During the 2001 championship fight between Floyd Mayweather and Diego Corrales, George Foreman, as part of HBOs broadcast team, said "If you want to be a good fighter, forget about the left jab, but if you want to be a great fighter, that's the best punch in boxing." Although you could argue whether it is THE BEST punch in boxing, you can't disagree with Big George's sentiment about its level of importance in the ring.
The jab absolutely separates the good from the great. When used and used often, the jab can single-handedly control and, ultimately determine the outcome of a fight. Executed effectively, it can dictate the distance a fight is fought at, it can set the pace of a bout, it can discourage an aggressive fighter, weaken a brawler, it can nullify a puncher by creating space, the jab can help establish control and put any fighter in the power position. There are a few qualities you can take advantage of in order to make your jab one of the best in the game:
1) Throw it long. Extend it out, roll your shoulder and turn your knuckles over to take full advantage of every inch of your reach. Your power is on the end of your punch, when all of the joints are locked out. Don't sell yourself, and the importance of your jab, short by being safe with it. Get it out there and make a statement with it.
2) Mix it up, the jab that is. Throw it at a slightly different angle, fake with it, use it to the head and down to the body and vary the speed you throw it at. The jab is most effective when you use it often, but also when you’re not predictable with it.
3) If your jab is getting countered or easily blocked, don't stop using it. Instead, double up on it. It's harder to counter a double or triple jab (if they're thrown correctly). Either that, or fake it before you throw a real one. Whatever you do, don't abandon it, just use it more and mix-up your approach.
4) If all else fails...jab. If you don't know what else to throw or what counter to make - jab. It scores points, it is a relatively safe punch to throw, in terms of exposing yourself too much and, in the process, it will likely create other openings.
5) Above all, throw it like you mean it! Too many fighters paw with it, like a cat, toying with a ball of yarn. Be a bulldog instead. Throw it to land and make a dent in something. A good, hard, power jab sends a strong message. If you're tentative with it and non-committal, that sends a message too. If you're in the ring to fight, then let it be known from the very first jab you throw.
The key is to strengthen and use the jab as a power punch. Don't just treat it like a set-up shot or smokescreen, but use it as a valuable weapon that can lead the charge and rally the troops. Capitalize on its versatility. The jab can do everything from providing time to feel your opponent out, to breaking him down by peppering him with a stinging chin-checker round after round.
Unless you’re throwing it incorrectly or in a predictable way it’s not possible to use the jab too often. If you throw it right, throw it hard and throw it fast, you simply cannot go wrong. Dedicating yourself to the simple philosophy of having the best jab you possibly can, may help you make that leap from good to great.