DON'T Follow the Leader



If you’ve spent much time in the gym or listened intently into the corners of many fighters, more than once you’ve probably heard a trainer tell his fighter to "cut the ring off". Although it sounds like easy-enough advice there are wrong and right ways to go about taking your opponent’s mobility away and effectively cutting off the ring. With a few nuances added you can turn this generic piece of training advice into a more advanced, fully-effective offensive maneuver.

First of all, it does start by simply NOT following your opponent. If he is using the ring, moving and trying to fight from the outside, step in the direction he is moving and reduce the amount of space he has to maneuver in. Otherwise, when you follow him and allow him to lead you around the ring, you will always find yourself on the end of your opponent’s punches, right in the line of fire. Too many fighters get caught up in the mode of stalking their opponent, but take too many punches in the process. Walking your opponent down is effective, if in the end, you are taking away his options to move you around the ring, dictating the distance and position he fights from.

Next, to cut the ring off effectively, you have to take strong, meaningful steps. You can't casually step with your opponent, or take too many steps to catch up with him, as he continues to move. Your counter-steps have to be specific enough to make a statement and place you in a position to immediately react. Step solid and commit to your move. Don't be too slow and methodical or you will end up leaving a crack for your opponent to slip through. When you step to cut the ring off, precise and purposeful is the key.

Then, be sure to close the gap on him. Crowd his range. He's obviously moving to maintain a certain, safe distance, so don't give it to him. Be sure to cut him off laterally, but move towards him as you do it. Get in his personal space, up in his business and shut his movement down. Do this and you'll pressure him into making a move that he doesn't want to. He is moving to “buy time” so force him to react and he'll either freeze, feel like he has to stand and fight or rush his foot movements to change direction. All of these responses put him on the defensive and put YOU in the power position.

Most importantly, once you've stopped your opponent's retreat, you have to punch. Otherwise, why have you cut the ring off? Just cutting the ring off and then following your opponent after he changes direction does little more than create a game of cat and mouse. Cut the ring off, block his escape route and then punch. Too many fighters cut the ring off and then wait for their opponent’s next reaction. Punching is critical. This creates a situation where you convert your defensive counter into an offensive move and turns the tables on your opponent.

Once you master how to cut the ring off and practice doing it the right way, you can dictate the pace of nearly every fight you're in. Once you take this advantage away from a boxer who is dependent on movement, it's like bringing an end to a good game of chess...CHECKMATE.

Doug Ward, Director of Marketing for TITLE Boxing