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We continue with the general description of defending and countering an uppercut techniques in the peek-a-boo. The study of this special case is an introduction to the attacking arsenal of Mike Tyson.
Ali vs Cus D’Amato
It does not take an expert to realize bobbing and weaving with head low are prone to hits with uppercuts . In fact, in 1970, Cus D’Amato and Muhammad Ali were discussing the tactics of fighting between Muhammad Ali (a taller boxer who stays his toe and can move and stick the jab) and Joe Fraizer (a shorter slugger who is ducking punchesand throwing wide hooks in return) .
Muhammad Ali :
This is what I would do with Joe Fraizer. Jab, jab, keep your distance, jab, and BAM [throws an uppercut].”
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Cus D’Amato bobs, side-bends, weaves, and then counters with a right hand punch. Ali objects that Joe Fraizer is not that good and he does not fight like that. Here we consider some examples how Mike Tyson would deal with such situation.
Feint & Side-Step
In amateurs, Mike got hit with uppercuts not only due to the imperfection of his defense. In the example below, Mike chooses incorrectly the moment and the position (or angle) to throw the jab to the body, and eats a right uppercut in return.
Left jab to the body seems to be a very safe offenise weapon. However, it might not be the case when you are not 100% fundamentally correct when throwing a left jab to the body. (We leave the description of the correct technique for further articles). An experienced opponent would time this jab and counter with the right uppercut:
Jack Dempsey :
“Most bobber-weavers become careless with their rhythm, and you can time their movements. You try to nail them with uppercuts as they sink into bobs…”
It is worth mentioning that Mike’s opponents in the above animations are demonstrating fairly well the heel thud principle for the right uppercut.
Technique 1: feint jab to the body
When fighting, it is very important not allowing the opponent to capitalize on his success. After the hit, Mike would feint the jab to the body by extending the left arm, bending knees and lowering the body and head to the right.
Meanwhile, he steps in not like in the jab: there is no hopping from the back to the front leg. Here, both legs are shifted forward, so the weight stays on the back leg, otherwise you won’t be able to execute the right hand punch.
The interesting moment here is how Mike moves the head with the incoming punch upwards for a little while. Then he quickly moves his head away from the line of fire of the uppercut by quickly bending to the left. At the same time, he throws a right hook, which trajectory is vertical due to strong body bend. In other words he throws an overhead right hand.
Notice that in the above animation, Mike Tyson as a pro performs his signature weaving after the last punch to follow one of the peek-a-boo commandements . He did not do it consistently in amateurs.
Technique 2: jab with a side-step
Now, if the opponent decides not to wait for Mike and then counter, but lead with the uppercut instead or throw it at the same time as Mike attacks. In this case, Mike throws jab with the side step to the left, which allows him to move his head away from the line of fire of the uppercut:
In the above example, Mike counters with the right hook unsuccessfully. He missed because the distance got too long after the side step. He should have thrown a leaping right hook. Notice, Mike moves his head in such away that the chin is facing almost backwards at some moment of his attack.
Technique 3: side hop | step
We learnt that Mike was either feinting the jab to the body or side-stepping. Now, there is a combined technique where Mike was able to side-step after a low jab feint:
The beginning of the technique coincides with the Technique 1: Mike feints the left jab with his weight remaining under the right leg. This allows him to hop from the right to the left leg. The hop or the side step moves him away from the line of fire of the uppercut. After the opponent misses with his uppercut, he is getting exposed to the straight left hand. By now, we have seen such technical element only once in all Mike Tyson’s fights (both amateur and pro). The somewhat similar side stepping technique can be found in early pro fights.
Pivot Step & Parry
In the example below, the opponent (boxer in red trunks) feints the left jab by touching Mike Tyson’s gloves and quickly snapping the arm back as if the gloves are hot as a frying pan. Then he twists the right hip inwards. As a result, the weight is transferred to the left leg. All these are accompanied by feinting the right hand punch. Note that for the real right hand punch one has to turn the right hip through the centerline . Now the opponent is in the perfect position to throw a left hand uppercut:
This is perfectly in-line with Jack Dempsey’s observations:
Jack Dempsey :
“Uppercuts are particularly effective at close quarters against an opponent capable of blocking your various hooks to body and head or capable of bobbing under your hooks to head… With practice, you’ll discover that you can feint an opponent into making any number of moves. You can feint him into slipping, so that he’ll be a target for a shovel. You can feint him into bobbing toward an uppercut. And you can feint him into disclosing what defense he will use against any particular blow.”
After successfully slipping two punches by moving his head down, Mike Tyson (boxer in black trunks) returns his head to the original position. He forgets to move the head into the newposition. As Mike Tyson straightens his body in waist, he got hit by the leftuppercut which clearly staggered him.
Technique 4: pivot step
To avoid this situation, Mike had to move his head somehow to the new spot after the dip. One solution he used was the pivot step to his left , which helped him to simultaneously avoid the line of fire of the uppercut and throw his own left hook:
Then goes a counter attack with a straight right hand or a right hook. Again, in these example, Mike moves his head in such away that the chin is facing almost backwards at some moment of his attack.
Technique 5: parry
This is basically an advanced version of the previous technique. Mike was able to time and push away | parry the right uppercut of the opponent while stepping in:
, and then counter with a straight right hand or a looping right hook. In the fight with James “Bonecrusher” Smith, one can see Mike using the same technique to parry the straight right hand of the opponent. Kostya Tszue was mentioning how with this technique he was able to damage the opponents elbow, if they were not forming the powerline correctly .
Note on Head Movements
We considered some elements of simultaneous defense and attack of Mike Tyson when he was dealing with opponent’s uppercut. The exact execution of the technical elements such as feints, pivot- and side-steps, parries, and head-slots changes requires better understanding of basic strategy (Part VIII) and punching mechanics (Part V, Part VIa, Part VIb, Part VIc, Part VId). With the combined knowledge, we will be bringing all elements together to discuss actual fighting of Mike Tyson from Part IX onwards.
3. What it take to be a champ? short youtube clip
4. RING SMARTS – Episode 1 – The Jab – Paulie Malignaggi. youtube clip
5. Edwin L. Haislet. Boxing (1968). pdf source 1
6. Kostya Tszue – Masterclass (in Russian). youtube clip