Controlling the pace is a term often used in boxing to refer to how a fight unfolds. The term is typically used when any type of race is discussed, like track and field events or businesses competing with one another.
The person in front of most races is the one who controls how fast others in the race have to go. When it comes to boxing, the fighter who controls the pace of the fight often emerges victorious.
This article will explore how the best boxers set the pace in their fights and use it to control and win fights.
Setting The Pace And Controlling The Boxing Ring
How a boxer sets the pace is highly dependent on their fighting style. If you’re a more aggressive type of fighter, you’ll need to use your head movement, inside fighting skills, and footwork to impose your will on opponents. Think of Mike Tyson during his prime.
That strategy won’t be effective if you’re an outside fighter or counterpuncher. Such fighters use a different strategy, controlling the pace with intelligent footwork, jabs, feints, and their outside fighting skills. Think of Floyd Mayweather.
The boxers who are best at controlling the ring and setting the pace typically understand the strengths and weaknesses of each boxing style, including theirs. This makes it easier for them to impose their game plans on opponents instead of having others impose their will on them.
You’ll also need well-rounded boxing skills to master pushing the pace. If you’re an inside fighter, spend some time learning how to fight on the outside. If you’re more of the counter-punching, outside-fighting type, learn how to fight on the inside, so you’re not in over your head if an aggressive fighter manages to pin you against the ropes or corner.
Well-rounded fighters are typically the best at setting the pace and controlling the action since they can dominate fights in many ways. For example, Floyd Mayweather is known as an outside fighter, counterpuncher type, but he’s a pretty good inside fighter. His opponents often used all their energy during fights trying to pin him against the ropes. If they managed to get him there, he often got the better of the exchanges, forcing his opponents to devise new tactics. Only a few boxers like Manny Pacquiao managed to do decent work when they had Mayweather pinned against the ropes.
It’s one of the most frustrating things that can happen to a boxer inside the ring. You work hard to put your opponent in a position you think will be advantageous, only to get dominated there.
Setting The Pace As An Aggressive Fighter
Aggressive pressure boxers typically set the pace with forward momentum and a high punch volume. This typically makes a good impression with judges and is enough to win rounds, providing your opponents do less.
Squaring off against aggressive pressure fighters can be a frustrating experience for boxers who struggle to keep up with their volume, have poor footwork, don’t counter-punch well, and have poor inside fighting skills. These are the things you need to get an aggressive boxer off you.
Aggressive boxers must be careful to avoid gassing themselves out too early due to constantly pushing the pace. Think of Muhammad Ali‘s fight against George Foreman, where he used the rope-a-dope strategy to tire Foreman out before taking over the fight. You’ll need to learn to pace your aggressiveness, so you can continue applying pressure for the duration of the fight if you’re an aggressive fighter.
Examples of aggressive boxers who like to push the pace with forward pressure and high punch volume include Julio Cesar Chavez, Mike Tyson, and Gennady Golovkin.
Setting The Pace As An Outside Fighter/Counterpuncher
Fighters who like to fight outside their opponents’ ranges also have ways to control a fight’s pace. Think of how a matador controls a bull. The bull is clearly an inside fighter since it wants to get close to the matador and gore them with its horns. The matador fights like an outside fighter, using smooth footwork, feints, and misdirection to prevent the bull from getting close to him until he’s ready to go for the kill.
It’s the same in boxing: outside boxers use their footwork, feints, head movement, and punches to deny their opponents access to inside range. This can be frustrating for aggressive fighters to deal with and often leads to them making mistakes as they impatiently look for ways to get close enough to land power shots on their opponents.
Outside fighters use their jabs a lot to control the pace of the action and the range their opponent gets to fight from. Come too close, and you’ll get popped with a jab. Come a little closer, and other weapons like the cross or catch hook come into play.
Successful counterpunchers/outside fighters typically have excellent footwork that helps them escape tight spots. Regardless of how good a boxer is, their punches won’t be enough to keep a determined opponent off them. They’ll need to use their footwork often to create space, so opponents are always right outside their range.
Aggressive fighters often find themselves chasing down outside fighters while not landing a significant amount of punches. It’s a frustrating experience for someone who likes to bite down on their mouthpiece and swing for the fences. The more frustrated they become, the more likely an outside fighter will be able to land meaningful counters.
Some of the best examples of outside fighters in boxing include Floyd Mayweather, Canelo Alvarez, and Terrence Crawford. Mayweather’s first fight against Maidana is a classic example of what happens when an aggressive brawler runs into a skillful outside fighter. Maidana brought the fight to Floyd more than anyone else did during his career, but it wasn’t enough to defeat him.
Mayweather used his lead hand and footwork to dominate the fight’s pace. He alternated between jabs, check hooks, and lead uppercuts, and he constantly changed his target to keep Maidana confused.
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