Lost In The Shuffle: The Overhand Punch
Punches have always been fun to talk about in the sport of boxing. It’s something about hearing the genuine excitement in an announcers voice while calling a fight that makes the moment that much more enjoyable. They have even been given their own language.
One punch stands out from the crowd
There are many ways to call a punch, a punch. Some of my favorite phrases are “ripping shots”, “touching the body”, and “going “downstairs/upstairs.” There’s one punch however that is almost a relic in the landscape of today’s boxing. What punch? If you said overhand, you are correct!
While the thought of this article was still a “just a thought”, I decided to get some first hand perspectives from the trainers I’m privileged to work around. My question to them was: “What are the pros and cons of throwing the overhand punch, and why isn’t it a more frequently used punch?”
Here is what I managed to takeaway from the conversations and come up with.
The pros are:
1) It’s a great punch for shorter fighters, especially when they are having trouble closing the distance.
2) It’s a great punch because it can be turned over into a hook instantaneously if a fighter thinks it might not land, which is essentially an exit strategy.
3) In most cases when it lands it always hurts or KO’s a fighter (Think Pacquiao when he ran into the Marquez right.
4) It does not have any tempo or rhythm when thrown, which can be highly effective against slick and smart fighters. (Think Mayweather & Broner and how they were hit so frequently by the overhand of Maidana).
Their evasion of punches is based on sequences.
For instance, the left hook is almost always followed by a right hand. With the overhand, there is no cadence to follow.
Now for the cons. They are:
1) Once landed it is easier for opponent to detect going forward. The opponent will look for fighter to come forward and lower head.
2) Although they may get caught with punch again, they will now know what to look for and have a better chance of evading.
3) If thrown incorrectly punch can linger in the air for too long and fighter can be wide open for counter.
4) Now this last point was very interesting to me, as I had never thought about a punch in this manner. Judges can negatively perceive the punch as a desperation punch. This makes perfect sense. Especially if the punch is not being landed. The judges can think that the fighter obviously knows he is losing, which in turn can make them more comfortable in awarding the other fighter rounds.
At its bare core, the overhand is such an intriguing punch to me. It’s not something that is regarded as fundamental in boxing by any means, yet it has seen success at the highest level of the sport on several occasions.
This article would not be complete if I didn’t include some of my favorite overhand punches, in gif form.
Khan vs. Algieri
I like this overhand by Algieri because of its delivery. Algieri doesn’t let it linger out too much like typical overhands. He instead lands a missile of a punch on Khan who definitely feels it and has to back up to regroup.
Pacquiao vs. Marquez IV
While it is easy to forget any other punch that was thrown in the 4th fight of Pacquiao vs. Marquez because of the dramatic ending, there were a lot of nice punches thrown in the fight.
In this gif Marquez throws a hellacious over hand right that catches and drops Pacquiao. This frame perfectly demonstrates the danger of an overhand punch.
The punch is so awkward that Pacquiao literally has no idea where the punch’s intended targetis. He gives Marquez essentially a free shot upstairs in the process and is dropped.
Broner vs. Taylor
I like this overhand because of the conditions in which it is thrown. Taylor actually throws a “counter overhand right”, which by the way lands perfectly. Counter punching in itself is a hard task, but to counter with a punch as “un-technical” as an overhand right is very impressive.
Pacquiao vs. Marquez IV
Of course I had to put the one punch knockout on the list! Nothing really much to say here, as this punch has been plastered on every boxing highlight reel since it happened.
Pacquiao gets careless and runs directly into a HUGE right hand from Marquez. Game Over.
Mayweather vs. Maidana
In my last choice I don’t think the potential of the overhand punch can be demonstrated any better. You have Floyd Mayweather, the best defensive fighter of the generation vs. Marcos Maidana, an effective brawler, but a brawler nonetheless.
It is extremely rare to see Mayweather hit flush in the face, let alone by a fighter of Maidana’s pedigree. However, not only was Maidana able to land the overhand punch, but he was able to land it repeatedly!
Again, slick fighters rely on rhythm to help them avoid punches. They can almost feel the punches coming. That task becomes increasingly harder when there is no rhythm to follow.
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