How To Smother In Boxing

How To Smother In Boxing
Boxing Thursday

Boxing is an intricate dance that involves tactics, skill, and strategy where fighters look to impose their will on opponents and dictate the flow of their matches. One of the effective strategies that many seasoned boxers use these days is called smothering, a technique that involves crowding your opponent to neutralize their offense, push their cardio, and control the range they have to fight out of.

This article will take a close look at the art of smothering opponents in boxing, going over the advantages of the strategic approach and effective ways to implement it.


Explore Why Smothering Is An Effective Strategy In Boxing

Smothering is a tactical approach that is aimed at denying your opponent the time and space they need to effectively execute their game plan. Boxers can disrupt their opponent’s rhythm, minimize the damage done by punches, and create opportunities for counterattacks by smothering their opponents.

Some of the core principles that can make smothering an effective tactic include:

  • Controlled Aggression: Smothering your opponent inside the boxing ring doesn’t mean you recklessly bombard them with punches. It requires calculated forward movement that is aimed at dictating the pace of the fight and limiting your opponent’s options. Become too aggressive and you might be the one who ends up being sent to the canvas by a counter.
  • Effective Footwork: Proper footwork is essential when you’re trying to smother an opponent inside the ring. Poor footwork can leave you off balance, making it easier for your opponent to land punches on you or circle away from your advance. Boxers who are extremely good at smothering opponents often have quick footwork that allows them to quickly close distance on opponents.
  • Head Movement: Head movement is one of the crucial skills you need to successfully smother opponents. Former two-time heavyweight world champion Mike Tyson was known for his laser quick head movements as he closed distances on opponents using the peek-a-boo style. Moving your head effectively when walking down an opponent makes it extremely difficult to use their range finders, like their jab, to keep you at bay. Work on your ability to slip, bob, and weave to navigate around your opponent’s offense as you close the distance on them.
  • Rhythm And Timing: Smothering an opponent requires you to disrupt their rhythm and timing so they can’t mount any significant offense against you. Being able to read your opponent’s movements to determine the most opportune moments to close the distance on them is an essential skill to master to be good at smothering.


Reasons To Add Smothering To Your Boxing Arsenal

Smothering works at the highest levels of boxing so it’s certainly a tactic you should work on. For example, Floyd Mayweather is widely viewed as the most technically savvy fighter in the last era of fighters, yet his toughest test inside the ring came against Marcos Maidana.

Maidana wasn’t anywhere close to Mayweather’s skill level in terms of boxing skill, but he separated himself from everyone else Mayweather had ever fought by smothering him from the start of the match to the last second. Maidana’s approach prevented Mayweather from fighting on the outside and picking him apart from range like he normally does. Check out the above footage of how Mayweather effectively smothers Maidana, disrupting his rhythm.

Smothering isn’t only effective inside the boxing ring, it carries over into other combat sports like kickboxing and mixed martial arts (MMA). Former UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is one of the most technical strikers in MMA history, but Sean Strickland was able to dethrone him by smothering him throughout their title fight.

Some of the reasons why you should aim to master smothering include:

  • Reduces Your Opponent’s Power: While it might seem counter intuitive, smothering an opponent is an effective way to minimize the damage caused by a powerful puncher’s strikes. Smothering a boxer prevents them from being able to create the space they need to throw hard strikes. Keep this in mind the next time you find yourself going against a boxer who hits hard.
  • Limits Your Opponent’s Defensive Options: Smothering your opponent restricts their vision and movement, making it harder for them to evade strikes with their footwork or land counters when in range. Properly smothering an opponent involves throwing enough strikes to keep them primarily preoccupied with playing defense.
  • Creates Openings For Strikes: Boxers are more likely to make mistakes when they’re being overwhelmed with punches. The chaos created by smothering creates openings for powerful uppercuts and hooks to the body and head.
  • Mental Pressure: Applying constant pressure on an opponent can have a psychological impact on them. It often disrupts their focus and leaves them frustrated as they struggle to implement their game plan. Some opponents break under the pressure of being forced to fight in uncomfortable situations.


Ways To Improve Your Ability To Smother Opponents

Let’s go over some of the tactics you can use to successfully smother opponents inside the boxing ring:

  • Close The Distance: The first step toward successfully smothering an opponent is closing the distance on them, preferably trapping them against the cage. Good footwork improves your ability to close distances and you should also learn how to read your opponent’s movements so you can cut off the ring at the right moment.
  • Maintain Head Control: Head control is crucial once you close the distance and find yourself fighting in inside range. Try to position your head on your opponent’s shoulder or chest, making it harder your them to effectively land punches on you. You can also wear down opponents by making them carry your weight. This tactic was extremely effective for current WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury during his second fight against Deontay Wilder.
  • Utilize Clinch Work: The clinch is a natural position to find yourself when smothering opponents. Use it to tie up your opponent’s arms and to restrict their movement and their offensive options will be considerably diminished.
  • Target The Body: Smothering is about overwhelming opponents with constant pressure and tiring them so attack the body often to chip away at their cardiovascular endurance. Wear your opponents down with uppercuts and hooks to the body once you’re in close range.
  • Use Feints: Feints can get opponents to commit to defensive or offensive actions so use some as you walk your opponents.


Get To Work

You’ll need really good cardio, head movement, and footwork to effectively smother opponents inside the ring. Make sure you work on these attributes to make this time-tested tactic work for you.


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