The Science of Mike Tyson and Elements of Peek-A-Boo: part III

???Aggressive counter-punching in the peekaboo style of Cus D’Amato with examples by Mike Tyson.






1. Aggressive counter-punching ; 2. Head movements ;


Our poster The PPPP: Peek-a-boo Principles & Practices Poster (inspired by Mike Tyson) is available for print, download & modification at PosterMyWall! 8100 x 5400 px digital version is for 7.99 USD (basic price, we did not add any royalty) Lower resolution is for 2.99 USD, also you can download FREE A4 version I guess.

Peekaboo Principles & Practices Poster

Free! Basic Quality Download (Large Watermark);
2.99 USD Photo Quality Download (No Watermark, great for 8” x 12”);
7.99 USD Poster Quality Download (No Watermarks, 8100 x 5400 px,
great for A0 or 24” x 36”).

The PPPP (Peekaboo Principles & Practices Poster) offers you great artistic memo of all major Peekaboo techniques in one package, done after almost 5 years of researching from 2012 till now!.


Mike Tyson [MT1]:

“Even though Cus emphasized defense, he knew that defensive fighters could be boring.”

One of the reasons was purely money and business, since you gotta give the public what they never saw before:

Steven Lott [MT2]:

“Cus realized that the fighters who will earn the most money will be the fighters who are exciting – that means the ones who are aggressive and not the ones that run around the ring.”


back to top

Aggressive Counter-Punching

Mike expained his fighting style in very short way:

Mike Tyson [MT1]:

“Slip the punch and counter. Move and hit at the same time. Force the issue.”

We will follow his points with more detailed explanation.

Slip the punch and counter

Steven Lott [MT2]:

“In moving their head, it put them [D’Amato or peek-a-boo fighters] into position, to throw the punch back at the same time the other buy was punching.”

Steven Lott [MT2]:

“The effect of that is, when an opponent throws a punch, the D’Amato fighter slips it and counters while the opponent is still open.”

Below is an example of Mike Tyson slipping the overhead right and countering with an uppercut:

OPEN GFYCAT in a new window. OPEN GIF in a new window.

Move and hit at the same time

Do not be lead to believe it is all about slip & counter done one after another. They were present too, of course. However, the slip then counter might not fast enough because you wait for the opponent to commit and rely on your reflexes. Instead, Cus suggested something more efficient:

Cus D’Amato [CD1]:

“See, you give him a target here and by the time he swings, it ain’t there anymore. But when he moves, counter.”

This is not merely slip and counter like Floyd Mayweather or James Toney frequently do from the phillie shell.

TODO Mayweather and Toney clips

Force the issue

Mike Tyson [MT1]:

“He wanted me to be an aggressive counter-puncher, forcing my opponents to punch or run.”

Peekaboo is a way of baiting, when you give the opponent the false target or a hope for reaching the target:

TODO cite Atlas from What it takes…

Again, for instance, Mayweather is using a form of bait in his well known pull-counter:.

TODO Mayweather and Toney clips

He gives the opponent target, knowing they will attack with the jab. But Cus wanted the next step:

Mike Tyson [MT1]:

“Cus was always trying to manipulate the opponent in the ring.”


For a very simple reason:

Mike Tyson [MT1]:

“If you kept eluding their punches, they would get frustrated and lose their confidence. And then they were sunk.”

Steven Lott [MT2]:

“After that happens a few times, psychologically… the opponent says ‘What the hell is happening?… This hasn’t happened to me in the gym or in other fights before.’ Then suddenly, the opponent stops throwing punches. No one knows why, not the trainers nor the people watching the fight. ‘The opponent begins to think, ‘I can’t hit this guy… If I can’t hit him, then I can’t win.’ Psychologically, he throws in the towel. So, it’s more than just head and body movement. It’s psychological.”

This psycological aspect of fighting is common to all fighters, including D’Amato fighters. Cus D’Amato acknowledged the presence of this problem:

Cus D’Amato [CD1]:

“When the novice throws punches and nothing happens, and his opponent keeps coming at him… the new fighter becomes panicky. When he gets panicky he wants to quit, but he can’t quit because his whole psychology from the time he’s first been in the streets is to condemn a person who’s yellow. So what does he do? He gets tired. This is what happens to fighters in the ring. They get tired. This is what happens to fighters in the ring. They get tired, because they’re getting afraid….Now that he gets tired, people can’t call him yellow. He’s just too “tired” to go on.”

The peekaboo system or approach to fighting was designed to tackle this problem.

That is what separated Mike Tyson from every other fighter:

Steven Lott [MT2]:

” Mike was supremely confident of moving his head so he rarely concerned himself with the other guys punching power.”

back to top

Head Movements

Mike Tyson was very slick in moving head way from plane-of-fire of potential punch of the opponent, usually a right hand punch. We believe it is the technique to safely avoid the plane-of-fire of the opponent combined with the attack done simultaneous is the essense of what Cus D’Amato implied by “head movements”, not mere slipping after the last punch, which Mike Tyson and other peekaboo fighters did as well.

Kevin Rooney [KR2]:

“My work with Mike had made the phrase ‘Move your head’ common now. But, there is much more to it than someone just saying ‘Move your head.’ When I say ‘Move your head’, there’s a system. There’s a secret behind that. Cus was very secretive. He always wanted to keep things secret for his own fighters.”

The system

We are not ready to present actual system for head movements yet, but we can explore certain hints and statements from people involved and see where it leads us.

Let’s present the logic: who cares how powerfull and fast are punches if you are able to reposition the target before the hit? The power of a any punch missing the target is ZERO. Professionals develop punching power over YEARS by optimizing the technique. Previously we learnt that the punching power is tied closely to the direction of mass transfer = direction along which you set the body weight in explosive motion. In other words, if there is even small misalignment of the fist trajectory and the direction of the mass transfer, the punching power will suffer significantly.

We distinguish three types of head movements done primarily with legs, body and neck. This distinction is artificial and done only for the sake of simplification.

Leg movements

Below is an example of Mike Tyson display of head movements against a right hand by Micheal Spinks:

Mike Tyson display of head movements

OPEN GFYCAT in a new window. Watch on YouTube in a new window.

Need a proof? here is what Kevin Rooney said about this episode [KR3]:

Kevin Rooney [KR3]:

“Mike makes a little head movement to make him miss …”

Body movements

Below is an example of Mike Tyson slip & countering jab while stepping in by bending to the right, so called “split jab”:

OPEN GFYCAT in a new window. OPEN GIF in a new window.

TODO reference pacman

Neck movements

While the need of movements done with legs and body are somewhat obvious to achieve the shift of the target (head), there is another component that is overlooked quite often. It’s a crucial part of giving your opponent different looks so he can not read your next move. What counts are even just slight diplacements of the head done with the neck. Contrary to misconceptions from some online “experts” and “dogmatics” [1,3], who do not even bother checking their statements against “real data”:

Jack Slack [1]:

“When we say movement of the head, we actually mean movement of the trunk—or even, as Jeff Fenech would point out, movement of the hips. The head is not alone, and no movement is done with the neck because the neck much be ready to absorb shock at any time. Nobody can actually avoid getting hit altogether.”

, Mike Tyson was, in fact, was moving his head with the neck from one position to another to change head slots. This is really

Mike Tyson display of head movements

OPEN GFYCAT in a new window. Watch on YouTube in a new window.

The movements are also necessary due to the need to keep your opponent | target in eye-sight. These are somewhat contradictory requirement because if your chin is facing completely in the opposite direction to punches, the eye-sight would be perpendicular to the direction to the opponent, so you won’t be able to see him. This is why your either satisfy these both requirements partially at the same time or alternating between them.

As the above example suggests, Mike was choosing the chin protection in place of clear sight of the opponent all the time. Mike was hiding his chin at the peak of his attack. It is better to hit your opponent blindly while being safe rather than be at risk of a potential hit due to admiring your own punches.

Skull helmet

When facing your opponent frontal with chin down and lowered stance, he might hit you on forehead or frontal bone, but this is your protection helmet:

Bernard Hopkins [2]:

“This is my shield [the shoulder protecting the chin], my helmet [the forehead bone] – the opponent gonna break his hand on it. Even if he hits me here [on the forehead], I am not gonna voluntarily give it [the frontal bone] to him, but in case I would rather take the shot on the helmet, not jaw, because he might break his hand.”

If you throw a punch, in a certain moment you may sacrifice the eye-seeing of the opponent for the sake of better chin protection. At the edge of your attack, most of the opponents would prefer to block or evade your punch rather then throw their own.

back to top


All relevant References on Mike Tyson’s training and fighting, and the Peek-a-boo style by Cus D’Amato in one place.

1. Jack Slack. Mike Tyson: The Panic, The Slip, and The Counter (2015). FIGHTLAND BLOG.

2. Rashad Evans Meet Bernard Hopkins (2011). youtube

3. Brandon Krause head movement drills, EsNews Boxing (2013). youtube

Tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Science of Mike Tyson and Elements of Peek-A-Boo: part III

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *