The lead jab is driven by the elbow being launched from the hip, which in turn is driven from the feet. The elbow follows a straight line, as this represents the shortest distance between the start and end points of the punch.
The punch is turned just before the point of contact, causing the elbow to rotate and come slightly outside the line of attack. The jab is returned along the same line back to the start point.
The rear hand punch is extremely powerful. The power for the rear hand punch begins with the feet. A common error is that many people either leave the punch out or bring it back along a different line, leaving themselves open to a counter.
The tendency, even more so than with the jab, is to leave the rear hand out, rather than bringing it back as quickly as possible.
The hip plays a major role in ensuring the punch comes back along the same line and twice as fast as it went out. The over-
rotation of the hip is less obvious than with the jab due to the limited range of movement in delivering the blow.
Darren Barker (Commonwealth champion): “Being tall, I found the jab very useful as a point scorer in the amateurs. Often I'd win bouts solely on the jab.
“Speed and timing separate the good jabbers from the average. The secret is that you must commit with it, throw it fast and hard. You step in with the front foot and let the back foot slide in behind.
“It's a tool that can be used while stepping back in defence or to set up attacks. It's also excellent for breaking the opponent's rhythm. Many orthodox fighters find it difficult to land on southpaws but, to me, it's the key.”
Amir Khan (Commonwealth lightweight champion): “It is the favourite punch of every fighter, because it gets you in range.
“It tells you how far you are from your opponent and gets the distance right and everything comes from that. You can't just throw a big right, because your opponent will know it's coming. But when you throw a jab and the right hand comes, they don't know it's coming. The jab starts off everything. ‘
‘ “That punch has changed for me massively since the amateurs. I used to score points with it and find range. Now I use it to stop opponents in their tracks by hitting them with a good jab or sometimes feinting with it.
“The jab is key, especially with my style, because it stops a lot of people running at me.”
Clinton Woods (ex world champion): “The jab's not only a points winner, it sets up every other punch. You can rest on it, use it to frustrate the opponent, or as a combination setter.
“The keys are balance, having your feet firmly on the ground, and making sure it comes back to your chin in a straight line.
“As an amateur under [trainer] Ray Gillett in the 1980s, everyone on our team had a good jab. He'd hold the bag, we'd take two steps forward, jab, then two back. Then we'd jab with a light weight in our hands for power. As a junior no one could get near me.”
Darren McDermott (middleweight): “Starting as an eight-year-old at Ronnie Brown's, for the first three months all we did was throw the jab.
“The amateurs are a bit bouncy when they jab but for maximum effect you need to push down with the front foot into the canvas, keep that foot on the floor as long as you can, and make sure you roll the shoulders. That's what the top American guys do. They're way ahead of us in technique.
“Being tall, my jab helps give me distance, allows me to keep the opponent at the end of my arm, then I can pick shots off it. The jab's the easiest shot to throw, takes least out of you, especially as fighters tire in the latter rounds. Eventually, you choke 'em with it.”
Colin Lynes (ex European champion): “A top jab comes from a combination of a lot of things. Firstly, practice! It takes a long, long time to master. Both my trainers, Graham Moughton and Paul Cook, have been big on it.
“I spend ages tuning it on the pads and often we'll use only our jabs for whole rounds when sparring.
“Footwork's a big point for getting your range and distance with the jab. You need to step in. Also you can't paw with a jab. You have to make sure it comes right from the shoulder. That way you'll get another inch on it.”
Richie Woodhall (ex world champion): “The old man [his father-trainer Len] always drummed into me that the jab was the most important punch and I spent hours developing it on the pads with him.
“There's different types of jab – range-finders and short ones on the inside. Even the short lads need a jab to gain the inside position. As I was never the biggest puncher, I needed it as my points-scorer. Hit and move.
“You need to adopt the ‘on guard' position, keep the chin low, behind the left shoulder and make sure you follow the same path back after you've thrown it. At range, too many fail to
maximise their reach. You have to really straighten the arm out.”
Nicky Piper (commentator): “As a youngster, I was always taught to throw it, aiming for the back of the bag. Consequently, in the ring I'd aim it for the back of the opponent's head, punching through the target.
“It's a distance punch. You can't be too close or too far out. Personally, I liked to use it as my first punch of the contest and floored four opponents that way. Get their respect early when they're cold and maybe haven't got their range and distance.
“Technically, you need to be nicely balanced and push off with the back foot. A lot is down to the timing of the movements between the torso, the shoulder and then the arms and hand, a bit like a golf swing. There needs to be a complete crossover of the shoulders; as the left moves back, the right travels through.
“You can't fall in with it. If the chest goes past the right knee, the balance is all wrong.”
Rendall Munroe (European champion): “A perfect jab should come from the chin, using your other hand to keep the chin covered. It should be straight and stiff and that way the shoulder will be covering the chin.
“As a southpaw, moving away from an orthodox fighter's right hand, the jab's an effective offensive punch. It goes outside the opponent's right and sets up the left.
“But I'm a thinking fighter. Sometimes I'll just flick the jab out, give them something to think about and other times, “bam”, let them know you're there.
“Sometimes I get a bit lazy with my jab, which is bad because it starts and ends most combinations.”
Emanuel Steward (Legendary trainer): “A simple straight jab is the closest punch to your opponent. If you land in the centre of the face, you can cause cuts, lots of damage.
“It's good to target the eye area so the opponent won't see the power punch coming after the jab.
Subconsciously, the opponent becomes preoccupied with the jab.
“The jab causes the most pain of all the punches because it lands in the centre of the face.
“Keep your jab in line with the opponent's face, don't jab from up or down, step in and keep your weight evenly balanced.
“Fighters should jab to the body and the head, not just because it hurts to the body but because it gets the opponent's eyes and hands moving in two different directions.
“Doubling up on your jab is particularly good if the other guy is trying to counter your jab. You have to keep him totally uncoordinated.
“Sometimes we even let them jab first, lose their balance and then jab back.
“The jab is the key punch; it's like the quarterback in football.”
The jab scores points but the rear hand, thrown with real intent, is the one that does damage
The Rear Hand
Emanuel Steward (Legendary trainer): “It's important to aim to get the thumb of the glove in the centre of the opponent's chin. The straightest punch through the centre will land, as guys these days glue their hands to the side of their heads.
“You have to squeeze it in – most gloves now are pre-formed foam rubber and they fit your hand 70 per cent closed, but you have to throw the shot straight from the chin, squeeze it in and turn the weight over. That's a knockout punch.”
Tony Bellew (light-heavyweight prospect): “My right hand is all about balance, timing and technique and it does a lot of damage. I use it a lot differently now from in the amateurs.
“I used to use it just to score but now it's thrown with intent. There's more turn in the hips, I plant my feet more, pick the shot more.
“I aim for anywhere my opponent leaves himself open – chin, temple, anywhere I can cause damage.
“You have to turn your wrist over, extend the arm fully and, most importantly, keep practising. I still practise for hours every day.”
Andy Lee (southpaw middleweight contender): “Your straight left, after the jab, is your bread and butter. Also, for a southpaw against an orthodox fighter, it's a safer punch because you can lean to your right, with your head outside their right and hit them straight between the eyes.
“The straight left to the body is also a very low-risk punch and you're aiming at an open target.
“I throw my left, pull it back fast and put it back to my chin; don't ever pull back with your chin in the air.
“I use my lead hand to feint then the left goes out straight – my right hand in a position to defend myself – and finishes in the same place as it starts.
“When hitting the bags and the pads it's vital to get your shoulder behind and punch all the way through. I see a lot of boxers hit ‘at' the bags and, on the pads, the trainers bring the pads to the gloves.
“It's important to turnt the wrist and lock the hand, get that full extension. A lot of your power comes from balance, so you should keep your feet planted – for a strong foundation – and shift your weight from the back foot to the front foot at the same time as the punch lands.
“But it's a mental thing as well; you have to focus on hitting hard.
“In my third pro fight, against a guy called Rodney Freeman, I caught him coming in with his chin in the air. A quick one-two, I didn't even think about it, but when it lands clean, you know it... and the opponent knows it.”
Terry Edwards (Olympic coach):“Because it has longer to travel, the back hand should be used relatively sparingly as a counter, or should form part of a combination. It shouldn't really be let out on its own.
“From the ‘on guard' position, you drive off the rear leg, rotate through the hips, taking the body weight towards, but never over, the front foot.
“If you ‘fall in', you lose balance. Throughout, the punching arm must remain relaxed to maximise acceleration.
“To optimise power, you need to hit through the target area by a couple of inches.
“After contact, recoil the punching arm at speed back through the same path. Throughout, the non-punching hand needs to be up against the head with the elbow protecting the body.”