Right Hook at Short Range – The Holyfield Special!

by Fran on April 27, 2010

About the Short Range Right Hook

Infighting, inside fighting, or boxing at very close range, tests a boxer’s skills to the limit.  The margin for error is slight and there is real need to provide a significant threat to the opponent whilst maintaining a solid defence.  The ‘Fight Tactics – Range’ article provides some background on short range boxing and is well worth checking out if you have yet to do so.  As part of the battery of skills used during infighting, the short range right hook is absolutely vital, and when used in conjunction with other short range shots has the potential to bring proceedings to a swift conclusion!  Watch any Evander Holyfield fight and you’ll see how adept he was at delivering the short range right hook with both speed and power.  It’s probably the single most powerful punch that a right-handed (orthodox) boxer can throw.  A right hook thrown at short range is massively destructive, make no mistake about this.

As you watch the video and work your way through the article I hope that it becomes apparent that, as with many other shots, the art of delivering the perfect short range right hook is economy of movement coupled with explosive drive from the legs.  Whilst throwing the shot with maximum power is all well and good, it should be appreciated that a boxer is most vulnerable when throwing a shot, particularly a short range shot!  Take careful note of the mechanics of the shot and focus on ensuring that it travels as short a distance as possible.  The shorter the hook, the more powerful the impact and the more protection that you retain as you throw the punch.  OK, watch the video then be sure to leave a comment!

The Mechanics of the Short Range Right Hook

The mechanics of the short right hook can be explained as follows:

  1. From the boxing stance, the first action is an explosive thrust from the back foot which in turn drives a major rotation of the the hips and therefore the upper body.
  2. The front leg bends in order to accommodate the rotation of the body.
  3. As the rotation is taking place, the right arm (backhand) accelerates toward the target at a 45 degree angle (unlike the mid-range right hook which lands horizontally or uppercuts which land vertically.)  This acceleration takes place over a very short distance, often no more than 3 to 6 inches, and is generated as the result of a ‘whiplash’ action.
  4. As the shot approaches the target (palm facing towards you), the fist clenches as ‘snaps’ onto the target.
  5. After the shot lands, the arm returns to the ‘home’ position as quickly as possible, as per the boxing stance.

Common Faults with the Short Range Right Hook

The common faults that can occur when throwing a short range right hook are:

  1. The boxer allows their body weight to transfer ‘over’ their front leg.  Whilst there is a redistribution of weight, allowing the momentum of the shot to ‘pull’ the body behind it will result in a loss of balance, tipping you forward and to the left…right into the path of an opponent’s right hand…bad news!
  2. The left hand can drop as the shot lands.  This is a common fault with inexperienced boxers as their focus is on the right hand and not the left hand in the guard position.
  3. The boxer allows the punch to become an upper-body movement.  Ensure that the rotation of the upper-body is generated by the thrust from the back leg.
  4. The boxer should not ‘lean’ on the opponent when fighting on the inside.  This is not only against the rules but will reduce potential for punching at a high rate and can lead to overbalancing forward if the opponent suddenly retreats.

Remember that short range punches such as the right hook travel only a few inches.  It stands to reason then that a boxer can often throw as many as 4 or 5 alternated short range shots per second.  These shots will not only be delivered at a rapid rate, but also carry quite a bit of ‘punch’ and the opponent will know that they’ve been hit!



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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

japneet singh April 4, 2016 at 5:49 am

I was thinking all these world star videos and guys getting knocked out with a punch they don’t see the guys talking and boom big punch and the guys knocked out I believe it’s the short right lol has to be they don’t wind back there literally talking and boom hit them hard anyone know what I’m talking about?


mystery boxer June 19, 2014 at 9:58 am

Someday I will die .I love you Fran


Fran June 25, 2014 at 8:58 pm

I hope not too soon 🙂


colin August 16, 2013 at 1:57 am

Yeah I kinda thought that seems some people just don’t like using the term right hook for some reason.


colin scott August 11, 2013 at 2:49 am

A lot of the American fighters use the terms short right hand,looping right hand and overhand right.
Do you know anything about these shots,I’m not too sure what they mean exept maybe the overhand one.


Fran August 11, 2013 at 8:57 pm

to be honest Colin, they are variations on the right hook really (long range). The overhand comes down a little as it travels to the target, but other than this they are variations on a theme.


colin scott August 11, 2013 at 2:31 am

Cheers mate makes perfect sense 😉


colin scott August 6, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Or is it easier to use the target area to define a shot ie: around the opponents guard would be a hook or overhand through the middele of the guard would be straight/cross ect..


Fran August 8, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Just to expand on the previous point, using the descriptions you have picked is definitely helpful to visualise the path of your shot to the target. But the way I define the type of shot is based purely upon the path (or angle) that the boxer chooses to release the shot along. I say this because if you use the pivot to open a flanking angle on the opponent, then any hook you throw will travel between the opponent’s guard to land on the chin as opposed to ’round the guard’ to land on the jaw as it would on a face-to-face use.

Hope this makes sense and helps 🙂


colin scott August 5, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Great site mate,Packed with info.
I have been getting confused by all the different terms you hear people use to describe right hands,But the way you break it down makes it easier to understand.
I was wondering though if throw a right hand straight down the middle but cant get full extension on it due to range then would this then be called a hook or short straight/cross..?


Fran August 8, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Hey Colin. Thanks for the kind words. In terms of your question, I’d say that the shot is still a straight right hand, it has just failed to fully extend. It would obviously still land with some power, but it’s probably better to go with the hook/uppercuts at that range. Good question though, cheers pal.


MT July 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm

It was something that got me curious, that I read in an article about boxing over the internet as I was looking for boxing moves:
“Donovan “Razor” Ruddock adapted a left uppercut to finish as a power jab in a specialty punch he called “The Smash.” Muhammad Ali adopted a trick his wife taught him from her martial-arts training, and would often throw a chopping blow to an opponent’s shoulders in order to slow their return punches. Other modern fighters, like Paulie Malignaggi, throw what’s called an “up-jab” since their style keeps the jab hand intentionally low. Now-retired Joe Calzaghe was a master of the “shoeshine” technique of overwhelming an opponent with a tornado of quick punches from all directions. Whatever unconventional methods you might adapt, always wait until after you have full control of all the basics.

Read more: Best Boxing Moves | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/way_5375782_boxing-moves.html#ixzz215Ag1RNf

I was interested in that, and in the “flicker jab” used by Thomas Hearns.


Fran July 23, 2012 at 8:48 pm

OK, I see.

What you have described in terms of the ‘smash’ is a feint long range left uppercut turned into a jab. A similar shot is the screw-shot, which is a feint long range right hook to the body turned into a head shot mid-flight. It’s all about triggering a defence response to the first ‘shot’ only to take advantage of that response with the second shot. Nice comment as well, thanks for taking the time to explain.


MT July 26, 2012 at 10:25 am

Thanks for your answer!


MT July 17, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Thanks for your great site!
Could you talk about the smash?
Is it often used, and how can I learn it?

Looking forward to your response,



Fran July 18, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Thanks MT.

You are going to need to tell me a little more about the ‘smash’. Never heard associated with a particular boxing skill.


Raj February 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm

And knocked out Botha easy.


Fran February 29, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Hey Raj. Put together a short article on this shot. Rolling back the years. Here’s the link to ‘Best Knockouts…Tyson Style!


Raj February 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm

If you wanna see the perfect short range right hook, it’s Mike Tyson VS Andre Botha. The perfect punch. He twisted his whole body into it.


Fran February 25, 2012 at 7:18 pm

No argument. That was a beautifully short shot, traveled a few inches but landed with the power of a wrecking ball.


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