Shifting is an old boxing technique that has been around since the 1800s. It’s not a very popular technique with many modern boxers since it’s considered one of the most dangerous techniques used in boxing. The technique involves changing stances with your stride to close the distance against opponents.
Former heavyweight champion Bob Fitzsimmons was one of the people who popularized the technique as it became one of his trademark moves. Fitzsimmons used the technique to close the distance when he knocked out James Corbett in 1887 to win the heavyweight title.
While the idea behind shifting is relatively simple, you’ll have to drill it relentlessly and learn to use it at the right moments to make it effective for you.
Benefits Of Shifting In Boxing
Various shifting techniques are used in boxing, but the basic idea behind them is to switch your stance as you throw a punch. Instead of only throwing your arm and bringing it back to your guard, you simultaneously take a step with the cross and switch over to the opposite stance. This allows you to throw another powerful cross with your new rear hand.
Shifting requires lots of practice to master, and it works best when you’re good at fighting out of both the orthodox or southpaw stance.
Some of the benefits of shifting in boxing include:
1) Helps To Close The Distance On Opponents
Shifting allows you to close the distance on opponents as you throw combinations. It’s an excellent tool to have in your toolbox, especially when you find yourself going against taller, longer boxers. To make things even better, you’re in the perfect position to use most of your punches after closing the distance by shifting stances.
2) Makes It Easier To Cut Off The Ring
Shifting also comes in handy when you’re trying to engage with an opponent who’s highly defensive and constantly moving away from you. Instead of being forced to take small steps toward a retreating opponent, you can take bigger steps by switching stances as your try to pin your opponent against the ropes.
Mike Tyson was extremely good at shifting to cut off the ring against his opponents. It almost looked like he was walking in a peek-a-boo stance as he shifted towards his opponent and unloaded powerful hooks.
3) Helps To Evade Punches
Shifting is primarily used as an offensive tool, but you can also use it for defensive purposes. It allows you to take larger evasive steps as you avoid punches coming your way. The action of switching stances as you move backward also moves your head off the centerline, making you a harder target for your opponent.
4) It Allows You To Throw More Powerful Punches
Here’s arguably the main reason the shift technique was developed in the first place. Shifting your stance puts you in a position to put together combinations with punches from your rear hand. Your rear hand is your power hand in boxing since you can generate more power as your rotate your body into the punch.
Switching stances changes your power hand so you can throw left and right punches that all come from your rear hand. For example, you can throw a power cross with your right hand in the orthodox stance, switch stances as you take a step, and throw another power cross with your left hand.
5) Creates Better Attack Angles
Shifting can also be used to create offensive opportunities. Gennady Golovkin is a huge fan of shifting and often uses it to open up his offense. One of his famous moves is using a double shift to get inside on opponents so he can land hard hooks.
How To Shift Correctly In Boxing
Shifting simply changes your fighting stance as you stride towards or away from an opponent. Shifting makes your forward movement more effective and allows you to throw more powerful punches as you move closer to your opponent.
Many legendary boxers often shifted during their fights. Fighters like Jack Dempsey created variations of the technique, like the double shift. The technique isn’t as common these days since some boxing trainers believe the risks of the technique (it can leave you open to counters if you overdo it) outweigh the rewards. Still, boxers at the highest levels, like GGG, shift often during their fights. It remains an effective technique at the highest level of boxing.
Timing is everything when it comes to shifting inside the ring. Once you’ve committed to it, there’s no turning back, and a well-trained opponent might notice what you’re doing and look to counter. It’s one of those techniques you don’t want to overuse to keep your opponents guessing.
If you’re new to shifting, use it only when you’re closing the distance on opponents as they move away from you or to pressure them. The trick to executing the technique smoothly is to let your forward momentum move your body as you switch stances.
One of the safest power shots to throw while shifting is your cross/rear straight. Shifting allows you to repeatedly fire off power crosses while keeping pressure on your opponent. You can also use shifting to trap opponents as you unload power hooks on them.
The two main types of shifting techniques used in boxing today are:
The Dempsey Double Shift
Timing is everything when it comes to the double shift, or you’ll end up getting countered. Former champion Jack Dempsey developed it, and here’s how he described using the technique in his book “Championship Fighting.”
In the orthodox stance, telegraph a cross while you throw it. Your opponent will take a step back to evade it, so you take a step with your left leg and fire off a right straight. You then take another step, this time throwing a left straight.
The Fitzsimmons Shift
This is the original and most popular shifting technique used in boxing. It involves throwing a straight rear punch while simultaneously taking a step forward with your rear leg. You then throw a punch with your new rear hand once you’re in the opposite stance, typically to your opponent’s body.
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