Counter Punching Power – Russian Style

by Fran on April 28, 2012


Just recently I’ve put together 2 articles, one called Counter Punching and Boxing – The Difference and another entitled Punching Power – The 5 Building Blocks.

Well, the Gods of the Internet have indeed been kind to us and I have stumbled across what I believe is one of the finest coaching videos that I have come across on YouTube.

This video I believe ties in some of the key elements from both articles.  It’s just 10 minutes long and is well worth taking the time to watch.

Below the video I have made 5 key observations from my point of view.

I know that there are many more, but I’d like to see what kind of issues that you might pick out.

As always I’ll start the discussion off but I do genuinely enjoy gaining valuable contributions from you.

So, get your views aired in the comments section.

1.  Counter punching power

In many ways this pad session captures perfectly the approach to modern international amateur boxing. The computerized scoring system that has been in place for many years now has lead to a variety of changes in boxer’s styles. There is a much greater emphasis, particularly in the Eastern European nations, on landing single and double power punches, giving the judges every chance to be able to press their button and register the point. In effect, combinations and flurries of punches play a lesser role.

In terms of the key notes, think about the following:

  • The repetition of the shots is key to developing power.  The coach allows the boxer to repeat the same shot over and over again and this allows the shot to really engage all of the punching muscles in the correct order.
  • The coach consistently pops out his lead hand (his jab), and the boxer as a southpaw reacts in a particular way. I’m going to get onto the aspects specific to being a southpaw in a moment.  However the key thing to identify is that the boxer uses the natural movement of throwing his own punch to avoid incoming punches.  When throwing a left cross (exactly the same as the right cross for the orthodox), the boxer’s head moves from left to right as part of the shot.  Therefore the incoming jab misses and the back hand slams into the target as the opponent’s arm is extended.  Pure counter punching excellence.  This is a constant theme throughout the pad session, use the movement of your own shot to make the opponent’s shot miss and make that opponent pay.
This is a highly talented boxing coach working in a very pragmatic way to prepare his boxers for success at international level in amateur boxing.  Sheer class.

2.  Combine skills for more Power

A major factor in delivering power shots is to combine skills. So for example, you can combine the roll inside with the short left hook and increase your punching power. Just think Mike Tyson! You could also combine the lay back with the long range right hook and have the same result, more punching power. You will notice though that these skills are combined one after the other. In our video here, a slightly different approach is taken.

Our Russian southpaw boxer here in the first 30 seconds of the video combines the pivot with the long range lead hand hook and the long range lead hand uppercut.  Now this helps in two ways.  Firstly it is a brilliant way in which to avoid the incoming punch whilst remaining in range to land shots of your own.  Secondly it leads to a major increase in the punching power.  This is really an outstanding technique to spend some time mastering, especially when you meet an opponent with an opposing stance, so for southpaws it should be an integral part of the armoury.  All in all which leads me neatly onto…

3.  Southpaw master class

If you are a southpaw, or you coach southpaws, you really want to pay close attention to some of the interactions between the coach and the boxer here. For the majority of the session, the coach remains in the orthodox stance. Throughout the session the coach pops out the lead hand and the southpaw responds accordingly, be it with the pivot/hook/uppercut, or slamming the straight back hand to the chest or the head, all of the time using the natural movement of his own shot to avoid the orthodox jab.

Those eagle-eyed observers will also notice the interesting foot dance. Watch how the southpaw always seeks to get his lead foot ‘outside’ of the orthodox boxer’s lead foot. This is one of the most critical success factors when working against an opposing stance. If you keep your lead foot to the outside of your opponent’s lead foot then you ensure that you keep that opponent perfectly in your strike zone. This is covered in much greater detail in the Southpaw Versus Orthodox Explained! report as described on the home page of the site.

4. Instinctive reactions

There is something that goes on in the video that I think is well worth pointing out. It’s pretty innocuous really, hardly noticeable at all in fact. There are numerous instances of the coach talking to the boxer, but at the same time the coach’s lead hand moves slightly. When this happens the boxer’s lead hand reacts accordingly, looking to execute a lead hand block or a lead hand parry.

This is quite simply the boxer’s instinct in action. Honed during round after round of sparring and fighting, this is the boxer’s sub-conscious response to threat. He is involved in a conversation with the coach yet when the coach’s lead hand makes a movement the boxer instantly reacts. This instinct is so vital in the sport of boxing and will only be developed by gaining experience during sparring and fighting; it must become ingrained. I’m sure that you can see how this instinctive reaction is so beneficial to counter punching. All I will add is that when you block a shot, throw one back…it’s the law!

5. Medicine ball drill

To put it into simple terms, I absolutely love this drill. It is a superbly sport-specific exercise that develops the groups of muscles that are key to maximizing your punching power. The drill starts at around 7:30 on the video and it is fairly obvious how it is done without my going into detail here. It is an outstanding element to add into the training regime, especially as a method for improving our straight shots.

There is one tip that I would add. I worked on this drill with my boxers last week and found that the more direct and straight the trajectory of the ball in flight, the more technically correct the shot. This is obviously when working with the jab and the right cross. If the ball does not travel directly towards the partner (target), then there is a problem for example the ball might be being released too soon in the rotation.


So there you have it, a coach-eye view of a fellow coach working his magic.  This video is an outstanding insight into the Eastern European amateur boxing conveyor belt that consistently churns out European, World and Olympic champions.  Counter punching, punching power and southpaw skills all demonstrated in a wonderfully concise 10 minute video.

Don’t forget, let me have your comments below.



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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

alexander June 25, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Hi Fran, me again, being a ‘smart Alec’. That Tennis Ball on a string thing, in the video. My eastern European pal at the gym, used to do that, but he got miffed when I said I didn’t think it had much to do with Boxing. More to do with Kung Fu fighters, watching flys, and snatching them, with tweezers.

My reasoning based on my upbringing, that a boxer focuses on a central point, on the chin, face, between the eyes, in the face, or as in my case just below the neck, where they can register any movement of the body, and react. And it is the ‘peripheral vision’ that matters, ie, the head and eye doesn’t go looking for the glove (like a fly). Its an auto-reactive response, to what will become a fist, or two, zooming straight at you, and not just about catching, a moving object.

And another thing, which agitates me in some gyms, is what I call the swinging Peanut Bags (not speed balls) often light, sometimes very heavy, as in this Video. And in this video they are just being used like long hung punch bags, almost like ‘keepie uppie’ with your fists. To what point I ask. One, can do that with a light straight bag.

In my upbringing, these swing bags, were about learning how to slip, duck, retreat, while hitting from the side, below, and on the turn. With the emphasis on foot work. And as I still do, you get these bags swinging, by punching, or pushing, and follow them through. And with the big heavy hard ones, coming at you on the back swing, you have to use a lot of parrying, and light combinations off the back foot, or else get flattened. Which will give your gym mates a good laff.

I could go on, about a lot of other gym items that I don’t think are being used properly. Or as were used when I was a boy. Eighteen and twenty ounce horse hair gloves, in sparring, no focus/puff pads; Road work, with heavy boots for endurance, when 4 minute rounds were common, so what point short sprints; why use speed balls for boring spin ball, as if hitting popeye style cartoon characters, when it should involve, dead balling, two speed changing, double countering; and what of gyms that are more like body builders salons, pushing and pulling heavy weights, whatever happened to ‘wall pulleys’.

Sorry for this guff, but it might give you, food for thought, broaden your approach. On top of Fran’s good advice. And I better check out email number two now, you probably have already covered this Fran. Cheers, Alexander.


Fran June 28, 2014 at 7:34 pm


It’s not guff, it’s solid history around boxing training techniques and remains absolutely relevant. Pads (focus mitts) are an invention of the last 40 years. The swing bag back in my day too was for the same purpose as you state. Fact is, nowadays there are lots of strength and conditioning elements that boxers are expected to use. Given that S&C tends to not ‘float my boat’, I leave that stuff to other coaches in the gym. I love the world of technical improvement and solid ‘skills endurance’, probably similar to your good self 🙂


alexander June 25, 2014 at 8:15 am

Thanks Fran, loved that first video, first part, replayed that more than a few times. Will get round to the rest soon. The best example of how a South Paw should apply tactics that I have ever seen. Should be compulsory viewing for all SP’s.

Only noticeable minor technical point for me, is that that Pads, and coaches using them, as here, do at times, seem to encourage the Boxer to drop or pull back their guard hand from the chin. Not sure if it is that the pads are often held too wide. Causing the Boxer to over-reach. And not punishing the Boxer, with a slap hand, for lingering in the inside zone, with dropped hand, and not stepping out, having executed the drill. It can breed a bad habit.

To make sense of what I am saying. One of my favourite Coaches after yourself, is Jeff Mayweather. And as he puts it, ‘never leave the garage door open when you leave the house, or someones gonna come inside’. Otherwise, when one hand goes out, the other should move up, or across, and cover the chin and jaw region (the garage door). Certainly not swing away to the side or rear, as in this video at times.

And for anyone who thinks that isn’t important, well look, at a number of top class boxers in the last few years, even months, who have been winning, and then were laid out flat, as they sloppily left the garage door momentarily open. And the ‘canny intruder’ or ‘sneaky sniper’ shot in. Yes they can.

And have to say, a lot of them had been coached with ‘wee Freddie’, the one time king of the Pads, whom I do much admire. And having said that, it does cross my mind, that the two big Ukrainian/Russian brothers, canny remember their name here, impressed me very much with their long reach stunning jabs, but suffered a number of knockdowns, by much smaller opponents, who took advantage of momentarily open garage door.

Hope that makes some, constructive sense, not criticising, Cheers.



Fran June 27, 2014 at 10:06 pm

Hey Alexander

Sorry for the delay.

Comment that oozes common sense as usual. Longevity in boxers (a key measure of greatness for me) demands that a boxers learns the appropriate measure of defensive capability right from the outset. It’s a smart observation too. Many of the Eastern European boxers have this loose, relaxed style at mid to long range. It could well be a vulnerability at amateur level and certainly would be in the pro ranks, maybe the Kiltschko brothers have an element of that. But as you say, in other departments they appear to make up for it!

I was using this pad technique this very night with a young southpaw. They certainly enjoy it but I was maybe a bit relaxed about the finishing position. I usually demand a head movement after a shot lands!

Great comment Alex, hope others get the positives I take from it.



Pete June 24, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Hi Fran

Hope you are well. The article and video were really interesting. I can’t wait for your video. Hope it arrives soon.




Fran June 25, 2014 at 9:17 pm

I am well thanks Pete. I hope life’s treating you well too.

Video’s up now – click here.



robert November 11, 2013 at 8:12 pm

wow what a vid love the work . what are the pads on the wall the kids are hitting?


Viktor September 19, 2013 at 12:15 am

Hi, Fran
very interresting video!
to use overhead/cross instead of jab … it’s different. slower but stronger. normal for southpow but unusual for an orthodox . Can’t say , imho, that it’s pure soviet scool staff, essentially those Naseem Hamed style uppercuts from the first soouthpow guy.

As you talking about Russians, I wanted to show you the links to the couple of rare soviet videos –
one about 3 ways of playing tactics,
others about in-fight , cubain, american and german schools, fight against southpow and training.
you could see some boxers of Ogurenkov’s team -golden age of soviet boxing. In the first video you can see Victor Ageev -03:40 – a kind of genius,
would be interesting to read your comments about that old style amator boxing comparatly to the modern


Fran September 22, 2013 at 8:26 pm


Thanks for the comment and for the fantastic collection videos. I will take some time to go through them and write some posts, including a comparison.

Really appreciate that Viktor.


Alex September 17, 2012 at 11:59 am

Hello Fran, thanks for this wonderful site, you’re a Tyson among pretenders in that regard 🙂

I was wondering what type of punch is being thrown at the start of the video after the first 2-3 lead-hand hooks?

Thanks mate 🙂


Fran September 19, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Hey Alex

That’s a good spot. It’s somewhere between a long range uppercut and a long range hook. A key thing to spot is that he is combining it with a pivot. Really neat and very effective southpaw punch.


Alex September 20, 2012 at 1:16 am

Thanks for getting back to me, Fran :). I’m probably not an experienced enough observer to say this, but his pivot work looks fantastic for those shots. I showed the video to a friend and his first remark was ‘practicing for Hollywood!’, it’s a very aesthetic shot to watch. Thanks again, Fran.


Fran May 11, 2012 at 10:35 am

That’s excellent Paul. He’s at a good age and if he maintains his determined approach then there’s nothing stopping him from achieving his goals. Have a great weekend Paul.


Paul Smith May 8, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Great lessons here Fran and thank you for the interpretation Ivan!


Fran May 9, 2012 at 7:46 am

Thanks Paul. Yep, he knows his stuff does our Ivan.

Thanks mate, hope things are going well.


Dave I May 7, 2012 at 2:15 pm

I have seen that tennis ball drill before.It was part of Kosta Tszyu’s training schedule.It was his way of developing his hand to eye co-ordination.


Fran May 7, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Must be an Eastern European standard then.


Ivan April 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Hi Fran,
Being a flagship school, Russian boxing always offers a lot to think about. They created the Cuban school and now they wander how to beat them, but still the two school have a lot in common.
The clip is fun to watch, now let me see it with my boxing spectacles and think of some ex-amateur wisecracks.

The young prospect is using bag gloves for the pad work and it makes him look fast and furious, if it’s for the camera, fine. We always had to wear full size and weight gloves for the mitts drills, for our own benefit and for the coaches hands well-being. Those drills must be automated with competition gloves on if you are going to compete.
The southpaw youngster has no doubt great future but I can’t believe the coach lets him keep his hands low, his chin up and allows his hand to drop his hand to the waist after a punch. Taking such liberties even off camera would have cost me a slap with the pad from my old coach, first slightly, than with scoring impact, and those mitts hurt around the edges.
Now to the bright side of the session, the countering drills in the beginning are impressive and the coach has taught the boy proper timing. The boxer initiates the lead hand counter at the same time he initiates the sidestep, so by the time his front foot hits the ground, the punch lands. I’ve seen good pros duck or slip first and try to hit after they resume stance – too late.
Southpaws are awkward for everyone including each other, since they fight another southpaw as rarely as anyone. When they solve your right hand and send you circling clockwise, they think they’ve got your number. With the foot outside or not, every time they jab, they are more vulnerable to the body than an orthodox guy, and the body is easier to nail cleanly. When they jab, they offer the liver as a bonus to the solar plexus. Whether you roll under and dig a right in the plexus slicing towards the liver, or duck and aim a left hook to the liver, a jab is all you have to worry about before you reorganize. This excellent Russian coach was explaining a similar situation to his charge when they drilled the back hand cross counter through the arc of an incoming southpaw jab at 2.40. He said the opponent will jab with 300 kilos of force, while his boy’s counter will be 700 kilos, so he has to be confident. My old coach would say about such drills “They are simple, they just aren’t easy “.


Fran April 30, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Thanks for the translation Ivan. Your comments are very considered and in my opinion accurate. The lax defence is something that I picked up on also. I would always recommend moving that head after the shot, even a simple duck would do it. Interestingly I have a little video I’ve found that I’m going to put some words around. It’s our friend Lomachenko and his tactics for dealing with counter punching Russian southpaws.


DressedToKill April 29, 2012 at 11:51 am

what was that strange looking tennisball-connected-to-my-head- drill at 4:53? I am looking for cheap additional drills which is possible to do outside of boxing gym (at home) and that looks good for that. I am totally beginner in boxing, but according to my general knowledge of sports and human anatomy, it seems that goal is to train eye-hand coordination, right?

What do you Fran think, is it a good drill? And if you recommend it for beginner, is there some points or instructions which I should remember when doing that? Or should i just try to do same than this guy in this video?


Fran April 30, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Yeah, I like that drill too! I’ve seen it used before although it’s not something I’ve tried in gym yet. I’ve seen footage of Vasyl Lomachenko using it too. So it appears to be a tried and tested eastern European method of training. And yes, it has to be hand-eye co-ordination working with split second reactions. Keep the shots light, pure reactions, no power.


Brett April 28, 2012 at 10:41 pm

The rear power hand shots thrown at 5:30, are those right crosses, straight rights, right hooks or a type of a looping right?? They seem to have more of a swing like a hook than the thrust of a straight shot.


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