We’ve all seen videos where analysts break down fights, even really old fights with horrible grainy footage, and point out tiny moves and countermoves in the clinch, in the footwork, in the shot placement. They just seem to see so many things that we don’t. Not to mention coaches studying footage and pointing out weaknesses that fighters themselves often miss. Some people clearly can see what’s going on better than others. Watching boxing is not the same as knowing HOW to watch boxing.
But this is not some otherworldly talent that only a few people have. Your appreciation of boxing, just like your stamina and your punches and your footwork, can be trained. While some people are better than others, anyone can improve and be a better version of themselves. The next time you put on a boxing match or go to a boxing gym and see some of the members sparring, take the following mental notes to train your eye.
You know how you can let your eyes go out of focus, and your vision becomes blurry? Do that, but not to that extent. Watch the space between two fighters, and observe each fighter with your peripheral vision. This allows you to look at what both fighters are doing, and you will get a much better estimation of who is throwing more, landing more, and who’s winning (bet you now wish a lot of judges could do this). People tend to focus on one fighter or the other when watching boxing. This is why you always think your favourite fighter performs a little better than they actually do in reality – it’s not that they are punching and landing more than the other fighter, but you are noticing what they do more, and not noticing what the opponent is doing.
Best part? Believe it or not, this actually helps you in the boxing gym, in your own boxing training. You’re not supposed to look at an opponent’s hands to see what punches they throw – you look at their shoulders, and your peripheral vision tells you what punch is coming. Try this the next time you step into the boxing gym, or the next time you watch a fight. You’ll be surprised at how much more you see.
Feet of Fancy
When observing a boxer, whether in a fight, working the bag, or shadowboxing in the gym, look at his feet. Not ONLY his feet, but look at how they connect to his movement, and to each punch. That will tell you almost instantly how good/experienced he is, purely from how well he moves. You will always see people who can punch, but with bad balance and footwork. But you will almost certainly never see someone who has good balance and footwork who cannot punch.
You see step ladders, cones, and all manner of items used in boxing training when it comes to footwork. This may seem strange – what does hopping on a little weight plate have to do with punching people in the face? Answer: a lot. Coordinating your foot movements with the rest of your body, including your punches, is what makes you box well. The next time you see someone shadowbox in the boxing gym, watch his entire body and how his feet connect to his hips and hands and head. How well each movement flows with each other. A good rule of thumb is whether his head is directly above his groin, because that acts as his centre of gravity. That’ll tell you how good of a boxer he is.
Small note about scoring fights, the most disputed thing in all of sports. You are not supposed to include items like aggression or ring control or even defence in the score. It is purely a matter of who landed more and better shots. The way to determine this is in point 1 – watch the space between the fighters so you can watch both at once. The rules even state literally that you only count the other stuff (aggression, ring generalship, and other often misused and nonsensical terms) if the damage dealt out is EXACTLY the same, which it almost never is.
While the above will open your eyes a lot when it comes to watching boxing, studying fights, and evaluating fighters, there will always be someone who knows more than you. Watch more fights. Watch breakdown videos. Read articles and books. Chat with people more knowledgeable than you with an open mind. Argue with the intention of learning, not winning. And watch more boxing!
At Legends, boxing is everything to us. Besides getting in a great workout, we want anyone who trains with us to box well. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s also a ton of fun! Download our ‘Legends SG’ app to book your free trial today, and perfect your punches with us. WhatsApp message us at 8949 2236 if you would like to start booking for Boxing Personal Training sessions!