Styles, tactics, and techniques have evolved to various degrees from the inception of gloved boxing. There are four primary boxing styles that are often employed to classify fighters. The swarmer, out-boxer, slugger, and boxer-puncher, with three sub-styles: counter-puncher, southpaw (unorthodox stance, left-handed straight and right jab preference), and switch-hitter (technique to change from orthodox to southpaw stance mid-fight).
Let’s take a closer look at the 4 primary styles and the counter-puncher sub-style:
The swarmer is a fighter who uses continual pressure to try to overwhelm the opponent. They have a lot of good head movement, are powerful, strongly chinned, and have a lot of punching output in order to get inside (which requires great stamina and conditioning). Closing in on an opponent and overwhelming them with power and a flurry of hooks and uppercuts is the focus of this method. They are quick on their feet, making them tough to dodge for a slower fighter; or they are excellent at cutting off the ring with precision footwork. They also have a strong “chin,” as this strategy necessitates absorbing a number of jabs before they can get inside and do the business. Many swarmers are shorter fighters or fighters with shorter ranges who must come up close to be effective, especially in the heavier classes.
The out-boxer is the polar opposite of the swarmer. While battling with faster, longer-range strikes, the out-boxer seeks to maintain a distance between themselves and their opponent. Out-boxers are known for their lightning speed, which often makes up for a lack of strength. Out-boxers prefer to win by points decisions rather than knockouts since they rely on weaker jabs and straights as opposed to hooks and uppercuts. However, some out-boxers may be aggressive and devastating punchers.
Let’s say an out-boxer epitomizes everything that is graceful about boxing, the slugger then embodies all that is ruthless about it. In the ring, many sluggers lack technique but make up for it with raw power, often knocking out nearly any opponent with a single blow.
Slugger punches are often slower, but they have more body and follow through. This is important for getting through an opponent’s guard and allowing additional blows to be delivered.
Although most sluggers lack ring movement and struggle to close down quick-footed opponents, this is not always the case. Sluggers, unlike swarmers and out-boxers, throw fewer but harder blows and rely less on combinations. As sluggers’ striking patterns are often predictable, they are vulnerable to counterpunching.
Hand speed, typically an outstanding jab combination and/or counter-punching ability, superior defense and accuracy than a slugger, and slugger-type power are all hallmarks of the boxer-puncher. Furthermore, a boxer-puncher is more likely than an out-boxer to fight in a swarming style. In general, the boxer-puncher lacks the agility and defensive abilities of a pure boxer. Out-boxers are usually defeated by boxer-punchers, especially if their speed and mobility can be matched. They also work effectively against swarmers, as the additional power deters swarmer aggressiveness. Boxer-punchers are difficult to classify since their style is similar to that of a slugger, swarmer, or out-boxer.
As the name implies, this boxing technique is meant to frustrate the opponent by relying primarily on counter-attacking. A counter-puncher manipulates the opponent into making mistakes, allowing them to counter-punch with deadly counter strikes. To perfect this approach, you must be highly evasive and an absolute slip master.
Which is the best boxing style?
There are no absolutes in a sport as unpredictable as boxing. With many an upset in the boxing ring which has left the bookies stunned, boxing is well and truly all about who prepares the most.
Swarmers smash boxer-punchers, sluggers smash swarmers, and boxer-punchers smash sluggers, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule. This idea simply emphasizes a potential advantage that one boxing style may have over the other. It makes little difference if the opposing boxer is able to strategize effectively enough to address these challenges.
While some consider boxing-punching to be the most successful boxing technique since it is the most balanced, it is important to remember that fighters of other styles have defeated them several times.
In a sport like boxing, there is no such thing as the “best” style because every style has weaknesses and strengths. If a competent boxer truly wants to perfect the art of boxing, he or she will work to enhance the areas where they are currently strong and train to overcome their deficiencies.