People often overlook the most important weapon a fighter has. Many are mesmerized by a fighters hands whether they be explosively powerful or blinding fast.
What many overlook though is that footwork is the foundation that the best qualities are built on. It’s the legs that can seal the deal or save the day for a fighter. Footwork is also brushed over nowadays and lack of this often exposes a fighter as was the case with Kelly Pavlik last weekend or if it’s fully developed, allows them to put in a performance of a life time as was the case with Hopkins.
I named this article the power to give and take away because that’s what great footwork allows a fighter to do in a fight. What I mean by that is that your feet allow you to get in punching range to give you your best punching opportunities and at the same time getting you out of range to avoid being hit yet getting you back in range just like that to give again or get off like we like to say in boxing and striking. A perfect example of what awesome footwork can do for a fighter was displayed last weekend by Bernard ‘The Executioner’ Hopkins. It’s VERY fair to label Bernard the executioner again after he executed the perfect fight plan in shutting down while shutting out Kelly Pavlik.
Getting off while not getting hit. The factor that allowed Bernard to dominate the fight was the way in which he used his footwork to keep turning Kelly never allowing him to really set and get his own power shots off. It was amazing to see Bernard at age 43 darting in really quick to land some punches then pivoting away to avoid the return fire. Bernard executed what boxing really is, to hit and NOT be hit.
Bernard gave a lesson to the young fighters out there on how to shut a feared puncher down. You keep the puncher turning never allowing the fighter to set and plant his feet to dig into his shots.
Movement was also the key to beating another feared and far more viscous puncher in Mike Tyson. Tyson did his best work when the fighter was right in front of him. But if the fighter used his legs and kept Mike turning, he would keep him out of his rhythm as Buster Douglas and Holyfield proved.
How to take movement away. A way to combat a fighter who moves a lot using angles is to cut off the ring. The thing is if you don’t know how to use your legs properly then you can’t cut off the ring. This will allow a fighter to have his way with you.
Cutting off the ring while making the ring smaller will force a fighter to stand and fight more.
Seeing is believing. You obviously see now the importance of footwork. It doesn’t matter how strong you get in the gym, how explosive your punching power is. If you can’t use your feet, you’ll get beat and it’s that simple.
Now when watching fights pay attention to the fighter’s punching stance and movement more. You’ll begin to differentiate the true prospects from the suspects. You’ll also begin to determine what style can trouble them in future fights.
Footwork trumps all. Whether it’s developed or not will make or break a fighter, expose him or take him to new heights.