Tag Archives: trainers

Lack of Mastery What Boxing Fans Knock about Other Fighting Sports

by Al Alvir

MMA, as well as all forms of kickboxing, have found little acceptance from the boxing public, and the reason for the divide has been recently toiled over by experts, over and again.  Besides the cultural divide that adds to the boxing-mma discord – poverty versus prosperity, individuality versus class structure, way of life versus self-defense – boxing people seem to just not respect how everyone else boxes.

That sounds fair enough.  But mma fans argue that their sport is more exciting, produces more knockouts, and provides better match-ups.

“MMA?  Better match-ups my [expletive],” historian Arthur O’Toole angrily explains with distinct sarcasm. “They get knocked-out because they don’t know the game they’re playing.  They seem great rolling around, but just because Mayweather doesn’t fight Pacquiao, it doesn’t mean mma has better match-ups.  Who wants to watch guys who don’t know what they’re doing trying to box?”  It depends what school of thought you come from when you explore what makes up a better match-up.  If you like a fast pace with the unambiguous game plan precursors in lieu of the intensive strategy of championship boxing, mma appears to make better match-ups, especially when those fights don’t go the distance.

Wilson Lee of SAFO Group says that “people want the immediate satisfaction of mma; short fights, hardly any pawn moves standing up, and mma is easy to understand on the feet.”  The less nuanced mma is exactly what makes some people love it and others hate it.  Lee added, “Besides the fanfare and clichéd effect of mma, and its feigned hardcore imaging, I guess it just doesn’t live up to boxing even in that skill-set [of punching].”

It’s not to dare and say that boxers are superior to other stand-up fighters or that a top Muay Thai kickboxing fighter would never beat a top boxer in a duel of skills; Muay Thai is a fantastically devastating art with many more tools at their disposal than boxers – 6 more limbs and a head butt.  And an mma fighter simply beats a boxer on the ground.  But the argument that O’Toole, for one, makes is that boxing at its best is so much more intricate than any other stand up fighting at its best.  “When these [other martial arts guys] use all these moves, it’s practically always complete stupidity that gets one guy beat.  He gets hit with some retarded haymaker that he showed for 4 rounds or some stupid jumping trick,” O’Toole explained. “They suck at what they do, how the hell am I gonna wanna watch them employ someone else’s art like boxing.”  This notion that fundamentals is lacking in the muddled composition of mma, and even kickboxing, may be as much in your face obvious as it is pervasive to the fighters’ understanding of any detail about strategy and technique.

Not all fighters – even the best – are going to know how to do all moves in most sports.  There are too many moves even in a single discipline of boxing, and there are too many styles of fighting.  There can be a slick pocket fighter like Pernell Whitaker, a stick-and-mover like Muhammad Ali, a workman like JC Chavez, or a stalker like Mike Tyson.  And within those styles are innumerable attributes and signatures and variations.  But all boxers start with only the fundamentals, then they are expected to build their own style of their own constitution.  The problem is that outside of boxing there is a class structure by which fads and imitation rule.  You have practicing fighters learning in groups in settings that don’t address their individual demands.  What works for one fighter is adopted by all, even when inappropriate in style.  “Even in baseball camps, you have a bunch of kids reviewing and practicing the same moves as everyone else,” said Eric Morrissey, an amateur pitcher who recently started boxing training. “But no one gets the particular attention they need.  That structure just never works.”  Like baseball, this problem causes the identities of many mma fighters, besides a few elite ones, to become a confounded mess of borrowed go-to moves that lack the application of any technical process.  Their game plans prove to be overly simple.  O’Toole cites that “mma at its best is just as good as mediocre amateur boxing” and many objective pros on all sides may agree.  I’d say that top stand-up in the mma, to be generous, is more at the level of semi-finalists in USA Boxing amateur tournaments.  They seem like robots with all the poorest habits.

In regards to the more advanced facets of boxing skills, in mma there are so many options that the fighters seem to perceive that they don’t  really need to set-up any brilliant traps.  How often is there what is called “the game within the game” in mma that isn’t obvious even to a confounded viewer or commentator?  At best, and it really is not so impressive, the strategy of mma is almost always “box the wrestler, wrestle the boxer.”  Boxing people argue that mma fighters’ stand-up fundamentals are so poor the majority of the time that deciphering habits in mma is as simple as noticing that one guy holds his hand low:  It’s as though mma trainers can deduce, “His rear hand is a little low so you can throw 5 overhands back to back, and hope for 20% accuracy and a knockout.”  I joke, but to boxing people, they can see mma is that bad without exaggeration.  The material fact is that good strategy at a high level of any sport is not cookie-cutter game plan just as it is not mystery work or mindless trial and error.  “Styles make fights,” so there is great individual application for every top fight, moves and subtleties that are very hard to pick-up on and take months of training aside from instinct.  For a boxing trainer, it takes a quarter of a lifetime to be able to notice the little things that mean so much.  But the intrigue of a masterful competition can only be accomplished when all the details of pure fundamentals are met by both fighters.  Then and only then can good strategy be extracted in stand-up fighting.  It’s less about applying a new move than it is about setting-up the move.

The greatest boxing trainers – like Cus D’Amato, Eddie Futch, Chickie Ferrara to name legends – are masters of psychology, body language, the mechanics of pain, illusions, and historical perspective.  And the fighter applies what his trainer communicates to him; the great fighter takes all he is showed and improvises.  It becomes brutal jazz at its best.  There is an old truism that “a great boxer is a great liar in the ring.  He makes you think one thing and puts you to sleep with the other.”  And good boxing consists of every variation of all those things mentioned.  But it’s not guesswork.  And it’s not just simple science.

Fundamentals are not only about form and the physics of technique.  The surface of basic boxing is even more complex than average fight fans may think.  Because boxing is so much about timing, it’s the “when” that matters more than anything.  Situational knowledge that can be applied through “between round” instruction or on a whim’s command seem to be absent from most “world-class” mma stand-up.  And proper fundamentals – even after a beginning fighter learns how to throw perfect punches and movement – means finding the right distance and following the basic conventions before the subtleties (i.e.. don’t start with a hook to the body from the outside, don’t reach over the jab when you throw a 2, throw touches until the time is right, throw straight punches when opponents have good hooks, scatter the jab, move then punch, punch then move, slip to the back foot is safer, and the list goes on – still, the margin between great amateurs and top professionals is enormous).  Many of these basic kind of things, mma guys and kickboxing coaches don’t seem to communicate to their fighters.  It’s as though they treat these simple practices as advanced boxing, if they treat it at all.  I, personally, have never heard any of those mma coaches even touch upon any simple boxing conventions on the line of those listed.  I never heard any valuable tips besides the most obvious throughout my years in martial arts gyms.  The things everyone hears in even the lamest McDojo atmospheres are tips to “keep your other hand up when you’re punching” or to “turn your fist over on the hook” or to “keep your chin down, shoulder and eyes up” or “to stay on your toes.”  Do seasoned practitioners ever get the more strategic basics outside the boxing gym?

The claims that stance and distance are different in mma and boxing is a convenient lie that helps bolster the image of other fighting arts.  The fundamental boxing stance should be exactly the same for Muay Thai and mma.  Distance, too, doesn’t change from fundamental boxing mechanics to other arts.  One boxing trainer sarcastically said, “you should neither reach nor be too close…  That’s the art of distance.”   And boxers are not conventionally taught to stand linear to their opponents – that’s a myth.  Boxers are not even taught to be in a crouch.  The only thing that changes is that boxers have the luxury to stray from the fundamentals – e.g. turning sideways like a Floyd Mayweather Jr. with his shoulder roll, constantly attacking from a crouch like Mike Tyson.  There is also an added necessity of having to be aware of other weapons in other arts which makes the need to be fundamentally sound arguably more important.  Yet mma is littered with fighters who continue trying to discover how to punch.  Fedor Emelianenko tells people to bend their wrists, flexing their fists slightly and to always make a fist – a laughable non-boxing fundamental (although some fighters turn their hands slightly to match the angles).  Bas Rutten used to say that not turning the fist over was the proper way to punch.  If the whole sport of mma ignored the mumbo-jumbo and focused on the nuance of action of fundamental boxing, maybe the mma fighters would be better in the boxing range.

Other combat sports athletes may compensate for their lack of decent leveled boxing skills by never being in the pocket, because they don’t have to be.  They usually have to be stronger or more in shape to win in mma especially (in regards to stand-up), almost never smarter.  All fighters seem to love to talk about it being a chess match and a science, but the only arts that can claim that legitimately are Jiu-Jitsu and boxing – everything else is strength and attrition based.  Even world-class kickboxing is made up of kicking and brawling, and when the brawling gets too intense, they start kicking more.  There are inside games in Muay Thai, but again, it’s more physique than intelligence.  In boxing, Freddie Roach pointed out, “It’s not the mistakes that the other guy makes I care about, but I’m trying to pick apart all the habits… not whether he’s fast or slow.”  This makes sense in the world of elite skills because mistakes there are more restricted and not as handily exposed as they are in low level fighting; they’re not so loud and obvious and countered so easily.  You have to, then, attack habits, even good ones.

When mma fighters adopt a new move or a “cool technique,” it is often overused to the point that it becomes insultingly predictable.  The fact that those moves still work proves that the quality should be insulting to a schooled audience not fooled by the hoopla of the UFC.  From Dan Henderson’s KO of Michael Bisping to Jake Shield’s left Thai kicks against Jean St. Pierre, the nuance is virtually absent from stand-up fighting in mma.  For all the few boxing talents like BJ Penn, GSP, Anderson Silva, and Junior Dos Santos, you have a bunch of empty handed hacks.  And if anyone thinks that Frankie Edgar running from BJ Penn was top-notch boxing, I’d agree only if it were the novice quarter-finals of the New York Daily News Golden Gloves, not main event pay-per-view (even in the amateurs, experts like to rule those points wins as robberies of the nature of amateur boxing).  The hand-skills of Muay Thai fighters to K1 kickboxers are also outrageously low-level from boxers’s perspectives.  Shannon Briggs alluded to the mma and K1 fighters he trained with and fought against (in his brief stint at K1) as being like beginners with their hands.  But the argument is that they are different sports.  But they box because boxing is a major part of every combat sport.  Perhaps, it is just not good enough.

In mma, the bout structure exacerbates the problem.  Long-term damage to the body in mma (punches, knees, kicks) is almost a non-issue because the fights are so short (11 minutes less action than in championship boxing bouts (18 minutes less including breaks), 15 minutes less action in seasoned non-title boxing bouts (22 minutes including breaks)).  If a body shot has any affect on a fight in mma, it usually is immediate.  And studies have shown that a greater elapsed time in sports including breaks adds to the mental toll of rigorous physical exercise; in other words, getting it over quicker by having fewer breaks is easier because “sportsmen find ways to take rests on the playing field when they are given fewer rest periods.”  In boxing, the longer bout duration, shorter round duration, and more rest periods have made for more strategic and competitive fights.  Before timed rounds were incorporated into boxing over a century ago, fighters would create their own lulls in activity which made for boring, drawn out fights.  “Hug fests,” they were called even then.  Sound familiar?  Even Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock II was a half-hour survival fest – in retrospect, it was not at all that exciting.  In ancient Greece, boxers developed cauliflower ears from avoiding the grueling punching battles, and incentives to make action were often matters of life and death after the fight.  If the rounds were a little shorter in mma, maybe we wouldn’t see in-shape guys flailing and buying time or just lying on top of people.

Rest plays into strategy.  5 round UFC championship bouts often appear to have a clear winner whom the tides seldom change against by the conclusion of the fights.  The winner is often consistent with who is winning in rounds 2 or 3, and it often only changes with a lucky punch or a desperate submission – seldom is it controlled strategy.  If one guy expends himself, it is usually due to bad pacing or being out of shape.  The championship round drama evident in boxing is ever missing in the current mma format.  The less prevalent midsection punching slowing down the other fighters typically does not happen.  Only leg kicks show that cumulative effect, but leg kicks are more easily defended than body-blows, as evidenced in today’s mma.  Of course there are some extenuating reasons that make the games different, but arguing that boxing doesn’t translate into mma is reprehensible merely for the fact that mma fighters try to do everything I mention (and even bobbing and weaving, which I haven’t mentioned, is more common in mma today by the better fighters); the majority just do it so poorly.  Perhaps nine 4 minute rounds would be a good compromise for championship mma.  The 5 and 7 rounds suggested by Dana White may just add more of the same low quality fighting.

It can safely be said that in mma, their ignorance counts on viewers’ ignorance to propel their sport at every outing.  On one mma site, closing the distance was discussed, but not a single bullet matched sound boxing (that’s where I read that an overhand is used to close distance – but that is called lunging in boxing).  When Kenny Florian said in the postfight wrap-up of GSP vs. Jake Shields that the fight was a great example of strategy and top level stand-up, my company and I were floored (figuratively, of course).  St. Pierre, who is a great fighter and who mentioned, by the way, that he didn’t know boxing before he met Freddie Roach, fought a terrible fight and practically had only one eye.  The fight was a bore of anticipation, a tragedy of stagnancy.  Thank Jake Shields, however, for that.

It should delight fight fans who want mma to excel “righteously” that people like George St. Pierre are trying to evolve the sport and take every facet of it to a level that is acceptable on every one of its playing fields.  Frank Shamrock is one of the first mma practitioners to comment on mma’s lack of growth.  “MMA has progressed very little in the last 10 years.  The weakness in mma is punching and it has been like that since 1999,” Shamrock explained on Inside MMA.  “Boxing is the hardest, most finite sport to learn.  [It’s about] timing.  Punching is the fastest, easiest way to mash somebody.”  For now, whenever mma exhibits a high level of mastery in the stand-up, one guy is usually humiliatingly outclassed.  Otherwise, it’s usually a tough man contest in which they trade blows without a semblance of science.

In time, perhaps we’ll witness great mma stand-up like we have consistently witnessed great boxing for many decades – literally great boxing.  Until then, would anyone care to see Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao wrestle each other?

Well, besides their wives?

What Makes Some Trainers Great

By Al Alvir

Experience, certifications, and accolades are pretty, and they’re pretty convincing.  That and the referrals from “friends who mean well” or a fellow fighter can bolster any trainer’s nomination to be the trainer of choice.  An old reputation can look great, too.  But remember, some of the best trainers have never trained a day in their lives.  Finding a good trainer, ultimately, is more about what an individual fighter can personally see than any ad homonymous sales point.    

How does the trainer communicate with the individual fighter?  That’s either a pass or fail, so it should be a given.  If the trainer’s approach doesn’t fit at first impression, it’s likely the pair will not be very successful.

Whether someone is a newbie or a seasoned veteran, the most important quality to look for in any so called authority is his ability to provide evidence for anything he has to offer.  The best training minds can break-down every nuance they suggest.  And in between every piece of evidence, he should be highly skilled at discerning what the nonsense is.  And even his opinions are backed by evidence and placed on a platter of full disclosure.  I find that the best trainers will talk to you forever.  When it comes to betting odds, a top trainer might not always be able to “pick’em” right, but he should be able to pinpoint habits like a poker champ reads “gives.”

Finding a great trainer, then, is the rigorous challenge.  It’s like finding a great physical therapist or great car mechanic.  My overwhelming feeling is that they are all mostly hacks who guess here and there or if that doesn’t work they try to replace everything (in fighting, those are the trainers who train the basest fundamentals and rely on conditioning for their fighters to win sans teaching fight-camp specific tactics).  I reserve the idea that even decent doctors and lawyers are just as fallible.  It’s all for the simple fact that most of any of these people do what they do because it “fell on their lap,” “they grew up doing it” and “it’s all they know.”  Or they may have labored themselves into picking a profession that best suited their inclinations, be it in giftedness or preference.  But how much joy does the average accountant get from doing his job just because he liked to “crunch numbers” or “was good at math”?  The great professionals, the few and far between gems, the ones who can accurately be described with all the clichés of career happiness each have the rarest quality: passion to the extent that they would not just do it for free, but they would really want to.  That is usually because they themselves have something special to offer and are important in the whole pursuit. 

When it comes to great fight trainers, this is the heartiest and most essential characteristic because training fighters is akin to parenting or joining a missionary. I consider training to be like spreading Gospel in many ways, like many other forms of teaching.  When you care for an art, you want to pass it on to everyone.  And when you care about anything so extensively, you will be anal-retentive in dealing with it.  Greatness remains to be so rare, so let’s get back to the focus of finding something as close to it as possible.

So the last thing any worthy trainer has is a possessed attention to detail.  He should talk fighting for hours.  Defense, counters, what if’s, how’s, and why’s should all be addressed.  He should want to call and check up on his fighters – even his worst ones.  He should find time to review fight tapes for hours to fix kinks in someone’s game.  He should put extra hours in to study and increase his own knowledge, even in the peripheral aspects of his art.  He should do everything to help his trainees reach their goals.  One trainer I knew from Brooklyn used to train one of his white collar fighters for free in exchange for that fighter tutoring a young kid who was hurting in school.  That’s the sacrifice that a good trainer should make, and it shouldn’t feel so much like sacrifice. 

As the quest to find a trainer worth his salt, or worth your dollar, continues, just remember that money does not imply quality.  Look at so many fine school teachers who do so much for kids – as the saying goes “they didn’t become teachers for the money.”  And the same way you would be hard-pressed to find any mechanic who has a deep desire to uphold the art of maintaining and fixing all cars, you’ll probably have difficulty finding a fight trainer who cares for the art so much that he duly cares about any person he’s helping perform that art, and vice versa.  The mechanic might be great with his own car, but how is he with a stranger’s car?  And did he build the engine himself? Maybe we’re really looking for the engineer?

I’m trying to engineer a jab as we speak.

*If you are acquainted to the training process, you may have a more difficult time discerning who has the knowledge of fighting and the ability to dynamically approach fighters’ educations. This is because so many trainers have such a simplistic idea of what happens in a fight.  The common exceptions are traditional martial arts guys who often have over-complicated, impractical, and untested systems that take an inefficient time for anyone to be minimally useful in. Jiu-jitsu men and Judo men may be at the opposite end of that spectrum, as they tend to be entrenched in the nuances that make those arts so effective.  But stand-up fighting, and mma, is a whole different beast that needs a special knowledge and savvy on the part of trainers.  Boxing, which can be the simplest of martial arts, is arguably the most strategically intense and the most difficult fighting ability. Trainers of stand-up should have an intimate understanding that boxing is not about brawn. It is a skilled science that most trainers underestimate.

Little Known Boxing Wisdom – 12 Things Maybe Only Cus D’Amato Knew

I consider Cus D’Amato to be the greatest boxing mind to have ever lived.  He was the closest thing to a boxing clairvoyant, a man who had an uncanny ability to read people and tell what their future would likely be.  He could point out the minutia of fights, what to focus on, and what would make the difference in the outcome.  D’Amato had the inexplicable ability to gauge fighters just by an exchange of words, even a demeanor or a handshake.  D’Amato had his defined philosophy on boxing, but he adapted to his fighters in his approach to coaching them.  He took in fighters who he deemed to fit in his stable of fighters.  Bob Jackson, renowned boxing trainer who worked under D’Amato, once told me that it was “that thing, [Cus] could see it if you got it.”  It might be something about being around for so long; Bob started to see it, too.  Cus D’Amato saw “that thing” when these fighters were just boys: Rocky Graziano, Floyd Patterson, and Mike Tyson.  (D’Amato also trained Jose Torres a few years before turning pro, but he wasn’t as young).  Great trainers all over the world have worked corners of dozens of hall-of-fame champions, but D’Amato may be the only one who had ever forecasted multiple children to become greats on their own rights (meaning, someone else wasn’t touting them as prodigies before D’Amato did).  Bob Jackson believed his magnum opus was a young Rohnique Posey who Jackson took off the streets of Far Rockaway, NY.  Posey, 30, has not become a champion, but is a grown man and perhaps a magnum opus in his own right.

 

Too many boxing trainers are hacks and boxing quacks – they know surface fundamentals, figure they can come up with some strategy for a slugger and a boxer, and improvise with the appearance of nuance.  A lot of them had personal success in the ring, often by no means of strategic genius or extensive boxing IQ, but they purport to have more understanding of the sweet science than others.  Many of them learned boxing in a common martial arts academy where real boxing is hardly anything more than boxing terms taught by good communicators, so they know their terms well.  Some are just boxing fans who know what they know from watching boxing, but they can communicate it to beginning fighters.  The regretful thing is that you don’t have to communicate the right stuff to be a good communicator.  There is only a small percentage of trainers, from my observations and education, who come from the school of thought about studying the idiosyncrasies of fighting from every aspect: reading, watching, training, and doing.  I have a great respect for old school gym guys, such as Cus D’Amato and Bob Jackson, who inundate[d] themselves in the art.  D’Amato was a boxing fanatic, not like some sports analyst who fancied sport to fill a void in his life, but one who relished in boxing’s kinship to the nature of people and simply loved the art.  Boxing is widely considered a microcosm of life, and D’Amato, the philosopher he was, saw it as such.  D’Amato used fighters’ fears as tools for fighters to build their mentality.  D’Amato is the most widely recognized trainer known for creating his own distinct style and system of fighting.  The implementation of original training devices such as the Willie Bag (Teddy Atlas cashed in on this with Everlast) and slip bag could arguably be credited to Cus D’Amato.

 

I’ve seen world-class trainers showing people nonsense in top gyms.  It is common to see trainers speeding up the necessary process of learning fundamentals just so they can make it “fun” for fighters.  Yuppies and coddled upper-middle class people across the world are learning boxing… the wrong way.  Some trainers just don’t care to give some of the minor things any thought.  Others believe that the real effort should only be put in real fighters who want to go “somewhere,” like turning professional.  So many trainers rely on tradition and ignore other possibilities – e.g. if a trainer is not from the school of pressure fighters, meaning he doesn’t choose to teach it, he might omit the use of certain tactics that would make the fighter more productive moving forward and get him to start countering and stepping back.  Boxing is steeped in a culture of inheritance, the passing down of techniques, training regimens, and lore.  And boxing, as proven of an art as it is, is not part of a gym culture that examines beyond the realm of what has been passed down to its trainers.  This is the crux of boxing’s integrity; it always works so well and dumps the uselessness and ignores the fads, but it hardly evolves in the ways other sports do.  When other athletes drop miles off road work because scientific proof says that anything over x amount of miles of running a day can be counter-productive, boxers run more.  When other athletes find that lifting weights enhances their speed and strength, boxers continue doing push-ups only.  When other athletes swear that sex doesn’t affect their game-play, boxers swear-off their wives and reduce to masturbation (trainers I’ve known have always sworn-off ejaculation of any sort).  When other athletes drink protein shakes that help them get their nutrients, boxers continue downing their urine.  Some of these are old boxing myths, and certainly not jokes, but their prevalence in boxing culture continues.  Of course, some top pros skip the old superstitions and hire specialists for their training camps in order to harness optimal preparedness.  But for the overwhelming majority of boxing gyms, fighters continue doing what they’ve done for years – what they believe has worked for years from the trainers they know. 

 

If you were to adopt a regimen for training, first comparing the detailed routine of 10 top pro-fighters, the work-outs would vary in an alarming way.  They do so many different kinds of work-outs, but it’s not really known whether it’s the routines that work best for particular fighters or just their choice work-outs.  The fundamentals of boxing are exact enough, but the philosophies of trainers, too, vary to the point that fighters would have to wonder, “What will work for me in this sea of contradiction?”  If one core-workout is the best, why don’t all fighters do it?  So, one would have to question what works best in all of boxing.  I’ve been in gyms for many years and follow boxing like an anal retentive grump.  I can explain and debate for days with anyone in the world about the fundamentals that I believe work better or worse, the training styles that can be enhanced, the strategies that certain fighters should use against their opponents, and I will never prescribe to ad hominem.  Trainers of all sorts will always have something to disagree about, as boxing can be very subjectively complicated, but I’ve met only a handful of trainers who have the forethought and stamina to examine their convictions on a daily basis and possibly evolve.  If I were ever proven wrong, I would want to accept it and test it, and test it some more.  I urge everyone, including trainers and cutmen, to strive at being craftsmen at what they do, not just go through the motions to get it done.  As a trainer, if you feel you have the luxury to be lazy or to make an arbitrary choice, you are not doing your fighters any justice.  Here is a list of some classic passed-down common knowledge, obsessive compulsive pet peeves, personal decrees, and some tips maybe only Cus D’Amato knew (but don’t think I wouldn’t fight him tooth and nail on it, as well, if he disagreed.  He may be Cus, but ad hominem… you know):

  1. Putting out the cigarette.  It does not mean you are properly shifting your weight or turning your hips just because you a pivoting on the ball of your foot.  There is more to shifting weight and turning your hips than that.  When someone pivots like he’s putting out a cigarette, it often means he has too much weight on that leg.  Power comes from the hips AND shifting your weight.
  2. Turning hooks.  Trainers say to turn over the hook so that your palm faces down, but guys tend to turn it too early.  The turn adds snap and force and it should be on contact.  See Mike Tyson vs. Trevor Berbick.
  3. Step and slide.  You do not slide the second step, you hover.  The point is to be as close to the floor as possible, but you don’t want to drag your feet.  Dragging, or sliding, your feet slows you down and could tire your leg.
  4. Enswell pressure.  When a cutman rubs swelling with the enswell, pushing the blood away, it is a temporary job, and it lends to the swelling increasing faster.  A cutman should only, if ever, rub out swelling if it’s the last chance for his fighter or the fight is going to be stopped.
  5. Mayweather-like Patty-cake-work.  Here’s another example of ad hominem.  I’ve said for years that the Mayweather pad-work was pointless.  But because Mayweather is/was on top, gym fighters insisted it worked.  Anybody can do it; it’s partially choreographed and it doesn’t help simulate a real fight or real moves.  It’s just a display of fluidity and speed at its best.  But it’s not great pad-work feeding or a display of great skills.  Fighters of all sorts are doing it now, and it’s plain bad and obviously not too difficult.  If you have a routine and can look away, you are obviously not doing what its intended use is—to focus.  Patty-cake Baker’s man, it’s all show.
  6. Speedbag.  It’s good at first, but any fighter gets used to a bag and a platform after seconds and can do it with his eyes closed, so it takes away from the training.  Switch bags and change up the way you hit the bag to get the most out of it.  Pin the bag.  Play around. It’s for hand-eye coordination, so if you can look away, trust that it’s not doing much more than keeping your arms moving.
  7. Snap.  Contrary to what boxers may feel like they’re doing when they punch, they are not punching through the target.  They are actually punching at the target and transferring the greatest force by snapping at the target and changing the trajectory of the punch.  It’s a complicated explanation in physics, but very simple and natural for boxers to perform.  Twisting the fist uses more, larger muscles and increases kinetic energy.  Even if a fighter punches with a follow through, there is a point when he snaps/pops his punch and changes the trajectory even slightly.  Force has to transfer to the target and not dissipate with it. 
  8. Uppercuts.  You should rotate your fist and you should throw it from angles.  People tend to throw the uppercut with the weakest fulcrum – as though their arm is in a cast and sling as they swing their arm up.  That is the weakest angle for your punch because you’re using the weakest muscles.  Your palm should rotate as though you are flexing your bicep, so you get more leverage.  And uppercuts, when possible, should use your chest muscles as much as possible – like a vertical hook.  And try not to throw uppercuts right in front of your opponent.
  9. Where to look.  Generally, stare at the center of the chest, but let your eyes roam.  You want to peak at your opponent’s eyes, he may be cut or having a seizure.  You want to be aware of his hand (only from far away), he may have a ripped glove that could cut you up.  Also, your opponent might have a give with his eyes.  You might have a guy staring into your eyes, and you can trick him by looking up or down. The point is, your eyes are a tool to maximize your awareness.  Also, when you hit the bags, train your peripheral vision.  When hitting the double-end bag or slip-bag, look past the bag at times.  You can’t treat the thing you’re slipping the same way you do the thing you’re punching; you don’t stare at a fist when you’re bobbing and weaving, do you?
  10. Breathing through teeth.  Leave the grunting to tennis players.  Boxers breathe through a bitten-down mouthpiece and make a “sst” sound, not a “shh” sound.  A “sst” sound through the teeth and mouthpiece comes from deep down.  A “shh,” as though you’re telling someone to shush, is basically a superficial exhale.  And biting down will keep you from getting your jaw broken.  Only Manny Pacquiao hasn’t had his jaw wired for this girlish quirk.
  11. Cross vs. Straight vs. Overhand.  Know your 2’s.  It’s important to know the differences between all your 2’s because of the different functions.  I’ve seen it dozens of times when a guy is trying to break through someone’s defense and could do so with a different approach with his 2 punch.  These three shots each function as different punches depending on the angles you get and the angles you make in a fight.
  12. Stepping and punching.  Stepping is ONLY about moving location.  You never have to step with a punch if you are not moving location.  Trainers sometimes insist that fighters step with the jab regardless of positioning.  It’s not going to add power without true forward movement and it can be another give/tip-off.