Nicolino Locche was the original rope-a-dope master.

Muhammad Ali used rope-a-dope to defeat George Foreman back in the day, but Locche mastered the move.

Rope-a-dope has always been a fairly controversial tactic. Some boxers praise its effectiveness as a way to conserve energy and tire out an opponent, while others say it’s too defensive.

Boxers who praise the rope-a-dope point to its ability to turn the tide of a fight by allowing a fighter to absorb punches and then counter-attack just at the right moment when the opponent is tired. They also point to its psychological impact, as it can be frustrating and unnerving if you’re on the receiving end.

Those who disapprove of the rope-a-dope move, on the other hand, argue that it can be seen as a negative or overly defensive strategy that relies on waiting for the other guy to tire himself out, rather than actively trying to win the fight. They also point out that a boxer who goes for the rope-a-dope must have a good chin, defensive skills, and stamina to be able to handle a flurry of blows while on the ropes.

Muhammad Ali made effective use of rope-a-dope in the legendary Rumble in the Jungle fight against George Foreman and he’s the fighter most often associated with the move. However, this was the only time Ali successfully used this tactic during his career. It has been attempted by a few famous boxers since then, but, to be fair, its success rate is relatively low and it’s not that common to see it in boxing today. There are some notable exceptions, of course.

Manny Pacquiao on the ropes

Manny Pacquiao has used the rope-a-dope technique in several of his fights throughout his career. In his fight against Oscar De La Hoya in 2008, Pacquiao used the rope-a-dope to tire out De La Hoya and ultimately win the fight by technical knockout in the 8th round.

In his fight against Miguel Cotto in 2009, Pacquiao used the rope-a-dope to absorb Cotto’s punches and then counter with his own, ultimately winning the fight by technical knockout in the 12th round.

When he went up against Timothy Bradley in 2012, Pacquiao used the rope-a-dope to absorb Bradley’s punches and then counter with his own, ultimately winning the fight by unanimous decision.

Pacquiao has an aggressive fighting style and doesn’t typically rely on rope-a-dope in his fights. He is more well known for his speed and power, which he uses to out-box his opponents and make them defensive. Still, when he has used this uncommon tactic, he has used it well.

Nicolino Locche

Nicolino Locche is the boxer who mastered rope-a-dope

Argentinian boxer Nicolino Locche was known for his exceptional defensive skills, and he is arguably the best example of truly mastering rope-a-dope, since he used it successfully on multiple occasions (unlike Ali). He was known for his ability to use the ropes effectively as part of his defensive strategy, and was often referred to as “The Untouchable.”

Locche would fight with his hands down, but he was able to avoid punches by leaning away from them, bobbing and weaving and slipping, making it difficult for his opponents to land clean punches. He would lean against the ropes and use them to absorb the impact of punches, and then counter with quick, accurate punches of his own. He had a very unorthodox style, which made him a difficult target. Locche is considered one of the greatest defensive fighters of all time. He had a professional record of 117-4-14 with 14 draws, he successfully defended his world titles 17 times, and retired as an undefeated champion.

Rope-a-dope is worth exploring if you’re a fighter who can handle it, but it’s probably best left to the pros. Meanwhile, we highly recommend this documentary about Nicolino Locche. Enjoy.