The Slugger. The Power Puncher. When people think of boxers, they usually think of the Slugger. The fighter who throws that one big punch that knocks an opponent to the ground.
Fighters like George Foreman, Sonny Liston, and Vitali Klitschko won their belts by mastering the art of the Slugger style. These fighters were known for closing on their opponents and unleashing their fists in destructive blows.
But becoming a Slugger type fighter does not come easy. It requires a focus on developing absolutely devastating power punches to the exclusion of almost all other fundamentals.
You will need to build a body that is solid power and the mechanics that can release that power all at once.
In this focus on fighting styles, we dive into the Slugger, or brawler, style.
A Slugger needs raw power and the ability to take a hit. The Slugger must also be aggressive in the ring, pursuing their opponents ready to pounce with power when the moment is right.
Let’s take a closer look at what makes up the Slugger style.
The Slugger Style: What it Looks Like
The Slugger style is not elegant or technical. It does not seek to overwhelm opponents with a flurry of well-aimed blows. You will not see a Slugger try to wear down an opponent with footwork.
This style relies on brute force, a strong chin, and raw punching power. A Slugger throws powerful punches with the goal of knocking an opponent out as quickly as possible.
Fighters who choose the slugging style don’t use a lot of footwork and tend not to move around the ring too much. They prefer an aggressive attack that puts constant pressure on an opponent. They’re going to put in a lot of time on the heavy bag, training their body to deliver explosive blows.
Due to this aggressive nature and reliance on power, Sluggers absolutely commit to their punches. This often leaves them open to counter punches and quick jabs from the outside. So Sluggers usually develop the ability to take a lot of punishment and still keep attacking.
There’s a tendency to think of these brawler types as unwilling or unable to grasp the finer points of boxing. Why else would they choose this type of fighting. But that doesn’t give them enough credit. Plenty of smart fighters, fighters who understand the nuance of the game, still opt for this style because of its benefits.
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The Slugger Fighter: Why Fighters Choose It
Just as the out-boxer style usually demands a tall boxer, so too does the Slugger demand a particular body type. Sluggers must be powerfully built, through either natural strength or a dedicated and focused strength-building routine. If a fighter begins with this type of build, the brawling style feels like a natural fit.
A fighter might choose the Slugger fighting style because they like the notion of knocking out opponents with raw power. Afterall, most people don’t get into this sport with romantic visions of winning their fights through decision.
Folks might also choose this style because they lack the patience to set up more complicated offensive strategies. There is something to be said for aggressively pursuing your opponent and then releasing a few powerful hits. It is obvious, but effective.
Lastly, for fighters who can’t or won’t develop good footwork, this is the most effective style. Swarmers and Out-Boxers depend on good footwork to get the job done. On the other hand, the only thing the brawler really needs to do is keep moving forward.
The Slugger Counter: How You Should Defend It
How do you avoid getting taken down by a Slugger? Don’t stand in front of one.
Avoid the hit
The simple truth of a fight with these power punchers is that if they solidly connect, you will not last long. But the brawler needs to plant their feet and get set up in order to deliver a truly devastating blow. This gives savvy opponents time to slip out of range to avoid the big hit.
If you’re used to dancing around your opponents, like the out-boxer, this should be relatively easy. Keep moving, keep jabbing, and keep slipping out of range after you make contact.
For swarmers, though, this presents more of a challenge. The swarmer strategy relies on stepping into the Slugger’s range to deliver a barrage of punches. While the swarmer punches, the Slugger can set up and unload.
A swarmer will have to learn how to avoid those big shots, or improve their footwork and defensive capabilities to protect against the big punch. Working the body from the outside could be an effective strategy here.
Work the Body
We know that the entire body generates the power for a punch. It begins in the legs, winds through the core, and then enters the fist through the shoulder and arms. But if you can break any part of that chain, then you can limit the damage a brawler might inflict.
Working the body is one way you can interrupt that chain. When a fighter’s core gets bruised and battered, they can’t transfer as much energy from their legs. And if a brawler can’t use their legs and core, their punches will end up being far less powerful.
A Slugger may have pretty good defensive capabilities. They can usually block and parry quite well. They also tend to have an ability to take punches without being significantly affected.
At the same time, the aggressive, big swing mentality often sees Sluggers fully committing to punches that don’t land cleanly. This leaves a fighter open to counters that an opponent can exploit.
If you can entice a Slugger to punch when you want, then you will have many opportunities to deliver counter blows to great effect.
Outlast the fighter
The Slugger will tend to tire more quickly than other types of fighters.
More muscles take more energy to maintain. And every time they wind up for a knockout punch, it consumes a big chunk of their reserves. This type of fighter wants to win by KO and do it early. A Slugger in a fight that goes past the fifth or sixth round is a tired Slugger, and may not be nearly as effective in later rounds.
If you can force the Slugger to move and exert themselves throughout the early rounds (without taking too many hits, yourself), they may tire out, leaving them open for attack. But to make this strategy work, you need to make sure that you have focused on training your own stamina.
Even if you don’t manage to knock out the Slugger, they are built to take punishment, you can probably outscore them.
The Slugger fighting style offers a lot of advantages for strong boxers with less than stellar footwork. But it’s also vulnerable to a number of specific strategies.