate.

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Paul Smith October 24, 2013 at 9:40 am

Hey Fran,

It’s my pleasure to share the info…..I’ve mentioned this site over there and Chris mentioned he had corresponded with you in the past…he said that you were a ‘great guy’.
The free uploads may have dropped off, but in the HD members section there is access to just about every major match from around the world, plus documentaries and sometimes GoldenBoy and Showtime boxing promo shows.
As far as you posting videos from there to here…well, I think that every member here owes it to themself to join SoSo and get access to all the live streaming pay per view and archived boxing matches.

In any regard, I will be checking in to read your fight analysis.

Cheers Coach

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Fran October 22, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Hey mate

Thanks for the link. I’m a big fan of SoSo. Noticed that video uploads have dropped off a little lately and while I think that membership is great for me it won’t let me post the vid for the most important people, you the site users. On the bright side though, I have found the video for Vasyl and in line with your request/suggestion will be writing the first fight analysis I’ve done in a while. Watch this space 🙂

Cheers pal

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Paul Smith October 15, 2013 at 7:06 am

Greetings Fran,

I just saw Vasily Lomachenko’s scheduled 10 round pro debut match and he was spectacular! The techniques he displayed were like many of the lessons you teach here and just as this article pointed out, he destroyed his opponent with a devastating body shot in the 4th round — it sent the guy rolling across the canvas like he had been shot!

He is now the WBO International Featherweight Champion and there is already talk of him possibly fighting for a World title by his second matchup and a future super-match against Guillermo Rigondeaux — INCREDIBLE!

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Fran October 16, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Hi mate

Hope you are well. Haven’t caught the fight yet, but hope to this week. For me, it’s going to be a breath of fresh air. The idea of hime lining up against Rig is genuinely mouth-watering. I’d like to see him get a few more bouts under his belt before that, but because he’s been boxing in WSB he’s had some good 6-rounders against top quality guys. This definitely gives him a head-start. Let’s see how he goes 🙂

Nice to catch up, thanks for the comment Paul.

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littlehen July 28, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Hiya Fran,
Thank you for your article and all the above comments.
Tomorrow is my IABA judging course.
I’m excited to obtain my certification to keep my club top of it’s game.
To be the club’s only female certified coach and after tomorrow judge, it’s a true honour.

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Fran July 29, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Hey Littlehen

I hope that your judging course went to plan. I train female boxers and work alongside a female coach. It’s incredibly important that people like you continue to increase the presence of women in the sport. Well done and keep up the good work at O’Hanlon Park. Ireland has a rich history of producing top amateurs and pros, you’ve a lot to live up to!

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Mat June 14, 2012 at 10:10 am

Hi Fran, watching that clip has really inspired me. Keeping it simple really works! I’ve looked thought most of your articles and really like. I’m Southpaw but find Conventional better, want to mix it up though. I have my first white collar fight in July, and want to go Ameteur after. Could you give some tips? I’m fitter and stronger than I’ve ever been.

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Fran June 16, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Thanks Mat.

In terms of tips, you answered your own question. Keep things simple. Simple foot movements, good blocking and solid jabs and straight back hands. Secondly, make sure that as well as your gym work you are doing running too, so important. If you are left-handed, then stick with southpaw for now. Learn your basics, then think about switching some time in the future.

Hope this helps Mat. Good luck with your training mate.

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Scott March 2, 2012 at 11:42 am

Hi Fran,
Really great site and fantastic info. Nice article on body punching, in your commentary you mentioned Lomachenko uses diagonal steps to the left and right to set up the angles for the shots, in an orthodox v orthodox fight is it also possible to create a similar position by a slight right pivot at mid range? I’ve watched a couple of Bernard Hopkins fights and he seems to do this a lot.
Thanks in advance
Scott

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Fran March 4, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Absolutely Scott, pivoting before or during a hook is a perfect way of opening angles, against orthodox or southpaw. Lots of the top guys do this so it’s well worth practicing. Thanks for the kind comment and good question Scott.

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Paul Smith February 21, 2012 at 1:29 am

Wow, now that sounds Great!
I look forward to seeing you both soon on ESPN.
: )

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Paul Smith February 19, 2012 at 11:13 pm

Fran,
I share your sentiments and now think that they have done more harm to their careers and character as ‘men’, than to the sport of boxing.
Although I never knew of Gary Mason as a fighter, I did read about his funeral in the Daily Mail. It appeared he was well regarded as a gentle giant, who happened to lose only once as a pro ( to Lennox Lewis no less) and also as a gentleman outside the ring.
Plus, Lennox Lewis may have won gold for Canada, but the Brits helped to nurture him as a pro fighter and turned him into a respected world champion and we can be proud of that fact. Besides, he beat Tyson – like a drum and I’d be willing to bet, that if you had a heavyweight fighter to train, you would make him a better fighter and man than the two aforementioned ‘idiots’ Chisora and Haye.

Cheers Fran.

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Fran February 20, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Lol, maybe so mate. There is a Heavy coming through over here, from my home city of Liverpool. A very well trained amateur and he’s making a really sound start to his pro career. Worthing keeping an eye on, his name’s David Price. Certainly one to watch, could be our most standout Heavy since Lewis.

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Paul Smith February 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Impressive display of feinting and power punching.
It looks like the Ukrainian fighters are the new breed of well disciplined and controlled fighters, likely due to the positive influence of the Klitschko brothers.
Sadly, Chisora and Haye have done nothing good for the sport of boxing with their extremely disgraceful recent behaviour.

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Scott Hamilton February 14, 2012 at 4:00 pm

@Dimauppercutman (Thats a mouthful?!!)

Email: fran@myboxingcoach.com

Scottie

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Fran February 14, 2012 at 6:37 pm

🙂

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Dimauppercutman February 14, 2012 at 8:26 am

can i have some exersize tips for strength and speed punching, my local boxing gym was taken down, and i gotta do some home training, any help would be appreciated

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Scott Hamilton February 13, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Good evening coach!
Real class act Lomachenko is Fran, Impressive to say the least! Would be of great value to the lads in the club if some discs could be made up for them to view & learn from guys at the very top of their game like him? I know we’ve spoke before about guys watching the likes of Floyd Mayweather & Roy Jones JNR & somehow trying to copy aspects of their game & how they have to realise how many hours, weeks, months & years of hardwork & dedication have ‘gone into’ perfecting them skills. By watching GREAT amatuers like Lomachenko , (although as mentioned, he is also at the top of his game) can give them boxers to aspire to be like that are more realistic. I mean the way that finish came about was textbook body punching, doubling up body & head on the right side whilst (I think) always knowing he was setting the Tongan up for that perfectly timed left hook to the body! You could learn as much watching this as you ever could watching Roberto Duran, Mike McCallum or Ricky Hatton!
As long as body punching remains legal in amatuer boxing, it will ALWAYS be a part of it! I mean, its hard not to score a punch that has literally folded your opponent in half isnt it?!:-)

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Fran February 14, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Absolutely spot on our Scott. I would recommend any amateur boxer who wishes to reach the top of their take in as much Lomachenko time as possible. Speed, precision, accuracy, pressure, defensive solidity, shot variation and to tie it all together footwork that is quite simply out of this world.

Body punching can never take second place in any fight strategy. Land those head shots as often as possible, but by mixing in well focused body shots the task of winning is made more simple.

Great comment Scottie.

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Ivan February 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm

You rarely see a real KO in amateur contests especially in the feather weight division. The head gear and big gloves make it hard for head shots to push the button. Well there’s no gear for the liver and Lomachenko certainly knows where to find it – being a southpaw, Lomachenko delivered the final blow with backhand power, but he set it well.

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Fran February 7, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Good point Ivan. I reckon there are more actual KOs with body shots in the amateurs than head shots. Having been on the end of exactly this type of body shot many times I am always happy to encourage boxers to use them as often as possible. Forget that whole thing of body shots wearing an opponent down, which of course they do, body shots can end a fight in an instant.

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Ken February 6, 2012 at 5:28 pm

It looked to me as if the loser was short of breath and in pain,whereas Vasily looked fresh enough,at the end,that he could have gone on to a wedding and honeymoon,directly.

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Fran February 7, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Yeah Ken, that shortness of breath/pain thing really gets in the way of well-being! Some fighter Lomachenko.

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Mo February 6, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Good article, I beat a guy my 7th fight two weeks ago who had a record of 60-10 with a left hook to the body. Now im going to the National championships!!! wish me luck!!!

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Fran February 6, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Good to hear from you again Mo. Outstanding achievement, and we’ve got it straight from the horse’s mouth that body punching is as important now as it’s ever been. I won’t wish you luck in the national champs as I’ve got the feeling that a boxer like you will make his own luck. Go and get yourself a title champ!

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