Boxing Defences

All of the following defensive moves are described from the hypothetical position of defending against a right-handed fighter in an orthodox stance.

The Bob and Weave

To bob and weave successfully, you should move your head from side to side and up and down, keeping your body in a constant state of motion. Always be creative with your movement so that your opponent does not guess where your head is going to be. You should be able to bob and weave at all times during a boxing match, whether you are moving forwards, backwards, or throwing a punch. Your movements should intensify as you move closer to your opponent.

Lay Back

Some boxers choose to ‘lay back’ in a fight and wait for their opponent to make the first move. The trick behind this defensive move is the subsequent element of surprise. As the opponent moves forward and prepares to strike, spring forward and into action, punching him when he least expects it. In this attacking situation, it is best to keep your punches short and sharp.

The Block

This defensive move is fairly simple. As the powerful right hand of your opponent is extended in a punch, turn your upper body to the right slightly, so that his punch hits your upper arm. Keep your fists raised and your elbows tucked in tightly to your ribs as you move your torso. This move will also provide you with the opportunity to counter-attack. After you have twisted your body to the right and successfully blocked the punch, twist your body back quickly and punch your opponent with your right hand. The most effective punches to employ in such situations are the upper cut or a straight long-range right handed strike.

As a general rule, punches aimed towards your head should be blocked with your glove. Punches aimed towards your body should be blocked with your arm, as described above, or with your elbow. This second defensive move is known as an ‘elbow block’.


In a long range parry, you will catch the right hand of your opponent in your left hand. After you have caught their right hand, push it aside and bring your fists back up to their original position. If your parry is successful, the opponent’s arm should end up in a horizontal position, with the shoulder in line with the elbow and the fist. As the name suggests, this type of parry should be used from long range. This type of defensive move can provide a good opportunity for a counter-attack, due to the inherent element of surprise. As the opponent briefly loses his balance after being pushed aside, you will be provided with the perfect opportunity to jab him with any one of a variety of strikes. Furthermore, after a parry, the opponent may leave his face vulnerable, so your chances of knocking him out will be greater.

The Slip

The most important element of a slip is close and constant observation. By keeping a close eye on your opponent’s punching patterns, you will gradually be able to predict when and where he is going to strike you. As your opponent throws a punch, move out of the way. However, ensure that this movement is only just enough to enable you to dodge the strike. If you dodge too far or not far enough, the move will not be as effective and you will be left vulnerable to various attacking strikes. Roberto Duran, a typical old school fighter, had an extremely effective slip but his opponents would always miss by the narrowest of margins. Never return your head to its original position after this movement, since this can lead to a knockout. Instead, change the positioning of your feet to match the new position of your head. When you employ the slip, never move in such a way that throws you off balance.


This move will prevent punches from an opponent or, at the very least, reduce their power and effectiveness. The move is very simple. As the opponent moves towards you and prepares to strike, grasp their whole body with one or both arms. Boxers often choose to use clinching towards the end of a fight, when their energy levels are low. Alternatively, if you have been stunned by the attacking prowess of your opponent, clinching can buy you some time to regroup and consider your next move.