At its core, boxing is nothing more than a collection of attacking and defensive techniques primarily performed by the arms. We can all learn the techniques, and drill them to the point we can execute them perfectly.
Yet, some fighters possess a special something that makes them mesmerizing to watch. They’re throwing and defending from punches all the same, but there’s something about the way they do it that has fans tuning into every fight.
That special something is STYLE.
It’s what makes a boxer exciting to watch… or a complete bore.
Performing techniques in a particular way is the missing ingredient that completes a fighter. Once you find it, you’ll know how you fight best, which will ultimately lead to you winning more rounds.
Your boxing style is not about what angle your hook comes in at, or how much weight you have on the front foot, or any other nuances of technique – although these elements do play their part. But is more of an overview of the complete package, and your strategy when fighting.
A fighter’s skill, speed, aggression, power, and ability to take a punch, all play their role in developing a style that is distinctly them.
But out of all traits, aggressiveness is the factor that most influences style.
Aggressive Vs. Defensive Fighters
Fighters are often defined by how much they push the fight.
Some boxers are all-out aggressors that will keep pushing forward and swinging, even when the tank is empty. Others play a much more tactical game and prefer to hold back and wait for the opportunity to strike.
The fans tend to love aggressive fighters because they’re exciting to watch, but a defensive fighter that has a solid counter-punch can be just as thrilling.
Boxers can be both aggressive and defensive fighters and switch between the two at different stages of the fight.
Here are the key characteristics of each category.
Aggressive boxers like to keep the tempo of the fight high. They’re always pushing forward, controlling the center of the ring, forcing their opponent into the corner or ropes, or dominating in any way they can.
Their relentless forward momentum makes them favorable in the judge’s eyes, even if all they’re doing is eating knuckle sandwiches.
Defensive fighters prefer to let the fight come to them. They’ll stand off from their opponent and are much more likely to counter punch than lead the attack.
It’s nothing to do with fear, but how they perform best. Sometimes pitting two defensive fighters against each other can result in a dull fight.
The 4 Boxing Styles
Whether a fighter is aggressive or defensive in the ring usually leads to them being further classified as one of four boxing styles.
- Swarmer – all out aggressive
- Out-boxer – defensive
- Slugger – aggressive but can be both
- Boxer Puncher – both
Swarmers are regarded as the big guns in the world of boxing because they throw unforgivable punches. They are considered utterly fearless, and even downright stupid by some.
The Swarmer is also known as the Crowder as they surround their opponent and keep pushing the fight.
The Swarmer stays close to the opponent to be able to unleash brutal combinations of uppercuts and hooks. Fighting close can also be the downfall of the Swarmer, as they often take a lot of punches (but it doesn’t matter to them_.
Because of their ‘no pain, no gain’ attitude, Swarmers are most likely to win the match, as well as the hearts of fans.
If you are seeking inspiration, check out these famous Swarmers:
- Ray Robinson
- Erik Morales
- Travis Simms
Unlike the Swarmer, the out-boxer takes his time in the ring and maintains distance from his opponent.
Out-boxers rely on longer range punches to make up for their lack of power. The out-boxer needs to be quick so they can wear down their opponents.
They frequently use the jab to keep their opponent at the peripheries of the striking zone.
Their offensive play is calculated, as they stand back and pick their shots if they see openings. But they’re most comfortable maintaining distance, trying to lure their attacker in, and waiting for the perfect time to unload with a fight-ending counter.
It’s a much more tactical game.
Over time, some out-boxers learn to throw brutal and effective long-range punches. Learning to be lethal at range is almost a necessity for outside boxers to win fights, as their lack of aggression doesn’t bode well in some judges eyes.
Some of the most famous out-boxers include:
- Benny Leonard
- Muhammad Ali
- Larry Holmes
Sluggers are usually bigger and slower compared to other boxers. They throw fewer punches, but the ones they do land are absolutely devastating.
Sluggers are notoriously hard punchers and have the ability to knock down their opponents with a single punch.
The downside of packing all that power into a punch is that sluggers tend to get tired in the early rounds of a fight. However, they’ll keep trucking on, ever searching to land that knockout blow.
Put two sluggers in the ring, and they’ll have it out until someone collapses – either through a knockout or sheer exhaustion. Going toe-to-toe in this manner means that sluggers can take on a lot of damage in a fight. They’re known for their reckless abandon for protecting themselves.
Some of the most famous Sluggers include:
- Max Baer
- George Foreman
- Riddick Bowe
The Boxer Puncher
Boxer Punchers are considered hybrids of the boxing world. They possess the speed of an Out-boxer, the power of a Slugger, and the aggression of a Swarmer.
They are the complete package and have the ability to change their fighting style to suit their opponent and the stage of the fight.
However, they are not invincible. Swarmers that can rush the fight and not give their opponent time to execute their game plan can overcome the skill of a boxer puncher.
No one is unbeatable, and everyone meets their match in the end.
Some of the most famous Boxer Punchers include:
- Marco Antonio Barrera
- Alexia Arguello
- Marcel Cerdan
What Boxing Style Wins?
So, the question is, which style beats which and why?
Well, here’s how it goes:
- Swarmer beats Boxer: This is mainly because the Swarmer crowds his opponent and throws brutal punches
- Slugger beats Swarmer: Sluggers may lack speed, but they throw devastating punches that can knock the lights out of a Swarmer in one go
- Boxer Puncher beats Slugger: This is a no-brainer. Boxers are practically hybrids. They are the masters of both defense and offense and do well against Sluggers because of their quick legs.
However, take the above information with a pinch of salt. There’s no rulebook that says that a Slugger will always beat a Swarmer or that a Boxer will always beat a Slugger.
Nothing is a sure thing when fighting.
When you’re throwing punches at break-neck speed, you only need to get clipped with something, and it’s lights out.
Which Style Are You?
Some of you will be advocates of a particular style due to it completely gelling with your skills, speed, power, and attitude to a fight.
But if you’ve not quite sure what style you are, or if you even have a style, don’t worry about it. It will become apparent in time, especially when you start sparring.
The thing is not to force a particular style if it’s not you. If you prefer to fight off the back foot, don’t change your style because you’re worried others perceive it as boring.
Own it. Master it. And you’re much more likely to be hailed a great fighter regardless of your style.