Recently I wrote about growing up playing suburban street basketball, and how I had to unlearn all the utterly illegal but completely standard-for-the-street tactics when I joined my first real team.
Boxing has a similar array of “street” tactics, and I’m coming to know them better of late. I was recently in the ring with my favorite sparring partner Tim, who is always dragging out some new way to piss me off and make me work harder in our fights. I hereby attribute my knowledge of all the following sneaky and illegal tactics to him, and hopefully I can shrug my shoulders and pass the blame when I get called in the ring for using them myself.
1. Pushing straight arm
My single most hated tactic. Tim shoots out a straight right and keeps it there at the point of contact, leaning into me and shifting his feet as necessary in order to hold me there. Pisses me off just thinking about it.
How to defeat it: Circle right. Sounds easy doesn’t it? I hereby invite you to share the ring with Tim sometime and see if you can get past the rapid-fire left jabs that keep me from escaping. I have also tried ducking under the right to deliver a left hook to the body, but it’s tough if he matches you move for move and keeps that right in place. Or just dances back once he realizes I’m getting loose. This move is rarely never called in our sparring. My trainer prefers that I get tired enough of it that I finally learn to defeat it. I hear you saying, “Good luck with that.” Thanks.
To be fair, Tim has to share credit for this nasty practice with my uncle John. As a wretched teenager John would do something to utterly infuriate his little brother Eddie (who was my age), and when Eddie charged him with fists flying, John simply employed his greater reach to hold Eddie at arm’s length, typically by clamping his hands on Eddie’s head. Yeah.
2. Foot stomp and hold
I kid you not, Tim does this to me, and I’m pretty sure he gets a charge out of it. He’ll step out of his stance when I’m getting a good combination going and stomp my left foot to the ground with his right and hold it there, pretending to be oblivious.
How to defeat it: The important thing here is to not fall on your can or get knocked there. Last time he did it I shouted to the ref and performed my best outraged theatrics (like I used to in b-ball) to draw attention to his foul. Tim continued to pummel me while I hollered, but it did get called. Unfortunately in boxing there’s no foul shots awarded or he would have had to cool his jets while I got in a few sweet points on him. If I were Marvin the Martian I’d destroy him with my Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator.
Tim and I are in the same weight category so I’m continually surprised at how effective this is when he does it to me. We get into some close fighting and he’ll just throw his weight on me and press downward, forcing me out of my stance, off my punches, and making me throw off his weight. It’s incredibly effective as a stopping and tiring tactic, and he adds to it by continuing to throw punches, which may not be hard since they’re in so tight, but they are bothersome nonetheless.
How to defeat it: I counter this with an illegal move of my own, the glove clamp. I shift however I need to in order to capture his gloves under my arms. Then I hang on that boy like anvil on a Christmas tree. Works pretty well. The ref always calls it, but I pass this tactic into your safekeeping and recommend that you use it, too. If you get in trouble I shall disavow all knowledge and delete this post immediately.
Keep your mental game sharp, people. Expect the unexpected. Plan to box, but be ready for brawling. Works in life, too, doesn’t it?