Warrior Punch is supported by readers. When you buy with our links, we may earn a commission.

Southpaw vs. Orthodox: Which Stance is Best For You?

The art of striking in martial sports revolves around the fighter’s stance, a crucial aspect influencing their performance in the ring. In boxing, two primary stances—Orthodox and Southpaw—are distinguished by which foot and hand lead the fighter’s position.

Understanding the nuances between the Southpaw and Orthodox stances, choosing the right one, and knowing how to face opponents with different stances is essential for mastering the sport.

In this article, we’ll explore the intricacies of these stances and help you navigate the complexities of these two distinctive styles.

The Orthodox Stance: Conventional Strength

The Orthodox stance is the more prevalent of the two, favored by most right-handed fighters.

In this stance, the boxer’s left foot is forward, anchoring their balance. Their left hand, often the weaker hand for right-handed people, leads the stance.

It is typically used for jabs, deflecting incoming strikes, and setting up more powerful combinations. On the other hand, the dominant right hand is held closer to the body, reserved as a ‘power hand’ for unleashing heavier, fight-ending blows.

This stance, steeped in the tradition of boxing, offers a good balance of defensive solidity and offensive capability.

Southpaw: The Unconventional Edge

In contrast to the more common orthodox stance, the Southpaw stance is a distinct mirror image.

Employed by left-handed fighters, the southpaw stance features the right foot and hand forward, with the left hand—the dominant hand—held back for powerful strikes.

This inversion can offer an edge to southpaw fighters, as their stance often appears unfamiliar and confusing to their orthodox counterparts, who are accustomed to facing opponents mirroring their stance.

These are the broad outlines of the Orthodox and Southpaw stances. Whether you’re shadowboxing in the gym or watching the pros land strikes in the ring, a firm understanding of these stances will surely enrich your boxing or mixed martial arts experience.

In the following sections, we’ll look into the strengths and weaknesses of each stance, notable fighters who’ve adopted them, and how to decide which one might be best for you.

Notable Orthodox Fighters

Some of boxing’s biggest legends have favored the Orthodox stance.

Muhammad Ali, “Sugar” Ray Robinson, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are a few who come to mind.

They leveraged their orthodox stance to deliver quick jabs and powerful right crosses, wearing down opponents with a mix of speed and power.

In mixed martial arts, fighters such as Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva have used the orthodox stance to dominate their respective divisions.

Notable Southpaw Fighters

In the world of the southpaw, one name often stands out: Manny Pacquiao. This dynamic left-handed boxer is renowned for his speed, agility, and precision.

Other great southpaw boxers include Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Pernell Whitaker.

In mixed martial arts, southpaws such as Conor McGregor have utilized their unusual stances to achieve significant success, baffling opponents with their unorthodox foot placement and striking angles.

Switching Stances: Can You Be Both Orthodox and Southpaw?

While most fighters are naturally inclined towards one stance or another, some fighters train to switch stances mid-fight.

This ability to transition fluidly from orthodox to southpaw (or vice versa) is a valuable skill in modern combat sports, offering the fighter versatility and unpredictability.

However, it requires significant training to master both stances’ body mechanics and strategies.

Southpaw vs. Orthodox: Who Wins?

Perhaps one of the most frequent questions posed by fight fans and martial arts practitioners is: which stance holds the upper hand? Orthodox or Southpaw? The answer isn’t straightforward.

Success in the ring is often determined more by individual skill, strategy, conditioning, and adaptability than by stance alone.

A southpaw fighter might have an initial advantage due to surprise and unfamiliarity, but an orthodox fighter who’s well-prepared and adaptable can counter these challenges effectively.

The stance is a crucial tool in the fighter’s arsenal, but it is the fighter’s heart, mind, and skill that truly make the difference.

Whether you’re a left-handed fighter launching a devastating left cross, a right-handed boxer delivering a swift right jab, or a martial artist comfortably switching stances, remember that mastery is born of understanding, practice, and perseverance.

How to Choose Your Stance: Orthodox or Southpaw?

The decision on which stance to adopt often comes down to comfort, control, and, most notably, handedness.

The Orthodox stance usually suits right-handed fighters, with their strong right hand kept back to deliver powerful punches. Conversely, the Southpaw stance typically benefits left-handed fighters, who can capitalize on their strong left hand similarly.

However, exceptions exist.

‘Right-handed Southpaws’—right-handed fighters who adopt a Southpaw stance—are a rarity but have been known to occur. They use their dominant right hand for leading and quick jabs, taking advantage of the surprise factor their unusual style creates. Famous right-handed southpaws include Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto.

Training plays a massive role in determining your stance, as the stance you practice the most becomes your ‘home’ position. If you are starting, it may be wise to learn the Orthodox stance first due to its prevalence and the vast knowledge available to help you master it.

Training Against Different Stances

Being an Orthodox fighter or a Southpaw is one thing; fighting against the opposite stance is another.

Orthodox fighters often find themselves thrown off by Southpaw fighters’ unfamiliar angles and techniques. At the same time, Southpaws face a similar problem due to their fewer numbers, meaning they spar less frequently with fellow Southpaws.

Training against different stances helps a boxer anticipate and counter various attacks.

Visiting your local boxing gym would provide ample opportunities to spar with Orthodox and Southpaw fighters, enhancing your versatility and adaptability in the ring.


Boxing is an art form, a kinetic chess match, where the stance is critical to a fighter’s success. Whether you’re an Orthodox fighter or a Southpaw, understanding your stance’s strengths and weaknesses, training against different stances, and appreciating the nuanced strategies involved can help you maximize your potential in the ring.

Ultimately, it’s not solely about the stance but how you utilize it. The stance should enhance your natural abilities and complement your fighting style.

As Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” So, whether you’re an Orthodox or Southpaw fighter, remember, it’s the fighter’s ability to adjust, strategize, and execute that defines the outcome of the fight.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This