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Defence & The Importance of It in Boxing

Blog, Boxing & Kickboxing, Exercise & Training, Health, Sport

All you have to do is look at the man who goes by the nickname “TBE” (The Best Ever), to know that defence is so important in boxing.

However, despite having such a stand out fighter advocating an impenetrable defence, so many fighters still neglect this area of their skill set.

In todays post, I’m going to talk about the importance of a fighters defences, whilst also giving a few pointers as to how you can make sure your defence is solid!

Shell Defence
Mayweather effectively using the “Philly Shell” defence against Juan Manuel Marquez

Defence is Necessary for Attack

In order to attack efficiently, you must be able to defend well. It’s as simple as that…

Sure, anyone can go at someone and throw their arms and try to take someone out, but say you did this with your chin high in the air and with your arms swinging from 3 miles away, your attack is not only technically awful, but it’s also leaves you vulnerable to a shot yourself.

wilder no defence
Wilder lucky not to get caught whilst swinging in windmill-like shots!

In a sport like boxing, you’re always at risk of getting caught, even with a defence as impeccable as Floyd Mayweather Jnr, however, there’s certain technicalities we can adjust to minimise this risk.

It is always important to remember that with no or very minimal defensive skill, you’re always a lot more vulnerable, compared to a fighter who is defensively sound. Regardless of whether you’re a big puncher or not.

Start off “Textbook”

The other day, a young kid walked into the gym for his first training session with me.

I heard him talking about Floyd Mayweather Jnr and about how good he was etc, etc.

Upon hearing this, I knew instinctively that this young man was going to try and replicate his style, with the Philly Shell style defence/stance.

Philly shell defence

He went about the session and I politely reminded him to keep his hands high up, like I had instructed him before the session when I quickly ran through the basics.

Needless to say, my repetition of the words “Keep your left hand up mate!” didn’t quite seem to cut it and he was dropping that lead hand relentlessly, trying to emulate his favourite fighter.

Whilst I encourage people to learn from and try to emulate bits and pieces from their favourite fighters, and I encourage everyone to have their own unique style…

I also position myself adamantly that you should learn and really solidly grasp the basics and fundamentals before you try and emulate the skills of someone else, particularly that of one of the greatest fighters ever and one that is a rare example of someone who can get away with the Philly Shell defence!

Upon realising that my words weren’t quite getting through to him, I took him aside for a moment and explained to him how he should really establish the fundamentals and the “textbook” style techniques first, before trying anything similar to a Floyd Mayweather Jnr.

With all that said and done, I then encouraged him to stick with the basics, keep it “textbook” and once he’s nailed that, then he can look to practice the Philly Shell defence!

Winky defence
Winky Wright had a brilliant; textbook defence that saw him perform at the very highest level. A Hall of Fame fighter and a former World Champion!

Discipline in Drilling

What do boxers do, near enough every single day and often multiple times a day?

What do boxers do when they’re bored or are killing time somewhere?

They punch! They shadow box and they think about their sport…

However, how often would a boxer sit there and think about their defence, or do a whole session dedicated to their defences?

I bet you that it’s not all that often, in fact, it’s one thing that is quite often over-looked because it’s not necessarily as physically exhausting as throwing hundreds or thousands of punches!

As a fighter, you have to have discipline in your training. For me, that is sometimes isolating one technique and drilling it extensively in a session.

Adrian Stone Defence
Adrian Stone defending a jab from Shane Mosley

For example on Thursday morning I did a defensive session with a training partner of mine – all we did for 12 rounds was defensive work. He attacked me and I defended against his shots…

Really simple, but really disciplined and focused purely on what a lot of guys may overlook and dismiss as boring or unimportant.

Although you can drill any part of your technique, I really recommend drilling your defences – you can even do it alone as a shadow boxing drill if you don’t have a training partner.

Defences pay off. Big time. Literally in the case of our example today – Mr Floyd Mayweather Jnr…

Stay Calm

The most annoying thing that you can often hear as a fighter is “Stay calm!” or “Just relax!”.

It’s not quite that easy when you’re in there, getting punched in the head and body by someone who would like nothing more than to render you unconscious or put you on the canvas with a debilitating body punch…

However, there is at least some sense behind those words, as the more relaxed and “loose” you are, generally, the easier and more effectively you can both defend and evade an opponents punches.

(It’s also a great way of making your punches a lot sharper, faster and more effective too!)

Keith = calm in his defence
Keith Ellis, A.R.D. Fighter, calm and relaxed before winning the WAKO British Kickboxing Championships 2018

That’s why it pays to drill your defences so much and to do so on a regular basis, whether you implement them into your pad work, bag work or shadow boxing.

As you may well know, the more often you do something, you more comfortable you become and the more relaxed you will get over time.

By staying calm and keeping as relaxed as possible, you’ll leave a lot less gaps in your defence, your reactions will be faster and you’ll also be able to experiment and play around with different moves, positions and techniques.

The Importance of Defence

There you have it!

A few little tips and bits of guidance to help you out or at least remind you about the importance of a solid defence in boxing – or any combat sport for that matter!

Remember not to overlook this hugely important aspect of your game and it’s even worth considering that your defence can actually be even more important than your offence…

  • Remember that offence needs to be supported with a good defence (mainly by refining your positioning and technique).
  • Start off simple and “textbook” – understand the basics before complicating the process.
  • Have discipline and drill your defences – whether in front of a mirror when shadow boxing, with a partner or on the bag/pads.
  • Stay as calm/relaxed as possible – as hard as it is!! – and remember that confidence in your defence will help you keep calm under pressure.

Thanks for reading,

Hands up & chin down! 😉

For more Boxing related posts, check out the links below!

3 Tips to Help Improve Your Jab

How Boxing Changed My Life

The British Boxing Talk Podcast – with Tyler!

A Look Back At Former English Contender – Kirkland Laing

The Problem With Charity Boxing (MUST READ!)

Boxing as a Tool for Fitness

Tops Tips – Finding the Right Personal Trainer


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