While there are many different styles used in boxing, boxers can be divided into two main categories: outside and inside fighters. An outside fighter prefers to keep their opponents at an arm’s length inside the ring. They prefer to pick opponents apart from range, while an inside fighter prefers to fight up close and personal.
Factors like your skill set, height, reach, footwork, and agility determine which fighting range works best for you. Taller, longer fighters are often outside fighters, while shorter, stockier boxers often prefer to fight at close distances so their opponents can’t use their long arms to pick them apart for range.
The winner of a boxing match is often the fighter who manages to get their opponent to fight them at their preferred distance. This is called “ring generalship.”
Important Things You Should Know About Outside And Inside Fighting
One of the biggest factors that determine what range you’ll be more effective at as a boxer is the length of your arms. Fighters with longer arms have what is known as a “reach advantage” which allows them to hit their opponents from distances they cannot fire back at.
For instance, let’s say boxer A has an 80-inch reach, while his opponent boxer B has a 70-inch reach. This means there’s a sweet spot on the outside range, that’s about 10 inches wide where fighter A can punch fighter B with their range attacks like their jab and cross, while fighter B can’t touch them with any of their punches. That’s why taller, longer boxers are often encouraged to focus more on their outside fighting skills. Being able to hit your opponent while they can’t hit you back is what boxing is all about. However, not all rangy boxers follow this script. For example, Thomas Hearns was one of the rangier boxers in his division in his days, yet he typically preferred to bang on the inside and enjoyed lots of success inside the ring.
You don’t have to be an outside boxer just because you have long arms, but it would be the optimal style for you since it would allow you to use your long arms to pick your opponent apart from range.
Floyd Mayweather is one of the best examples of an outside fighter. He typically looked to keep his opponents at arm’s length during his fights, picking them apart with straights and counters. Mayweather was exceptionally good at managing distances that often led to opponents lunging in at him in frustration, allowing him to land counters like a check hook or pull counter.
Shorter fighters, with shorter arms, are typically encouraged to master fighting on the inside since it negates any reach advantage an opponent might have. For example, Mike Tyson was short for a heavyweight during his prime, but his peek-a-boo, inside fighting style proved to be extremely effective.
Let’s a more detailed look at both fighting styles to get a better understanding of how they work:
1) Inside Fighting
Many boxers have a natural aversion to inside fighting since it puts them in range to get hit by opponents. However, it’s a valuable skill to have if you find yourself getting picked apart by your opponent’s straight punches.
Some of the advantages of inside fighting include:
- It allows you to pressure your opponents psychologically and physically. Fighters use more energy when they spend most of their time moving backward.
- It nullifies advantages an opponent might have over you like reach, speed, skills, power, and defense. It allows you to muddy things up.
- It allows you to dominate the ring with your presence.
- It can be used to slow down your opponent’s offense.
All boxers should be comfortable fighting inside even if it isn’t your preferred distance. However, many inside fighters are forced to develop this style due to issues like not being able to outbox longer opponents or not having enough power to keep opponents at a distance.
Inside fighting skills are priceless in boxing since most boxers aren’t that good at fighting up close. It gives you a secret weapon you can go to whenever you find yourself getting outboxed.
Floyd Mayweather is an excellent example of an outside fighter who is extremely good at fighting inside. Mayweather would frustrate opponents by outboxing them from range and he typically outboxed them whenever they had him trapped against the ropes. There’s nothing more frustrating for a boxer than an outside boxer who picks them apart from range and also bullies them at close distances. That’s the full package most boxers should aspire to reach.
You can close the distance against opponents by cutting off the ring so they can only move backward, slipping under punches while gaining ground, or throwing combinations to keep them occupied as you get closer. Once inside, keep your opponent busy by throwing a high volume of punches, pushing, and using your chest to push your opponent’s head down.
2) Outside Fighting
Outside fighting is what most beginner boxers are taught. It’s what boxing is designed to be; two skilled combatants using their skills to pick each other apart instead of brawling. Outside boxing typically favors taller, rangier boxers, but there are exceptions.
The jab is the foundation of outside fighting since it’s used as a range finder and to keep opponents off you. It’s the farthest-reaching punch boxers have in their toolbox. Most good outside boxers have exceptional jabs and use them a lot. The jab is used to set up other punches and to disrupt an opponent’s offense.
Excellent footwork is virtually as important as having a solid jab since your feet are what allow you to stay at your preferred distance from your opponent. You’ll need lots of endurance to go with your footwork to ensure you can maintain it for the duration of a match.
Other attributes that outside boxers often have include speed, fundamentally sound defense, and high boxing IQ.
The best outside boxers are typically comfortable fighting inside as well even if they’re not exceptional at it since there are no guarantees you’ll always be able to impose your will on opponents in boxing. If fighters like Manny Pacquaio, Marcos Maidana, and Oscar De La Hoya were able to trap Mayweather against the ropes multiple times during their fights, you can expect the same to happen to you regardless of how good your outside fighting skills are.
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