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When it comes to boxing, the first then that pretty much everyone learns to do is get in their stance. Your stance is the foundation of literally anything and everything that you could do in boxing. From your footwork to your head movement to the punches that have made the sport famous, it all couldn’t happen if the stance isn’t proper.  

What this article covers

That being said if you are new to boxing you might wonder what kind of stance you should take. When you walk into a gym or when you watch a sport on tv you will likely see a variety of stances that fighters take but something you will notice a lot of them have in common is which hand and foot they put into their lead. 

Most fighters, whether it's on TV or at your local gym, will be standing in an orthodox boxing stance, where they have their left hand and foot in the lead with their right hand and foot in the rear. This is done because most people are right-handed and general boxing wisdom says that you should put your dominant hand in the rear so that it can maximize the amount of power you have in your big strikes.

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southpaw stance boxing

However you might be wondering, especially if you’re left-handed, what should left-handed fighters do when it comes to their stance. Well if you are left handed your trainer will likely tell you to follow that same rule that was mentioned earlier, but this means that your left hand will be in the rear, as opposed to in the lead like with most people. 

This is called being in a southpaw boxing stance and we’re going to explain the ins and outs of it to you right now.

What is a Southpaw Boxing Stance

A Southpaw boxing stance is a stance commonly used by left-handed boxers. In this stance, the boxer's right foot is in front of their left foot, and their right hand is their lead hand. This is opposite to the more traditional orthodox boxing stance, where the left foot is in front and the left hand is the lead hand. 

The Southpaw stance can be advantageous for left-handed boxers as it can make it more difficult for their opponent to predict and defend against their punches. This is due to most people training for and competing against orthodox fighters, meaning that if they ever fight a southpaw, they can be thrown off their game. This helps add to the idea of a “southpaw advantage” which we will get into later. 

However, it can also present some challenges, as many boxing techniques and training methods are geared towards the Orthodox stance. Trainers might also not want to work on fighters from a southpaw stance if they aren’t used to it. Famously this lead to Marvelous Marvin Hagler training from an orthodox stance for his amateur career despite being left-handed, as people did not want to fight a southpaw. 

Southpaws can also suffer when they fight other southpaws or fighters that utilize switch stance boxing, as they are most likely not used to fighting against an opponent with the same stance. 

Why is it called a Southpaw Boxing Stance

When it comes to the name southpaw for this stance it gets a bit murky. The name orthodox stance makes enough sense since most fighters take it but southpaw is a bit of a strange name for a boxing stance. The term "Southpaw" originated in baseball, where it was used to describe left-handed pitchers. The term was then adopted in boxing to describe left-handed fighters who used a stance with their right foot forward. 

The exact origins of the term "Southpaw" are not clear, but there are several theories. One theory is that it comes from the way baseball diamonds are oriented, with home plate facing east, so a left-handed pitcher would face south. Another theory is that it comes from early baseball stadiums, where the pitcher's mound was often located on the south side of the field. Regardless of its origins, the term "Southpaw" has been used in boxing for many years and is now a common term used to describe left-handed boxers and their stance.

Offense From a Southpaw Boxing Stance

If you are a southpaw it can be tricky to know what to do when it comes to being offensive against an opponent, whether it's in sparring or in actual competition. This is especially the case if your coach isn’t well-versed in southpaw striking tactics.

Fighting from a southpaw stance might seem like a small difference but it has a drastic effect on the dynamic of a fight and what techniques are more viable. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a southpaw boxing, MMa boxing or orthodox boxing, most of your opponents will stand in an orthodox stance. 

However, if you stand in a southpaw stance against an orthodox fighter this means that you are in what is called an open stance scenario, which means that you have opposite limbs in the lead. A closed stance scenario is the opposite, which means both fighters have the same hand and leg forward, whether it's right or left. 

Since southpaws will like be fighting orthodox fighters more often than not, we will focus on tactics from an open stance scenario for southpaw boxers to use. 

The first offense tip is to gain what is generally called outside foot position. Since you are in an open stance match-up, you and your opponent's lead feet will basically be right in front of each other. This means that if you are able to get your lead foot to the outside of theirs, away from their body, you will be in perfect alignment for power straights with your rear hand.

On that same note, since you are in an open stance fight, your jab is not lined up as well as it is in a closed stance one. Southpaws might find that for the most part you will be pawing at or jabbing your opponent's glove more than their face. 

When it comes to your straight left it will be your power punch in a Southpaw stance. Aim for your opponent's chin or body with a quick, straight left. This punch can be particularly effective if you catch your opponent moving in the wrong direction, for example, if they are moving to the inside foot position or if you take the outside. 

The same goes for your rear left hook. The left hook can be another effective punch from a Southpaw stance. Use it to attack your opponent's head or body, and be sure to pivot on your rear foot to generate more power.

On the literal other hand your lead right hook can also be very dangerous. You can use this punch as a straight forward weapon or use it to set up other shots like your rear straight. You can also turn this punch into a check hook and pivot while lifting your rear foot to a new angle on your opponent. 

From southpaw the lead check hook is especially effective because instead of being put into an inside angle where your opponent has some options, because you are in an open stance match, you will be on the outside where both your opponents offensive and defensive options are extremely limited. 

Feints can be a useful tool in a Southpaw stance. Use your footwork and head movement to create openings, and then feint with your jab or other punches to draw your opponent into a trap.

All this comes together to make southpaws very well-predisposed to being strong counter fighters so you can bait your opponent in then land power shots and exit safely. 

Defense from a Southpaw Boxing Stance

When it comes to defense from a southpaw stance the first thing that we are going to need to talk about is foot position again. Just like with offense, having the dominant outside foot position is important so that you are away from your opponent's power shots. This also goes hand and hand with proper footwork. Having your foot on the outside will also allow you to safely pivot away from your opponent to avoid damage. 

Counterpunching can also be a method of defense as well as offense, because if you counter your opponent's attacks regularly, they will be scared to throw in the first place. Wait for your opponent to throw a punch, then quickly respond with a counterpunch of your own. A good counterpunch can disrupt your opponent's rhythm and leave them open for further attacks.

Utilizing head movement is also a good idea as a southpaw boxer. Whether you are a southpaw or you’re fighting one, you likely have an idea of the main punches they will throw, mainly being a lead hook and a rear straight, this makes choosing the right type of head movement to use much easier. 

Use your head movement to slip punches and create openings for your own attacks. Be careful not to move straight back, as this can leave you vulnerable to your opponent's power punches and also put your back on the ropes or even worse, into a corner.

What Is the Southpaw Advantage 

Now if you are in combat sports you might have heard the term Southpaw Advantage. There are many reasons that this term exists and we are going to go over just a few. 

The first is the unfamiliarity factor. Most boxers are trained to fight against right-handed opponents in the Orthodox stance, so a Southpaw stance can be unfamiliar and challenging for them to deal with. Left-handed boxers using a Southpaw stance may be able to catch their opponents off guard, making it harder for them to predict and defend against their punches.

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southpaw stance boxing stance

The angle of attack also changes when you are a southpaw or if you’re fighting one. Southpaw stance can create a different angle of attack than the Orthodox stance. With their right hand forward, left-handed boxers can throw jabs and straight lefts from different angles, making it more difficult for their opponents to defend against.

Southpaw boxers can also have a defensive advantage. With their lead hand forward, they can use it to parry or block their opponent's jabs and other punches. Additionally, their lead foot is typically closer to their opponent's lead foot, making it easier to pivot and move out of the way of their opponent's power punches.

Finally and maybe most importantly, a Southpaw stance can provide a psychological advantage for left-handed boxers. By using a stance that is less common, left-handed boxers may be able to create a sense of uncertainty and doubt in their opponents, which can affect their confidence and performance in the ring.

Famous Southpaw Boxers and MMA Fighters 

Some notable examples of famous southpaw boxers include:

  • Manny Pacquiao: Pacquiao is a former eight-division world champion and is widely regarded as one of the best boxers of his era. He is a Southpaw fighter who is known for his speed, footwork, and powerful left hand.
  • Vasyl Lomachenko: Lomachenko is a Ukrainian boxer who has won world titles in three weight classes. He is a highly skilled Southpaw fighter who is known for his footwork, hand speed, and technical proficiency.
  • Conor McGregor: McGregor is a former UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) two-division world champion and is widely regarded as one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. He is a skilled Southpaw striker with powerful left-hand strikes.
  • Anderson Silva: Silva is a former UFC middleweight champion and one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. He is a Southpaw striker who is known for his precision striking and fluid movements.

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