When people first begin boxing, regardless of their age, it seems the only thing they focus on is throwing punches. But that is only a small part of the equation of becoming a complete boxer. Boxing is about putting many little things together so that you develop a fluid motion in what you do, something that becomes natural.
This includes your stance, the use of the jab, head movement, turning over your power shot, keeping your hands up, and more.
I recently sat down with former Heavyweight KO artist Lou Esa—trainer at Final Round Boxing and Sports Performance in Whippany and trainer/manager of 2010 Golden Gloves Champion and up-and-coming pro prospect Vinny O’Brien—to discuss the various components which are essential in becoming a great boxer.
For the next several weeks, Lou is going to share his knowledge on each of those components, and why it is crucial. This week we discussed the stance, as it is the foundation for everything else.
Lou Esa: “In boxing you need to have a good stance. If you don’t stand right, you’re going to get hit. There are two kinds of fighters—pitchers and catchers. If you want to be a pitcher, you have to stand right so you throw the punches correctly. When you stand right, you do throw the punches correctly, and when you stand wrong, you’re not getting any leverage on your punches and not hitting correctly, so in essence, you’re not really boxing.
Everything in boxing comes off of the stance; your footwork, how to punch and how to get away. The stance is like a tree, you build from the roots up. You have to learn to move to your right and left, and that all comes from your stance. Your stance also allows you to be less of a target. The only way to do that is to stand sideways. Rather than standing square with an opponent, you want to put your lead food out in front of your back foot so it is almost as if you are standing sideways. At first it will be uncomfortable as you’re not used to it, but eventually you’ll become used to it and punch off that stance. And everything comes off of that stance. You move in, move out, right, left. You always want to move away from your opponent’s power hand. If your opponent is orthodox, you should always move to your right. Whereas if you’re opponent is southpaw, move to your left.
Once you get your stance, the rest comes easy. Most people just want to learn how to punch, but they don’t understand that if you don’t have the stance down, you won’t learn how to do anything else correctly. Everything comes later off of your footwork. It’s about being able to move forward and backward and side to side, and the only way to do that is if you are standing correctly and balance so that your weight is centered.
So for young boxers, focus on getting your footwork and stance down first before you worry about punching combinations and ducking and slipping punches. You will notice the difference in your overall performance once you get your stance the right way.”
Tune in next week as Lou Esa talks about the importance of the jab.