These Highly Effective Boxing Styles Have Been Tested by Champions

The sport of boxing is a beautiful game of cat and mouse.  Just like the game of chess, players make tactical movements in advance of the final blow. Boxers have established various boxing styles and strategies throughout history as they aimed to conquer the ring. Setting traps and exploiting weaknesses in the opponent’s movements are just some of the tactics employed by practitioners of the sweet science. 

There are many different ways athletes in the sport of boxing can execute their strategies, each with its own pros and cons.  In this article, we will dive into a few different boxing styles, how to do them, and who did them best.

1. Mike Tyson’s Peek-a-boo

Without a doubt, ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson is one of the scariest boxers to enter the ring. Sure, he’s a ferocious puncher in the ring, but there’s much more to his reputation than brute force. Mike Tyson is a tactical master and a psychological menace. Simply put, he is an extremely knowledgeable student of the game.

He was on the shorter side of the Heavyweight division, with his height maxing out at 1.78m. This didn’t stop him from developing one of the most aggressive and effective styles in boxing. Known as the Peek-a-Boo, this boxing style is beneficial to boxers with a shorter reach. It relies on the fighter being in double-guard with only the top half of the head exposed (hence the name).

Mike Tyson's Peek-a-boo is one of the most iconic boxing styles. It covering the lower half of the face with the hands for a solid defense.

The Peek-a-boo can also be useful in defensive situations as one of the better boxing guard styles. This is because the shorter boxer usually doesn’t have the luxury of working behind their jab. The beauty of this style lies in the head movement. Slipping the head left and right makes their dome a moving target. At the same time, the boxer can use their feet to close the distance between them and the opponent. 

Once the opponent comes within punching range, the left-and-right movement becomes the engine for the offence. It carries the momentum of the puncher’s body weight, amplifying the power of their hooks. Boxers do this by shifting their weight from one side, through the punch, through the target, and back to their other side.

The Mike Tyson boxing style can be an effective weapon on offence. The downside is it can leave the puncher vulnerable if poorly executed. To overcome the range disparity, the boxer using the Peek-a-Boo has to mind their P’s and Q’s while closing the distance. 

An educated jab and a keen eye from an astute opponent can frustrate the user of the Peek-a-Boo. This is especially true if the pattern of the head movement becomes predictable. How do we avoid this? Well, mixing in punches while slipping the head left to right is an excellent way to occupy the opponent’s hands. It ensures that they’re playing defence more often than they are throwing jabs to the face.

2. Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s The Philly Shell

Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather Jr. is known for two things. One, his elite boxing acumen inside the boxing ring, and two, his flamboyant antics outside of it. Because of these, he quickly gained a reputation of being one of the best defensive boxers of the modern era, 

Before Floyd was ‘Money’, he was ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd, thanks to his ability to come away from each fight with a clean face. Mayweather had impeccable discipline when it came to his defensive responsibilities. He never had any cuts or bruises to take home after his matches.

Perhaps that’s just how effective his signature boxing style was. The Philly Shell involved using his gloves, forearms, and shoulder to protect the head and body. At the same time, he contorted his upper body, switching his body signature while under fire. Punches rarely ever connected at full clip, though gloves grazed and slipped without damage. It is the perfect representation of his impenetrable defence and the cause of frustration for many of Floyd’s opponents.

Floyd Mayweather has one of the most distinctive boxing styles. In this image, he leans back with a shoulder and a hand up to protect the head.

Floyd’s security in his defence brought another advantage: efficiency and quick reactivity. His comfort meant he could keep his eyes on his opponent with a relaxed sort of awareness. He conserved his energy but counterstruck in the smallest gaps to exploit weaknesses. 

As one of the better boxing defence styles, using the Philly Shell means absorbing a lot of hits. The arms and body absorb many of these, but a rather big part goes to the shoulder that protects the head. 

This condition opens up opportunities to exploit one of the best defensive styles of boxing. 

Marcos Maidana gets what strategy he can use to deal with the Philly Shell. He demonstrated it in his two classic fights against Floyd Mayweather. In their matches, he relentlessly attacked Floyd’s shoulder. That was an attempt to break the barrier between his glove and Floyd’s face.

This strategy would have been successful against anyone using the Philly Shell. Except, of course, if that ‘anyone’ is Floyd Mayweather.

3. Muhammad Ali’s Out Fighter

Considered by many as ‘The Greatest’, Muhammad Ali ushered in a whole new era of boxing. The contrast of his brash talking outside the ring with his elegant boxing style in it fascinated fans around the world. Sure enough, this icon’s name became synonymous with the sport. 

Dance-like footwork, blistering hand speed, and his elusive head movement. Muhammad Ali took the classic ‘Out Fighter’ style and cranked it up to the next level with these qualities.

The fundamentals play a critical role in this classic style. Swift straight punches are extended to keep the opponent at bay. With the jab as the key weapon, the Out Fighter capitalises on their (usually) longer reach. 

Another one of the popular boxing styles is Muhammad Ali's, where he uses his long reach to his advantage.

The jab works to set up the cross and score points from a distance. At the same time, defensive footwork keeps the user out of the opponent’s range. Keeping the jab between the Out Fighter and their opponent creates distance. It minimises damage the user absorbs. Done correctly, this strategy gets the user to win round after round on the scorecards.

As effective as this style may be, however, it is not invulnerable. An aggressive fighter with good head movement can put the Out Fighter in a tough spot. Forward-moving punches can cut off the ring and put the Out Fighter on the ropes. From there, punches to the body can slow them down. Scoring opportunities eventually open upstairs.

4. Roy Jones Jr.’s Boxer-Puncher

When it comes to combining boxing skills with pure athletic ability, one name rises above the rest. Roy Jones Jr. is the owner of some of the most spectacular knockouts. He has a considerable collection of belts and highlight reels from middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight. 

Roy Jones Jr. mastered the technical skills used by the Out Fighter, but he branched out to create his own style. Boxer-Puncher infuses this classic boxing style with dynamic flashes of athletic brilliance. Fight-ending punches are this style’s signature. 

His signature leaping left hook is only one of his many unorthodox punches. When it calls for it, he always fell back on a solid base of fundamentals. This serves as a reminder to his opponents that his point-scoring abilities are always available to him.

With 47 KO’s out of 66 wins, however, he proved that he’d rather end the night early than leave it in the hands of the judges.

Combating this style hasn’t been easy for Roy Jones Jr.’s opponents. There are a few who succeeded, though. They did this by keeping their heads on straight despite Jones’ dynamic strikes. 

Weathering the storm is key for defeating the aggressive style of Boxer-Puncher. Use the fundamentals and a solid defence to take the fight into the later rounds, and athletic ability becomes less of a factor. The Boxer-Puncher’s explosive power will eventually subside. At that point, the game becomes a chess match of basic punches and strategies to outpace them to victory.