Different Boxing Styles & Stances

When I was a beginner, I remember not knowing all the boxing terminology when it came to boxing stances and styles.

That’s why I’m writing this article so people new to boxing can understand the difference between a boxing style and stance. 

Your boxing stance will depend on which hand will be your lead. The style will also come naturally, but it’s good to know the different styles as you can switch between them when you become advanced.

First, we’ll look at the two main boxing stances.

Orthodox Stance

The majority of boxers fight in the orthodox stance as most people are right-handed. Even before you start boxing you would do this naturally if your right hand is your stronger punching hand.

An orthodox boxer will have their left foot as the leading foot and the right one behind. Even though you have your weaker side to your opponent, it allows you to get more power into your dominant right-hand punches.

This stance makes you naturally throw more left hooks than right hooks, but more right crosses than left. That’s why it’s important to practice your left hooks and 1-2-hook boxing combinations.

It’s also vital to work on your left jab as that will allow you to understand the distance between your reach and the opponent.

Southpaw Stance

The southpaw stance is used for left-handed boxers and this is why there are fewer southpaw boxers.

Instead of having your left foot forward, you would lead with your right foot so you can get maximum power from your stronger left hand. 

Being a southpaw boxer can give you an advantage as orthodox fighters might not have faced this stance before.

Some right-handed boxers learned to box southpaw so they could confuse their opponents in a fight. Michael Moorer and Marvin Hagler are two famous boxers that did this.

This works the same way for a left-hander like Oscar De La Hoya who boxed in a traditional orthodox stance even though he was left-handed. One of the most famous southpaw boxers of all time was Manny Pacquaio.

Different Boxing Styles

Now that I’ve explained the different boxing stances, we’ll look at the different types of boxing styles. The four basic boxing styles are the out-boxer, swarmer, slugger, and boxer-puncher.

Some boxers won’t be fixed to one style as they are with their stance as it can be beneficial to switch during a fight. Especially depending on your opponent’s style.

Out-boxer Style

The out-boxer style aims to keep a good-sized gap between yourself and the opponent so you can throw longer-range punches.

If you don’t have a long reach then this style won’t be good for you. This is because any punches thrown probably won’t connect well with the other fighter.

An out-boxer needs fast feet as they want to be able to move around the ring when the other boxer attacks. This also allows them to throw accurate punches from a distance.

Most out-boxers will think about winning on decision, but top boxers of this style will also be able to go for the knockout too.

Swarmer Style

The swarmer boxing style is arguably the hardest of the four as you need to apply constant pressure to your opponent. This is why it’s sometimes referred to as the pressure-fighter style.

One of the best swarmer-style boxers was Manny Pacquaio and this is why so many people loved to watch him fight.

This style requires you to have strong stamina as you need to keep the pressure on throughout the entire fight.

To do this you need to get as close as possible to the other fighter which can result in getting a jab to the face. So, it’s important to be able to take a punch and then still throw your own once you’ve gotten close.

If you’re short without a long reach this is the best boxing style as you’ll be able to land more punches.

Slugger Style

If you’ve ever watched heavyweight boxers go toe-to-toe you probably would have heard the term slugger before.

The boxing slugger style is common with heavier fighters as they have a lot of power, but they lack the finesse that lighter-weight boxers have. With that said, there were many great heavyweight boxers like Muhammad Ali who had speed and power.

Brawler boxers can often look lethargic, but they have the power to open an opponent’s defense with a strong punch. Following this, just one well-connected power blow can result in a knockout.

Sluggers will throw fewer punches than swarmers and out-boxers but the punches they do throw will be much harder.

The downside to the slugger style is that it can be easy to read their next punch making it easy to block and then counterattack.

Boxer-puncher Style

The boxer-puncher style is the hardest to define as it includes some qualities of the out-boxer, swarmer, and slugger style.

It is this that allows them to box both at a distance and up close. But unlike a swarmer, they have the power of a slugger which can be devastating if you allow them to get close.

It’s sometimes hard to tell if a boxer is using the boxer-puncher style as they’ll be punching from the outside and inside.

Two of the most famous boxer-punchers are Tank Davis and one of the best Mexican boxers of all time, Canelo Alvarez.


Which is the best boxing style?

It’s hard to say that there is one best boxing style as they all have their pros and cons. The boxer-puncher style might be the most effective though against the other styles as it is a mix of them all combined.

What is the hardest boxing style?

The hardest boxing style for one person will be different from another due to the fact a style will feel natural. For example, a heavyweight boxer that doesn’t have quick feet will find the swarmer style hard as they fit the slugger (brawler) style instead.

This also applies to the others as a swarmer with short reach won’t be able to fight as an out-boxer. If you have the power, then the boxer-puncher will be easier for you, but you’ll still have to learn the other styles to be complete.

Many would argue that the swarmer is the hardest as it requires the most energy out of them all.

What are the two boxing stances?

The two traditional boxing stances are orthodox and southpaw. Orthodox boxers lead with their left foot and hand forward as their stronger hand is the right.

Southpaw boxers are the opposite, leading with the right foot and hand to throw harder punches with their strong left hand.

Do boxers switch stances?

Some boxers do switch stances as it can be confusing for an opponent during a fight. Marvin Hagler was a right-handed orthodox boxer who could switch to a southpaw stance.

Oscar De La Hoya could also switch from orthodox stance to southpaw as he was naturally left-handed, but learned to box at five as an orthodox stance.

Is southpaw an advantage?

Southpaw boxers have an advantage as there are many more orthodox boxers than southpaw. This means that they have more practice against their opponent than an orthodox fighter has against a southpaw.

If there isn’t a southpaw boxer in your gym, then you might have never fought with a southpaw boxer. You can learn their movements from videos, but it’s very different from facing them in the ring.

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