A Short Introduction to the Different Styles of Boxing

No person is the same. And the adage can be said in the sport of boxing. All boxers understand that the rule of the game is simple – punch your opponent until you knock him out, gives up, or the final bell sounded. But then, the way a boxer fights is what makes him different among the rest.

There are different types of boxers, depending on their strengths, their skill levels, and other correlated attributes. A boxer plays the game the way he does because of the fusion of all these features.

Different Boxing Styles

Brawler / Slugger

Brawlers are those who punch and punch with utter disregard for technique, relying heavily on their punching power to win. Most of them are slow and has poor footwork skills. They also tend to get hit a lot and most of the time, they catch a lot of shots on the way in.

While this can be a bad idea for a sound boxer, brawlers who can take tons of punches and deliver tons of damage in return sometimes win bouts. One powerful punch is all they need to win a fight.

George Foreman was a pure brawler and his durability along with his relentless style makes him one of the most feared brawlers when he was still active.

Classic boxer / Distance Fighter

The classic boxer, also known as the distance fighter, optimizes the distance between him and his opponent. A distance fighter prefers to pepper their opponents with long distance punches, most notably the jab, in an effort to keep them at bay and tire them throughout the fight. Another trait of the classic / distance fighter is that they also have better footwork than most of their opponents.

The jab and other long range punches do not carry huge amounts of power, which explains why most distance fighters win by points. However, a distance fighter knockout their opponents if they are able to tire them down the stretch.

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Most notable proponent of this style is Muhammad Ali, whose quick feet and sharp jabs helped him become one of the legends of the sport. It is also important to note that Ali is no power puncher. Boxer-Punchers


Perhaps the type of boxer that requires a lot of skills in their armory, the boxer-puncher tend to wears their opponents down with powerful combinations and go for the knockout using a series of punches or even with just one shot. With deft footwork and blazing hand speed, they can slide in and do some damage and slip out before the other boxer can retaliate. Most traits of a boxer-puncher include speed, good chin, and extreme mobility.

Manny Pacquiao is a fine example of a boxer-puncher. He is naturally fast and agile and he also packs power in both hands.

Swarmer / Pressure Fighter

As the name suggests, pressure fighters prefer to stay up close and in front of their opponents and throw a lot of powerful combinations to frustrate them, take them off their game, and wear them down for the big finish. While their style may be the same as the brawler / slugger, a pressure fighter is more defensively sound and a lot skillful than their brawling counterparts.

Pressure fighters can bob and weave, slip to the sides, and prefer to duck punches than block them. They also have to have a strong chin because they also tend to get hit a lot, although not as much as a brawler.

One remarkable pressure fighter is Mike Tyson. He always closes the distance between him and the other man and unleash flurries of power punches to keep the bout short and sweet.

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Perhaps the most defensive-minded of all types of boxers, counterpunchers have tons of defensive skills at their disposal. A counterpuncher is almost always not the aggressor, but their offense is always initiated with good defense.

A counterpuncher throws a shot after slipping or deflecting the other boxer’s punches. To be an effective counterpuncher means you need to have some decent amount of power as well as above-average hand speed.

Perhaps the most known counterpunchers today include Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Matching up the styles

Each type of boxer can dominate and be dominated. A brawler can easily beat a pressure fighter but struggles against a distance fighter. A distance fighter on the other hand, tends to have a hard time against pressure fighters.

But there are some instances where a boxer changes his style while in the fight to gain the upper hand. Bernard Hopkins can switch from a distance boxer to a pressure fighter if the situation calls for it. Manny Pacquiao, a boxer-puncher, can easily revert to his brawling self if he feels his opponent will go down with sheer punching power.

Each style has its potential to make any bout exciting and fulfilling, despite its flaws and shortcomings. As they say in boxing, styles make fights.

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by Ken Ragpala