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Why You Need To Know How To Set Traps According To Teddy Atlas

Why You Need To Know How To Set Traps According To Teddy Atlas

Having the ability to set traps while in the ring or in the octagon can dramatically change the outcome of a fight. Take for example George Foreman against heavyweight champion Michael Moorer in 1994. Foreman was 45 years old at the time and down in the scorecards by the start of the tenth round. It was going to take a knockout for Foreman to redeem himself after losing his belt to Muhammad Ali during the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” in Zaire. 


A good body shot and a few well-placed combinations started to turn the fight in Foreman’s favor and the old champ saw his chance to set the trap against Moorer. Foreman started using a throwaway jab or right to get Moorer to move his head in the opposite direction. By the last 1:10 of Round 10, Moorer lay flat on his back due to getting clipped with a hard right from Foreman moments after being set up with a short left. Setting the proper trap made Foreman a heavyweight champion again. 


World renowned boxing trainer Teddy Atlas discusses how to set the trap and get that knockout punch. (Fun Fact: Atlas was Moorer’s trainer during the Foreman fight and has said in previous interviews he warned Moorer to keep his distance from the older fighter once he saw what Foreman’s game plan was during the eighth and ninth rounds). 

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Setting The Trap

Setting the trap can come in many different forms, but the most basic way to set up the other fighter is to throw a jab and step back which should invite the other fighter to step in and commit to throwing a straight right. When they do, they’ll probably miss and this is your chance to counter while the other fighter is open. 


“Set a trap, but there is no cheese over here for the traps...just punches,” Atlas said. “The way the top guys do it is you put a lure and you temp the fish to jump on. You give them a little reason to jump on.”


Keep Calm

The legendary trainer likens properly setting the trap to setting bait while fishing—”you’re not throwing dynamite in the water to catch fish,” said Atlas. Rather, patience and calmness are your friends even if time isn’t on your side, advises the trainer. 


“The calmer you are the more you can see. When you’re calm you can see in a place that before was unseeable,”  Atlas said. “To be calm in an uncalm place where punches are thrown at you. That is what you’re striving for.” 


To keep your cool under pressure, Atlas suggests practicing setting traps with a partner or trying to envision yourself performing the move while shadowboxing. The trainer said a boxer should be at a level where they can anticipate what their opponent’s next move is and how to throw their counter punch(s). 


“It’s like things slow down...almost like you’re outside watching yourself saying ‘hey, do this, do that,’” Atlas said. “You’re watching yourself perform. That’s what it’s about.”

The Fundamentals of Boxing by Teddy Atlas
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