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Finding The Openings Up Close With Teddy Atlas

Finding The Openings Up Close With Teddy Atlas


Inside fighting - The close range in boxing, also called the “Pocket,” is seen by many as a 50/50 position, as both boxers are in fire range and anticipation of punches becomes challenging due to the short distance punches has to go through. The Pocket also creates one of the most exciting positions where action must occur, but it’s also one of the riskiest places to stay if you don’t know what you are doing.

Switching between the defensive and offensive cycle is crucial for success inside the pocket; having the ability to switch from defense to offense creates inside fighting an art and not just a brawl. We have two main ways to do it: 

  1. creating an angle - using some kind of bump to the side, breaking the defensive cycle, and becoming offensive.
  2. Reactive counters - defending a strike and immediately reacting with our punches.

Who is usually successful in close range? This question can have many answers; some will say it depends on body types (short), and others will say it depends on skill. The most significant factor influencing the success in the pocket is the understanding of the principle of offensive and defensive cycle - this way, we can systematically turn a 50/50 situation into a chess game where the better fighter wins and not the luckier.

Some examples of successful inside fighters are Mike Tyson - which dominated the competition as a very “small” fighter to the weight class, Henry Armstrong - who bullied all the big guys and was a 3 division champion, and we have Evander Holyfield which wasn’t a short fighter and still was very successful in the pocket even beating the great mike Tyson.

Who Is Teddy Atlas 

Teddy Atlas is a very well known coach in the world of boxing, and he has trained 18 different world champions with one of them being the legendary Mike Tyson back in the day; the remarkable thing about teddy is his deep relationship with fear as Teddy believes the core of boxing as a sport is the idea of winning against yourself. Teddy has been commentating on the last 4 Olympic games and is now working as a commentator with ESPN.

Finding The Openings


Teddy starts by explaining that “catch and pitch” is a method of fighting on the inside; Teddy then compares the technique to baseball to understand the concept, where you catch the ball and throw it back, simple.

The catch and pitch method will always find us an opening to “throw back”, as all punches the opponent will throw at us requires him to move his hands from his face to our face where we can block(catch) and throw back (pitch).

When we are on the inside, and the opponent throws a ”left hook,” for example, we catch/block the shot and return fire where the opening has been created; in the case of a left hook, we will block with our right hand and immediately throw a right hand back at him where he opened himself with the hook.

 On the inside, Teddy has some rules for us to keep:

  • high defense (hands)
  • shorter punches 
  • awareness and calmness

A great drill you can do to develop the catch and pitch is simply having a coach with mitts hit you on either side to the body or head, so you block the shot, return a combination finding the opening with the first shot, and going out of the way before he returns fire.

Another thing to keep in mind is moving our head out of the way after finishing a combination; Teddy calls this “entering the fox hole” as the opponent will probably return fire. We should move our heads and stay safe. In the next video, we can see Teddy explaining how to enter the fox hole and keep ourselves safe.



Technique Wrap Up

  1. catch the punch
  2. return fire to the opening created
  3. entering the fox hole for safety/ moving the head

Learn More From Teddy Atlas 

Trench Warfare by Teddy Atlas

Suppose you like the catch and pitch method shown here from Teddy Atlas and want to learn more from the legend himself. You can watch the entire series going deep about inside fighting and taking your game to the next level. “TRENCH WARFARE  by Teddy Atlas” available exclusively on Dynamic Striking.