The boxing world is made up of so many different things, but there is nothing quite as exciting as a magnificent knockout punch. Whether you are a spectator of the sport or a boxer on any level, a points-win will never deliver the same level of devastating satisfaction as a knockout punch. (unless you are on the receiving end, read up on our defensive skill articles to avoid!)
This article is going to teach you how to throw a knockout punch so you can become an even better boxer.
Let’s get right into it.
What’s it all about?
The first obstacle a boxer needs to master is being able to generate enough power, the two most common types of knockout punches you will see are the right cross or a left hook.
Straight right punches have a good chance too but they don’t generate as much force nor are they likely to turn a person’s head. Uppercuts can land a powerful KO but this is not suited to every style of a boxer and require a lot more skill to successfully deliver one.
Enough with the chit-chat?
First off let’s have a look at how to adjust your stance, we all know true punching power is down to so much more than your arm strength or your fists. We must hone our skills in every area and piece them all together.
Stance Is So Important – The Middle
You need to start from the feet up like with most techniques in boxing, your footing, footwork and how you move is an integral part of executing a knock-out punch. Being able to shift weight from one foot to another at the right moment will allow you to keep a strong advantage in the fight.
The beauty of this is you can train to improve your footwork wherever you are. When your footing is in the middle position, this involves slightly more weight being distributed on the front leg than the back leg. The weight shift is only ever marginal and it this allows for an easier transition when moving from foot to foot.
Most punches are easy to connect in the middle position.
Don’t let the name ‘proper stance’ fool you into thinking that any other stance is improper! With your front foot angled at 15 degrees, it should be flat against the ground. From this point in the technique, your back foot should be angled at around 45 degrees with your heel lifted slightly off the ground.
Your dukes should be up enough to cover your chin but no so high that you can’t see your opponent or their attacks. Have your elbows down and shoulders relaxed with your palms facing you.
The left hand should be between 6-12 inches in front of your chin and your right hand acts as the guard of your cheekbone.
All in the hips baby
After choosing and mastering the right stance, the rotation of your hips, feet and torso are all parts that then need integrating for a knockout punch. We mentioned the best punches earlier that will help you throw a knockout punch, now let’s have a look at how to move your body to match the style of each of them and generate the most power.
Throwing a right cross
Now let’s discuss the right cross, this is a go-to punch for a lot of beginners, its reliable in many ways and doesn’t require a great deal of skill compared to other punches.
When you throw a right cross, your front foot should be flat on the ground while pivoting the back foot at a 45-degree angle. Remember to keep your weight on the back foot too. When the back foot pivots, your hips are going to rotate somewhat with your torso rotating slightly more.
At this point, you need to use your body weight to keep your right leg cemented into the ground. (If you straighten your leg at this point, you’re going to lose power and balance.)
The left hook
Throwing a left hook correctly can generate a lot of power if you know how. To throw a left hook correctly, keep your right heel flat on the ground, pivoting your left foot. Remember that a strong punch never comes from somebody who throws a lot of hands, unless you have an incredible amount of stamina.
BE efficient in this move and practise swinging from the arms and not your torso, most of the force is usually generated in the hips and torso, but not when it comes to throwing an effective left hook.
A left hook should be punching through a target and not at a target, come across with your elbow and make sure you are following through. The left hook is a very dangerous move in close quarters when done correctly.
Let’s Discuss Elbow Movement
A lot of coaches won’t even discuss what to do with your elbows, but we like to give you information that you can piece together to create a holistic approach as a fighter.
Your elbow is the hinge of your arm and what you do with it is just as important as anything else when learning how to throw a knockout punch.
The Right Cross – elbow movement
When throwing a right cross, aim at your target and extend the right elbow as you propel the arm forward. There should be more curve as you coil your arm for the punch and then as you push the arm forward, the elbow joint will extend as your arm straightens.
If you extend your elbow too soon, you leave yourself less chance of generating enough power for a knockout blow. Timing the curve and extension from the elbow can facilitate more triceps and give you a stronger punch.
The Left hook – elbow movement
To properly engage a left hook on your opponent, you should swing the left elbow across your body to make sure you are following through. Your elbow needs to stay quite high, if you keep it low when left hooking then you are robbing yourself of power and leverage.
Practise your technique and focus on developing a twist in your torso that is perfectly synchronized with the swinging elbow. This should be an explosive move that is delivered fast and unpredictably.
Keep your body relaxed as this reserves energy throughout the fight, your hands should be relaxed also when you aren’t throwing punches or at the start of a punch. Exhale when you throw a punch, this helps your muscles, blood flow and stability all become synergistic to boost your chances of a knockout blow.
We will go into the breathing techniques in more detail in other articles.
If you’re after a bit of inspiration, here’s the 20 most BRUTAL knockouts!
The Most Effective Body Parts To Punch
Head, skull, the bonce etc
The jaw- This is where most people are susceptible to a knockout punch for several reasons. It is the furthest point from the neck, giving it more leverage and it also protrudes almost asking to be bopped.
The jaw bone is quite fragile and is easy to damage or turn a person’s head. If you land a solid punch on somebody’s jaw then you will probably knock them out or at least make them punch-drunk and wobbly! Use the cross or hook punch when aiming for your opponent’s jaw.
Behind the ears
People can’t usually see this one coming, it’s a vulnerable area and is as close to the back of the head you can punch without being penalized. There are a lot of vital nerves in this area of the skull that keeps the body in balance. The back of the skull has less dense bone for protection too.
Boxers who throw a solid, wide hook will be well suited at aiming for this area. You can also counterpunch this area when an over-aggressive puncher loses their balance from swinging haphazardly.
The temple is a vulnerable area right at the front, top part of the skull. The bone is less dense on this part of the skull. Connecting a punch on somebody’s temple can make your opponent disorientated and dizzy. Some fighters have great chins and you can’t always do your homework to find out beforehand.
Your opponent is less likely to have a durable temple than chin. Most boxers are also trained to keep their boxing gloves low to guard the chin and so they don’t cover their vision.
The Solar Plexus
Connecting a solid punch to the solar plexus can be very painful for your opponent, it can leave them winded and send them straight to the floor. Nobody can really practise taking a punch here nor can a person learn how to avoid being winded if the punch connects.
The downside here is that it’s not easy to target, the best chance you have of connecting here is with a precision counter punch just as your opponent throws his right hand at you.
The ribs are vulnerable and prone to breaking, they cover a large surface area too so there is a lot of potential to cause a knockout punch here!
How Should You Train for a Knockout Punch?
As we all mention at BoxingReady.com, every aspect of your training should be brought together to hone you into the best fighter possible. Being good at one thing is not enough as a boxer, you need to have it all put together.
Styles make fights and skills make winners. Your overall physical condition is going to be critical in throwing a knockout punch, this then has to be combined with precision and technique. Then when you have started to master these things, you can start learning how to throw from different angles.
Why are timing and angles so important?
Timing is everything in defence and offence, a perfect boxer must block, counter and land KO punches at will, without perfect timing this will never happen.
You will have the best chance of KOing your opponent just as they put all of their energy into throwing a punch at you. Combining the momentum of your opponent thrusting all of their power towards you with you doing the same will give you the best chance of creating a knockout blow.
Remember it’s not all about how hard you hit but when you hit that does the damage- strictly speaking of knockout blows.
When it comes to angles, aim to land when your opponent is twisting or turning in toward your punch. Again, this creates more power overall when both opponents are applying force and power into their movement.
Connecting at the right angle gives your punches more leverage and helps you use the momentum against your opponent.
Here’s a great timing drill you should give a go.
Remember that all of these things you are learning today can also be used against you!
Sparring can be a safe way to practice all of the techniques and punches we have mentioned in this article. You can develop skills in the most realistic scenarios when sparring and it allows one to become accustomed to throwing punches.
No practice will ever beat the real thing. You can even record the fight and watch it back, or have your coach watch to gain feedback on your strengths and weak points.
When you do build up the confidence to start throwing knockout punches when you land the first one successfully you will feel like a true champion. Don’t try and become a one punch wonder who only has your sights set on one outcome in a boxing match though as this will make your movement and strategies very predictable.