Boxer in a white cap shadow boxing with WBC champion tshirt and white boxing handwraps

Boxing Punches: Basic Combinations

Boxing punches are the essential weapons of all boxers.

You will learn and train on how to punch from your first boxing session as a beginner or amaeuter. Unlike other martial artists, boxers are restricted in the moves that they make, so, getting those boxing punches correct is essential.

They can be reduced to six basic moves.

Before we carry on it’s important to remember to still work on other boxing components such as fitness and footwork. They play an important part, as any fighter needs to build stamina and footwork positions the boxer so he or she can unleash those boxing punches with maximum impact.

Female brunette boxer with hair and black gym wear and black hand-wraps punching a double-ended boxing bag.

Many trainers reduce the six basic boxing punches to a number system, so it is easier and faster to call out instructions to their fighter during a bout. The boxer memorises the numbers and can react faster to the advice from their corner.

As most moves are made up of combinations, it is easier to remember them this way in the competition. Don’t worry if you are a southpaw, it works just the same. What follows is a rundown of those six basic boxing punches and some pointers.

Before you start punching, see ‘How to Wrap your Hands’

Left Jab Punch

The jab is the first tool of any boxer. It is used during a fight for different reasons. One is to test your opponent, watching for his or her reactions. Another is in your own defence. Set them up for a cross or hook. Or you can keep your opponent at arm’s length while you figure out your next move. Persistent jabbing wears down the other fighter.  Experienced boxers can snap or flick out jabs in rapid bursts.

  • Always keep an upright stance and eyes on your opponent.
  • Punch from the shoulder.
  • Arm fully extended.
  • Rotate the whole arm.
  • Step forward and punch.

Right Cross Punch

Right crosses are potential knockout punches. Used in combination with the jab. The jab sets up or opens the other’s guard for a swift cross.

  • Stance is important. Anchor left foot. Place back leg slightly open, resting the ball of the foot and turn with the punch.
  • Turn the whole body from the hips.
  • Left hand guards chin.
  • Right shoulder moves forward, while left moves back, adds power.
  • Don’t drop the right hand, as this telegraphs the punch.
  • Follow up with a jab, you are vulnerable after the cross.
Female boxer in ring practicing her boxing punching combinations with her traine.

Left Hook Punch

The left hook is considered as one of those shock boxing punches. Inside the guard. Delivered quickly, it’s short and sharp, which has a devastating effect. Has two versions, European and American.

  • Plant right back foot and swivel on leading left foot.
  • American: Thumb held high on top of the fist, elbow low. Back of the left hand facing opponent.
  • Considered a stealth punch.
  • European: Thumb held towards puncher’s face, elbow high
  • The high elbow also acts as a defence against counter punches.

Right Hook Punch

Delivered the same as the left hook, just a change of stance from left to right.

  • Practice both.
  • Danger of overextending, leaving you open.
  • Only use when inside your opponent’s guard.
  • Short distance punches.
  • Needs control and the right opportunity.

Left Uppercut Punch

Another shock boxing punch. Used when you are inside your opponent’s guard.

  • Lead with left foot, pivot on the ball of the right.
  • Flex the knees slightly to harness power.
  • Hold your arms close.
  • Don’t drop your hands before the shot.
  • Hit with the flat of the knuckles.
  • Retract hand fast as the move leaves you open to counter punches.
  • It is also possible to convert from a body shot to an uppercut.

Right Uppercut Punch

Again, used inside your opponent’s guard.

  • Exactly the same as the left uppercut and shares the same vulnerability.
  • Always pull back your hand fast, to guard your chin.
Two female amateur boxers mid-bout in a ring practising throwing punches and watched by female trainer.

See our Heavy Bag Workout to start training.

Some Basic Boxing Punch Combinations

The first combination of boxing punches a boxer learns is the old 1, 2, which is jab and cross, which is pretty easy to execute and comes almost naturally.

  • Or the 1, 2, 1, combination. Jab, cross and jab, which helps recover from the exposure caused by the cross.
  • 1, 1, 2, which is used for both offence and defence. The first two jabs may lull the other boxer into thinking you are on the defensive, and you attack with a quick cross.
  • 1, 2, 3. A jab, right cross and left hook combo. After a cross you are exposed and need to regain your defensive stance. A left hook will not only surprise your opponent by receiving shots from both sides, but helps put you back into the correct position.
  • This can be extended by adding another right cross, so the combo looks like this 1, 2, 3, 2. Jab and cross, followed by a left hook and another right cross.
  • A three handed combo that is effective once you are inside your opponent’s guard is 2, 3, 2. Right cross, followed up by a left hook and then another right cross.

Amateurs start of by mastering the simple two or three handed combinations and gradually extend their repertoire to longer flurries of boxing punches.

This usually will depend on which style you are comfortable with or fall into naturally. Coaches will encourage the use of combinations that favour your strengths and minimise your weaknesses.

Aggressive boxing fight, two boxers fighting on the ring.

Boxing is like any other martial art, it takes dedication and training. It isn’t all about muscle power and single knockout punches.  Endurance is another factor, as a three minute round with an aggressive opponent can seem like an eternity.

Mobility and flexibility are also part of the package. Good footwork can keep you out of trouble and position you correctly, plus maintaining balance, which harnesses the power for those shots.

Discipline is the key.

Any amateur that has the willingness to take up boxing as a sport should consider how much they are prepared to put into this pastime.

Unlike professionals, they don’t have all the time in the world to train. To take it seriously, even as an amateur, the boxer needs to reach the peak of fitness and mental attitude.

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