Welcome to the second instalment of ‘Lost In The Shuffle: The Overhand Punch!’
I had a lot of fun the first time around, so much fun that I decided to do a second edition on the overhand punch boxing weapon.
To summarize, deconstructing exciting parts of a fight is something that all fans and none-fans alike can appreciate it. Who doesn’t like watching a slo-mo video replay of a devastating punch landing?
It is this thinking that led me to study the intricacies of the overhand punch. It is a punch that when landed, most of the times does major damage.
Before I wrote the first article, I asked some of the guys I hang around at the gym (including Olympic Gold Medalist Mark Breland) their thoughts on the overhand and this is what I came away with:
The pros are:
- It’s a great punch for shorter fighters, especially when they are having trouble closing the distance.
- 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.
- In most cases when it lands it always hurts or KO’s a fighter (Think Pacquiao when he ran into the Marquez right.)
- 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:
- Once landed it is easier for opponents to detect going forward. The opponent will look for fighter to come forward and lower head or change levels.
- If thrown incorrectly, the punch can linger in the air for too long and the fighter can be left wide open for a counter.
- Now this last point (by Deontay Wilder head trainer Mark Breland) 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.
As the case was in the first piece, this article would not be complete if I did not list some examples of memorable overhand punches through the years. In glorious gif form, here they are.
(1) Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley (Round 4)
Although not known for being a power puncher by any means, Bradley has more than respectable power. Especially when he is able to sit down on his punch, and boy did he.
Bradley literally lifted Pacquiao off his feet with an absolutely perfect overhand right. Pacquiao would go on to say that Bradley definitely hurt him with that punch in an interview:
(2) Manny Pacquiao vs. Ricky Hatton (Round 2)
An older punch than the others on the list, but just as devastating.
With about 8 seconds left in second round, Manny leans slightly to his left and detonates an absolute bomb of a left hand that not only puts Hatton down, but puts him away:
(3) Sadam Ali vs. Jessie Vargas (Round 8)
The fight was highly entertaining with the first couple of rounds being very close, with Ali getting the slight better of the two.
Towards the middle of the fight Vargas’ physicality began to overwhelm Ali. Vargas landed a nice 1-2 in the form of a huge right hand that landed square on the chin of Ali in the 8th round.
The knock down ultimately meant the end of the fight as Vargas went on to land a collection of hard shots that forced the referee to intervene and end the fight in the following round.
(4) Timothy Bradley vs. Jessie Vargas (Round 12)
Very rarely do I flinch when watching a big punch land during a fight. However, the punch that landed on Bradley was by no means a normal punch. I flinched.
Vargas landed a brutal overhand right. To make matters worse Bradley literally ran into the punch. I’m not sure any other fighter not named Tim Bradley doesn’t get dropped or even knocked out from that same punch:
(5) Sergio Martinez vs. Williams II (Round 2)
The punch heard round the world. It was a sequel to a fight that could have easily been fight of the year. Martinez came up short the first time around and would not make that mistake the second time around.
With about 2:02 left in the second round Martinez absolutely crumbled the 6’1 Williams.
Williams had been criticized for giving up his height and not fighting tall in the past. It was definitely a worthy criticism as Williams stayed inside too long and was put down and out:
Bradley vs. Vargas +1
Bradley vs Vargas was one of the more fun fights on the list. It was action packed up until the final bell, even up to the bell Pat Russell thought he heard.
He is another great punch from Tim Bradley. Bradley catches Vargas with a pinpoint overhand. Again, the deception of the overhand is on display here.
Vargas has no idea where the punch is coming from due to the irregular delivery of the overhand. As a result, he pays the price:
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