T Nation

Effective Engagement of Counter-Punchers


Alright, so I seem to have problems with counter punchers. I try and work the jab-cross but this dude in particular doesn't give me much to work with. Any suggestions?


I'm guessing that he's figured out that's what you're trying to do.

If he keeps countering the jab-cross, then throw something else at him and catch him off guard. If you're sparring then he's not just going to sit there and take it. So switch it up or get faster.


Some techniques you could use- use feints. Feint jab, throw cross. Feint cross, throw lead hook.

Another thing you could do, which may be hard if you haven't practiced it, is change your rhythm up. Instead of throwing 1-2-3, throw 1, wait a second, then follow with 2-3. Or throw 1-2, wait a second, then throw 3. This way he doesn't get your rhythm down and doesn't know what to expect.

Go over your shadowboxing and make sure you're not telegraphing- are you loading up your cross before you throw it? Dropping your lead hand before you jab? All of that contributes.

And finally, swarm the motherfucker. Make him fight you in the phone booth so he doesn't have room to counter.


Good advice.

Also, when specifically is he counter punching you?

If he's catching you on the way in (like coming over your lead jab with a right cross) then use feints/broken rhythm to draw out his counter, or slow down his reactions.

If he's catching you between punches (like between your jab and straight right), then you might want to try doubling or even tripling up your jab (you can also change levels with it to further mess him up).

If he's catching you on the end of your combinations then chances are you are pausing on the inside and not clearing properly, clearing without "closing the door behind you", or clearing nonchalantly. If so, really work on clearing once you finish your combination and using either movement, firepower, or feints to cover yourself on the way out.


Throwing punches in bunches probably isn't a bad idea. Otherwise I second everything Irish and Sento said (should that be third?).

I'm a counterpuncher myself, and I despise people who feint a lot.


are you boxing or kickboxing/MMA?

if you're boxing, then i agree with eveything that's been said. if you're kicboxing or doing MMA, remember to change levels.

i like to throw a lead jab and a rear leg kick, then lead hook...constanly going up/down and L/R.


once its muay thai it becomes a WHOLE new ball game lol.

Are you coming straight in with your jab cross..throw the jab, and slip hard to your left and throw the right..close the distance and then throw an uppercut with your lead.


To Sento,

He is catching me between my jab and cross, so what i've started to do is jab and once i see him turing into a cross i slip to the right and cross to the body. Seems to be working. I am spending alot more time on the heavy bag working double and triple jabs-slip then cross to the body.

Also, my sparring partners as well as coach say im not connecting with my knuckles alot on overhand rights and left hooks.

Seems when I'm reaching it seems to be more of a smack, if you know what i mean. Isn't this still effective, albeit not as damaging? I cant seem to turn my hand in enough unless im super close with the looping punches.


I am strictly boxing


Yeah, that can work well. Another option is to immediately "pivot in". Basically pivot on the ball of your lead foot while stepping your right foot to the right (if you were standing on a clock and your right foot starts at about 4:30-5, you'd step it to about 2:30-3).

This will make his cross miss and keep you within range to deliver a really crisp straight right/cross of your own.

You could also slip his cross to the left while you deliver a right hook/straight right to his body and then come back upstairs with a left hook to the head.

Finally you could try "blitzing" or "flurrying" (as duffy suggested). Basically you throw 3, maybe 4, punches (you could also throw in a kick if it were MMA/MT) extremely fast, with as little space between them as possible.

Personally, if I'm leading with a "blitz" I like to throw a jab, straight right, and lead uppercut/or liver hook to the body while at the same time stepping through with my right foot (so that I wind up in a right lead stance).

If you do it right, and without telegraphing you WILL land at least one of the punches if they try to stand in the pocket and block/counter punch you.

Keep in mind that maximal speed is what matters in this technique though, only really the last punch is going to do any significant damage.

Switching between a number of different combinations, footwork patterns, and head positions will keep them guessing and not allow them to predict what you will do next.

If you then start throwing in feints and broken rhythm you will slow down their reaction time even more so and

Well, the way I was taught to hook, it's not really a "looping" punch, more like a straight punch thrown from an angle. The arm stays bent the whole time, but your forearms lines up in the line of force and you land the punch straight through the center of gravity of your target.

Here is Joe Lewis (one of the people who I've been lucky enough to have a chance to train with) hooking a heavy bag and also teaching a little bit about how to throw proper hooks:

In fact we never really were taught to throw any type of "looping" punch. Even the overhand right comes in straight through the target (although it starts up high and comes downwards at an angle). I don't really like overhand's though (as I've stated before).


If he is a counter puncher and your prefer the 1-2 double up on your jabs. You want to throw his timing and rhythm off, because if he has timed in and has a reach advantage he going to pick you off.

Try this, 1,1, lead hook, then throw hook or uppercut to the body. Anything to throw him off.


thanks for the help guys


Good luck man. Let us know what works for you.


Here's one thing I like to throw to mess up a counter puncher besides all the things that these guys have mentioned so far. Great advice by the way. I like to throw a jab, then a funky kind of left uppercut. Its more like an upside down jab with the arm straightning out more than a traditional uppercut.

Then I'll bring the right over the top. If you explode with your left hip and really extend the punch it can be a counter punchers worst nightmare because it can get there first and will slide right between his gloves. It should catch him right on the chin and snap the head back perfectly for the right to catch him then follow with the left hook closer.

I'll also throw it after a jab, right cross, throw the inverted uppercut and bring thr second right cross. Roy Jones Jr used to throw this a lot to the head and to the body.


Have to agree with the doubling and trippling up on your jab. Also, make sure that your jab is coming straight back to your guard position. A lot of people drop the jab hand slightly as they throw the cross, this leaves you open for the counter.


Good point. Also, try to have as little of a timing gap between your jab and straight right as possible. When you are hitting the heavy bag (or focus mitts) the combination should sound like "BABOOM", not "BA...BOOM". The less time between when the two punches land, the less opportunity that your opponent will have to counter you between them.

Also, how is he making you miss the initial jab(s)? Does he like to snap back? Slip? Parry? Cover/shield? Use footwork to maintain the distance? Depending on his common method of making you miss your initial lead off technique(s), we can probably give you some ideas to help you prevent this and make it yet harder for him to counter you.

Finally, on the doubling and tripling up your jabs point. Make sure that you are stepping forward with each and every jab to put some bodyweight behind them and further shorten the time/distance he has to react to them.

Good luck.


Parries the jabs but feinting a jab then doing a cross is working. And i have thrown in turning to my left and stepping in when he jabs so im there for a short hook to the body then usually get out when he turns to face me again.

Alot of good advice guys! I am trying to work on my speed as the guys at my gym say I hit plenty hard, just gotta locate punches better.


I didn't read everyone's response so sorry if I am repeating. Something that I use is to lead with a cross (powerhand) instead of a jab. Work combinations with different leads.


What Irish said, I'm echoing. I'm a bit of a counter puncher myself when Im not actively pursuing, the only thing that stops me from dropping a bomb when someone shoots off a punch is when they swarm, it gives me nothing to work with.