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Working From The Inside And Delivering That “Fire In The Hole” Shot With Teddy Atlas

Working From The Inside And Delivering That “Fire In The Hole” Shot With Teddy Atlas

One of the best things an emerging fighter can do to improve their striking ability and move up to the next level is learning how to fight on the inside. More importantly, being able to stay calm and see those split-second opportunities to stun or KO your opponent while in the eye of the storm. 


A good example would be the recent super middleweight bout between Gabriel Rosado (26-13-1) against then-undefeated Bektemir ‘The Bully’ Melikuziev (7-1) on Saturday, June 19, 2021. Bek the Bully was favored to make short work of 35-year-old Rosado, who lost his previous match by split decision to Daniel Jacobs in November 2020. 


It was all going according to plan for The Bully in Round 1—Melikuziev had knocked Rosano down by the end of the round and the fighter took the eight count to recover. While Rosano got in some good shots during Round 2, it looked like he was no match for the young fighter from Uzbekistan. Round 3 seemed to be more of the same with Bek pressuring Rosado as the 35-year-old did his best for half the round. 


Then it happened—BANG. Rosado threw a well-placed short right from the inside, connecting with Bek’s chin and the Uzbek puncher fell face-first to the canvas. That one, well-placed shot gave Melikuziev his first loss and Rosado the WBA Continental Americas and vacant WBO International Super Middleweight titles. 


Legendary trainer Teddy Atlas recently spoke about the Rosado vs. Melikuziev match on his podcast, The Fight with Teddy Atlas (6/22/21):


“When you get handed opponents that you can take care of easily and you build a guys record up, you’re not doing them a favor. Because somewhere in the future they are going to have to fight someone like Rosado,” Atlas said on Episode 140 of his show. “They are going to have to fight a guy who maybe is not a hard hitter, maybe not as slick. But, he’s experienced, he’s hardened, he’s a fighter.” 


In this video, Atlas lays out the fundamentals for finding success while fighting on the inside just like the pros and how to spot those split-second opportunities to deliver that knockout shot. 

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Fighting On The Inside

When fighting close, Atlas said he always teaches his fighters these three simple rules: 


-Tighten up your defense 

-Shorten up your punches

-Be calm 


The trainer said he considers calmness in the current situation to be the most important of the three rules. Knowing how to fight on the inside gives a fighter a chance to spot those moments of vulnerability even the most seasoned veterans are prone to while expending less energy. 


Atlas said a problem many fighters face when fighting in close is they panic. Instead of tucking in and shortening their shots, they get anxious and pull back. The fighter thinks they are moving to safety but they move right into their opponent’s range to deliver a more powerful punch.


“A lot of people panic. Sometimes they’ll be in where they’re safe inside close...in the eye of the storm, I like to say...and they’ll pull into the danger because they panic. They jump right into it,” Atlas said. “The key is to shorten up the punches, tight defense and calm...calm in an uncalm place. Make it a calm place.” 

Fire In The Hole

Once you are fighting in close, shortening your punches and keeping your composure, Atlas advises looking for the holes—or vulnerabilities—made by your opponent. The trainer gives the example of the opponent pulling their arm too far back when throwing a punch. They present a quick vulnerability to that side of their head. Once you spot it, quickly throw a punch inside the hole, said Atlas. 


“Punch right inside that small corner, that small space that we might not have understood was available for us,” Atlas said. “We look for it, we find it and we’re calm enough to execute it.” 


Atlas also said the fire in the hole technique is a great defensive measure that can complement a fighter’s offensive striking game. Even the most well-seasoned veterans are susceptible to mistakes when fatigue sets in and less experienced fighters lose form as the rounds wear on. Staying calm, looking for the hole and firing that one shot could make all the difference in the world—just ask Gabriel Rosado. 

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Trench Warfare by Teddy Atlas
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