Thursday, February 26, 2009

Old School Balance

Friends of Boxing,

Power. Speed. Combos. Jabs. People have their ideas of what the key to boxing is. The one factor, however, that is hardly ever mentioned is balance. Balance, though, is not only the key to boxing -- it is the house. With balance, a boxer, like the early Tyson, will have the leverage in his punches and resulting power. A great offense, as Marvelous Marvin Hagler demonstrated, comes from balance and results in the ability to be ever-ready and in position to connect, even against the difficult southpaw. A super defense, JC Chavez style, is born from great balance and results in smooth side-to-side head movement and advanced footwork and counterpunching. All this, however, must begin with basic training and continually monitoring of improvement by the trainer.

Balance creates leverage which creates power. Leverage exists before the punch is thrown and not while the punch is thrown as so many teach. A punch with balance and leverage arrives with the speed, power, and snap so many trainers talk about and so many boxers wish they had. The early Mike Tyson is an example of how balance creates the leverage for awesome power.

Not only does balance form power but also the best offense. The balanced boxer will always be in position to throw a punch or combination regardless of whether moving forward, laterally, backwards, and even when hurt; and especially against a southpaw. The trouble with fighting a southpaw is not the lack of positioning to land punches (the straight right or the left hook over the southpaw's right, etc) but becoming unbalanced, and the resulting inability to land the right hand/left hook and avoid the southpaw's straight left. Hagler demonstrated superb balance and offense against all style of boxers he fought, whether the opponent was a southpaw or even when he, himself, turned southpaw.

Power, leverage, and offense won't mean too much without the expert defense that balance provides. The balanced boxer moves the upper body smoothly side-to-side in avoiding punches and counters with leverage. Then comes the footwork to position oneself for the best angles, power, and to avoid the return punch. JC Chavez Sr., king of defense for almost all of his career, landed his wicked perfect left hook to the body and avoided attacks from long, medium, and short range then continually countered with a right hand over his opponent's jab because of balance.

To end, or better yet, to start, the focus on balance should begin on the first day of training and end only when the boxer retires. If the fighter has not gone through intensive balance training, the trainer must pause all other things and get back to the basics of balance. This training includes making proper stance a habit, drilling on all areas of footwork, and learning to keep centered at all times, whether on offense or defense.

Other balance champions to learn from:
Marvin Hagler
Ricardo "Finito" Lopez
JM Marquez
Reggie Johnson
Bernard Hopkins
Azumah Nelson

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