Elements Of Great Boxing: Timing With Teddy Atlas
At the highest levels, boxing is an intricate interplay between the tactics and strategies of two finely trained combatants. Fighters must be schooled in the complexities of moving their feet, throwing punches, and defending punches. Beyond knowledge of these basic components, elite boxers are able to interweave disparate elements so that each constituent works simultaneously. They are able to be mobile, offensive, and defensive all at the same time. To see this at work, watch Gennady Golovkin jab. He is a versatile jabber and displays the concept in many ways, but a quintessential example is when he steps in from range, rams his opponent with his jab, and simultaneously parries their return.
Great boxing is much more than just integration of offense and defense. Principles such as timing, distance, and rhythm are essential. These principles only become apparent when boxers are paired with one another. It is difficult to practice picking up distance on the pads and impossible to develop a sense of timing on the bag. Skills such as these can only be developed with live training and competition.
Let’s imagine that we have a fighter who has invested countless hours developing skills that allow them to pick up on timing and have a keen sense of range. In sparring, they can leverage these skills to land blows while remaining defensively sound. This does not guarantee they will replicate this ability on fight night. Performing under the bright lights requires yet another set of attributes Confidence and composure.
Anderson Silva is exemplary in this regard. Consider the famous picture of Anderson Silva, straight-faced, standing centimeters outside of Forrest Griffin’s outstretched arm. Silva exhibits masterful composure, as evidenced by his nonplussed face. Composure on this level can only be had if the fighter has complete confidence in their ability to suss out their opponents range. Counterstrikers lean on their composure to remain calm and poised as opponents throw at them. Remaining poised allows them to see the openings and react quickly enough to capitalize. Silva made a hall-of-fame career out of this strategy.
In the video below, Teddy Atlas shows a technique that fits within this mold.
How To Ride The Rails
In the video, Teddy breaks down a method of countering a jab. From the start, Teddy harps on the importance of distance and timing. These concepts create the context in which you can safely throw this punch. As timing goes, Teddy references rhythm. Rhythm is essentially a pattern a fighter establishes. For example, a fighter might fall into a rhythm of shuffling twice, lowering their stance, and firing their jab. Detecting the rhythm allows you to time the counter.
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For distance, Teddy discusses two ways of getting into the proper range. In the first scenario, the opponent essentially positions you for the counter by throwing their jab from too close. Again, we have the importance of a sense of range and the composure to detect a pattern. The second method requires you to use your feet and move into range. Here, Teddy explicitly describes the requisite tension between remaining calm and being vigilant.
The distance is right. You have their timing. Now we throw the punch. To ride the rails, we counter their jab by shooting the right straight just inside of their jab while simultaneously slipping your head outside of their rear shoulder. Great boxing always has defense embedded within the offense.
Any punch landed cleanly without a counter is a good punch. This punch comes with a bonus. Because the opponent is caught in the midst of their jab, they cannot see the blow before it lands. As the saying goes “it’s the ones you don’t see that hurt you.” Hurting blows are often landed outside of your opponent’s awareness. In this case, our counter lands undetected because it disrupts their timing and comes in under the cover of their jab. Understanding this principle gives yet another reason to hardwire defensive sensibilities into your offense.
If you want to learn more ways to leverage timing to catch your opponent unawares, check out Teddy Atlas’ instructional “Timing: Boxing’s Shot Clock For Success” here!