10 Tips for Fighting Southpaw: Learning From Boxing’s Left-Handed Champions

Some beginner (orthodox) boxers are intimidated by southpaws. Let’s get past that.

Boxing has always been a sport where technique and strategy are just as important as physical strength and speed. One of the key elements that can give a fighter an edge in the ring is their stance, and one of the most effective and unpredictable stances in boxing is the southpaw stance.

Over the years, there have been many famous American boxing champions who were southpaws, including Marvin Hagler, Pernell Whitaker, Manny Pacquiao, Terence Crawford, Joe Calzaghe, Zab Judah, Hector Camacho, Michael Nunn, and Chad Dawson.

Here are 10 tips for fighting a southpaw, based on the lessons and techniques of boxing’s greatest left-handed champions.

1. Watch out for the southpaw’s power hand

The southpaw’s power hand is their left hand, which can be a devastating weapon if it lands cleanly. Be aware of the danger of the southpaw’s left hand, and work on defending against it. This is a technique that Marvin Hagler used to great effect, as he was able to neutralize his opponents’ left hands with his defensive skills.

2. Work on your counterpunch

Just as with orthodox boxers, counterpunching is a highly effective strategy when facing a southpaw, as it allows you to take advantage of openings. Work on your timing and accuracy, and look for opportunities to counterpunch when your opponent throws their left hand. This is a technique that Terence Crawford has used to great effect in his fights.

3. Focus on body shots

Southpaw boxers tend to have a strong lead hand, which can make it difficult to land head shots. However, they are often more vulnerable to body shots, especially on their right side. By focusing on body shots, you can wear down your opponent and set up your own combinations.

Some of the best boxers to study for body shots include Joe Calzaghe, Oscar De La Hoya, and Terence Crawford.

4. Study your opponent’s footwork

One of the most important things you can do when facing a southpaw boxer is to study their footwork. Southpaw boxers typically have a strong lead foot, which can make it difficult to get inside and land punches. However, if you can learn to read your opponent’s movements and anticipate their footwork, you can use it to your advantage.

Some of the best southpaw boxers to study for footwork include Marvin Hagler, Pernell Whitaker, and Vicente Salvidar.

5. Keep your lead hand up

When fighting a southpaw boxer, it’s important to keep your lead hand up to protect your head and body. This is especially important if your opponent has a strong lead hook, which can be a devastating punch from a southpaw. By keeping your lead hand up, you can block or deflect your opponent’s punches and set up your own counterattacks.

Some of the best boxers to study for lead-hand defense include Manny Pacquiao, Terence Crawford, and Chad Dawson.

6. Use feints and angles

Feints and angles are powerful tools for confusing and disorienting a southpaw boxer. By feinting with your lead hand or foot, you can force your opponent to react, which can create openings for your punches. Similarly, by using angles and lateral movement, you can make it difficult for your opponent to land punches and set up your own attacks.

Some of the best boxers to study for feints and angles include Zab Judah, Hector Camacho, and Michael Nunn.

7. Stay balanced and stay off your back heel

When fighting a southpaw boxer, it’s important to stay balanced and stay on your toes. This can help you maintain your distance and avoid getting caught off guard. By being light on your feet, you can also set up your own attacks and move in and out of range more effectively. The same goes for fighting orthodox.

Some of the best boxers to study for balance and footwork include Pernell Whitaker, Manny Pacquiao, and Marvin Hagler.

8. Don’t lose your cool

Fighting a southpaw boxer can be frustrating, especially if you’re having difficulty landing punches. However, it’s important to be patient and not rush your attacks. By staying calm and waiting for openings, you can set up your own combinations and avoid getting caught by counterattacks.

Some of the best boxers to study for patience and composure include Chad Dawson, Michael Nunn, and Zab Judah.

9. Control the ring

No matter who you’re fighting or what his stance is, it’s important to control the center of the ring. This is especially true when fighting a southpaw boxer, who may try to use their footwork and lateral movement to control the pace of the fight. By controlling the center of the ring, you can limit your opponent’s movement and force them to fight on your terms.

Some of the best boxers to study for controlling the center of the ring include Oscar De La Hoya, Joe Calzaghe, and Terence Crawford.

10. Use the jab to set up your attacks

The jab is a versatile and powerful weapon in any boxer’s arsenal, but it can be especially effective when fighting a southpaw. By using your jab to set up your attacks, you can create openings for your punches and keep your opponent off balance. This is especially important if the other guy has a strong lead hand, as it can help you keep him at a distance.

Some of the best boxers to study for using the jab include Manny Pacquiao, Pernell Whitaker, and Marvin Hagler.

Bonus tip. Train for southpaw opponents!

This one might be obvious, but if you want to feel comfortable fighting a southpaw, train for it! Studying the footwork, defense, and offense of some of boxing’s greatest left-handed champions and the orthodox boxers they fought can spark ideas for a comprehensive approach. It also helps a lot to get some sparring experience with a lefty, so seek them out at our gym. Remember to stay patient, stay focused, and allow your brain to adapt to the new experience.