It’s been said by many boxing experts that it’s the punch you don’t see coming that can do the most damage and one of the most effective punches to surprise your opponent with is the uppercut.
Marciano, Tyson, Foreman and many of the game’s biggest, best punchers owned devastating uppercuts that rounded out their heavy-hitting styles and helped mold their intimidating presence in the ring. These power punchers had the uppercut down to an art form. For perfect examples, go back and count how many uppercuts George Foreman threw in his KO win over Ken Norton. Watch Mike Tyson’s fifth round destruction of Frank Bruno or replay the final combination that Rocky Marciano used to put away Joe Louis. Two of the final three punches that retired The Brown Bomber, were uppercuts.
To unleash a picture-perfect uppercut like these undisputed legends there are a few rules that will either make it a highly successful tool in your belt or will lead to you getting nailed, depending on how well you adhere to these basic DOs and DONTs.
Delivery, timing and technique are the keys to using the uppercut effectively, so considering all of these factors, remember…
DON’T throw a right uppercut (assuming you fight from an orthodox stance) from the outside. It is meant to be used at close range, where your opponent can’t see it coming. Go back and watch Evander Holyfield’s third round knockout over Buster Douglas for a classic example of how much that novice mistake can cost you. In this case, it separated Douglas from his senses and the heavyweight title. Regardless of speed or power, the uppercut should always be used as an inside punch.
DON’T lead with it. Set it up by stepping-in and hooking off your jab, use it as part of a combination or touch your opponent up on the outside of his arms first. Divert his attention away from the uppercut in order to open up a clear path for it down the middle.
DON’T swing your arm out like it is in a cast. The uppercut is not an arm punch that involves the shoulder. Lock your arm in place and rotate your upper body. You get leverage and the proper delivery by using your mid-section, not upper body strength.
DON’T stand up with the punch when you throw it. Stay low so you’re ready for the next punch in your combination or so you’re prepared for retaliation. Stay crouched through the entire movement. This will allow you to properly follow-through with the distribution of your weight and it will also put you in the correct defensive posture if your punch misses its mark or your opponent blocks it.
DO throw the uppercut from below your target. Get under the point of contact to leave yourself less exposed and you’ll also get better leverage on your punch.
DO keep your opposite hand up so that you’re not easily countered.
DO turn at your waist. Do not stand up with it but rotate at your core, your center, and you’ll get more rotational force or torque on the delivery.
DO turn your palm towards you. This naturally lines up all of your joints, ligaments and muscles and creates a powerful weapon.
DO keep your eyes on your target. Too many fighters initiate this punch while looking at the floor. Look at where the punch is going and you’re more likely to hit your mark.
DO throw it from an angle. Uppercuts delivered straight up the middle, in front of your body, will have less leverage than if you’re able to shift your weight slightly to one leg or the other and angle your uppercut across your body and up the middle.
There is one exception to the rule. You CAN throw the uppercut from the outside IF it’s short and is thrown more like an up-jab. If you try to deliver it with full force and the complete range of motion, it leaves you exposed for too long. If you drop your shoulder slightly and shoot it in a bit of an arching motion, up through your opponents guard it can be an effective part of a combination. The key is in keeping its path narrow, not deep.
Throughout boxing history, power punchers and pure boxers have used the uppercut so effectively because it is great for breaking through an opponent’s open guard and doing damage. Use the uppercut properly and effectively and it can give you the upper hand on an opponent who hasn’t taken the time to perfect this spectacular punch.