Focus on Fighting Styles, Part 4 – The Boxer-Puncher

The hybrid boxer-puncher possesses the strengths of all the styles we’ve covered so far. This fighter has the technical skill and footwork to keep out of your range and beat you on points. Or they can step in and land those massive power punches that knock opponents out. 

In an ideal world, every fighter would choose to be a boxer-puncher. Unfortunately, this style is difficult to master and requires a dedication to training EVERY aspect. You can’t just focus on speed or footwork or power. You need to own all of it, if you choose to go down this path. Because if you don’t commit to truly developing your entire game, then you won’t excel at any of it..

In our fourth installment of “Focus on Fighting Styles” we discuss the Boxer-Puncher style.  

A fighter who masters the art of the Boxer-Puncher style has a lot of tools to draw from.

The Boxer-Puncher Style: What it Looks Like

The previous three styles we covered (Slugger, Swarmer, and Out-Fighter) work a little like a version of Rock/Paper/Scissors. Each style is strong against one of the other two and weak against the third. 

Boxer-Punchers lack this inherent weakness. They can choose an in-ring strategy that works against their opponent’s style. 

Against a slugger, they can stay out of range. Against a swarmer, they can throw damaging attacks on the inside. And against an out-boxer, they can get inside to land those power punches that will do some damage. 

Or they can combine the best aspects of these styles into a single winning strategy. Act like an out-boxer in the early rounds by wearing out opponents through technical skill and long range harassment. Then, when an opponent gets tired, transition to slugger mode, move in close, and begin throwing power punches looking for the KO. 

The Boxer-Puncher: Why Fighters Choose It

Honestly, why wouldn’t you choose this style? It combines the strengths of two dominant styles (out-boxer and slugger) without many of their weaknesses. A number of the greatest fighters in history employed this style. Executed correctly, it’s hard to beat. 

But not everyone can or will opt to become a boxer-puncher.

Physique Requirements

As with out-boxers, you can’t just choose this style. A fighter needs a certain build to effectively employ a boxer-puncher style. 

You need a relatively long range to effectively attack opponents from distance. But you also need a muscular enough build that you can be a real power puncher. 

Training Requirements

A boxer-puncher has to train speed, power, stamina, footwork, pure technique, strategy, etc. This type of boxer needs to excel in every possible aspect of boxing. It’s not enough to have a  good jab or a strong right. If you want to be a boxer-puncher, you need an entire armory of strong punches. 

Developing into a boxer-puncher is going to require that you spend more time in the gym, sacrifice even more time for a sport that already demands a lot.

But if you put the time in, if you want it bad enough, you can become the kind of fighter that people fear to face off against.  

The Boxer-Puncher Counter: How You Should Defend It

The Boxer-Puncher is one of the most difficult types of fighters to plan for. Historically, most Boxer-Punchers either lose to other Boxer-Punchers (e.g. Hearns’ 1981 loss to Sugar Ray Leonard) or because they chose the wrong in-ring strategy (e.g. Sugar Ray Leonard tries to out-slug Robert Duran in their first match). 

If you aren’t a boxer-puncher yourself, you can’t always count on your Boxer-Puncher opponent to make critical mistakes. And their versatility will make them a challenge to defeat. 

But we’ve already discussed how to derail the plans of a slugger or an out-boxer, so the trick here will be to find a way to combine those into a single strategy. 


As we discussed when talking about the Slugger, you best defense against the Boxer-Puncher’s explosive power is to avoid taking the hit. 

This type of fighter may have better footwork than a slugger, but the physics of power punching remains the same. They HAVE to plant their feet to deliver the big punch. 

Stay mobile and stay out of range until you’re ready to attack. This won’t stop you from getting hit with the Boxer-Puncher’s jab (and they WILL have a great jab), but it should keep you from getting battered by those explosive crosses and hooks. 


When discussing counters for both the slugger and the out-boxer, one tactic appeared both times: work the body. Over time, damage to the body will take away many of the advantages that the Boxer-Puncher possesses. Hits to the torso are harder to dodge or defend. Over time they take away a boxer’s legs or reduce their ability to punch with power. 

And like the swarmer, you’re best friend will be pressure. Be aggressive. If you’re an out-boxer, outbox your opponent. Cut off the ring. Jab, shift away, and jab again. Don’t allow them to set the tempo.

If you’re a slugger, outslug your opponent. Chase them down. Force your way inside and batter them. Get to medium range where your most powerful punches can do damage. 

Remember, a boxer-puncher is good at everything, but doesn’t specialize. They tend to lack the superior cardiovascular endurance of a true out-boxer or the sheer physical resilience of a dedicated slugger. 

If you can keep them moving defensively, keep them taking shots from long range, and keep chipping away at their body, then they will become vulnerable. And that vulnerability will open them up to attack from your more traditional approach, whatever that may be.

2 thoughts on “Focus on Fighting Styles, Part 4 – The Boxer-Puncher”

  1. Another very good piece, well written and informative. I hope all of the coaches out there become more familiar with the different fighting styles you’ve elaborated on. I’ve seen coaches favor one style or another even if their aspiring boxer is not suited to that particular style. I think a fuller understanding of these different styles may enable coaches to teach the appropriate style to their boxers and ultimately gain greater success. Thank you!

  2. As usual, great thanks to Mr. Cunningham for his informative and eloquent explanation of the different fighting styles.
    It is very generous of you to share with us your technical knowledge on what to look for in the ring as you discern and dissect so well those styles.

    Thank you Sir for sharing your expertise. We are very grateful for this very practical and useful information.

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