Updated 24th August, 2020
Tips on how to box a taller opponent. For MMA specific guide to fighting a taller opponent, please see our other article.
1. Slip the Taller Boxer’s Jab!
The classic and probably the best way to box a taller guy is to move forwards and slip the jab.
Drill this in practice – slip the jab and counter – it’s not enough just to slip the jab!
The easiest way to slip a jab, is to move your head to the outside. If your opponent stands in orthodox stance (left foot forward), then slip your head to the right of the jab.
If you slip your head down and forwards, you should be able to counter with your own jab.
If you are still out of range, you can step forwards with your back leg and jab again. Once you are in range, then unleash uppercuts, hooks, overhands and body shots
2. Jab to the Body
A jab to the body can be an effective technique against a taller guy – aim for the heart!
Be very careful when executing this technique however, you must bend your legs and lower your level and throw the jab straight.
If you throw the jab downwards, you will expose your chin. So bend your legs first!
3. Don’t Stalk – You Back Up & Wait
The classic way to fight against a taller guy is to walk forwards. But this isn’t always the best tactic.
You can frustrate and confuse a taller boxer, by making him come to you.
It then becomes a game of feints and counters. Make sure you have an effective jab-counter ready!
Use Feints & stutter steps if he/she is being cautious. You can even throw a feeler-jab yourself to make him open up with his own counter – then counter his counter!
4. The Walk Around Tactic
Circle on the outside, use feints and occasionally move into range with 1 punch, occasionally 2.
5. The Step Through & Blitz
The Step Through, is called The Dart in MMA. You can pretty much double your reach by stepping forwards as you punch.
You can take this a step further by walking forwards as you punch. In MMA this is often called the Vitor Blitz.
Be very cautious however. Over get a tiny fraction out of range with your standard jab before attempting a “Dart”. It’s very easy to counter if done too far out.
6. Switching Stance
Arguably under utilised in boxing – avoid a taller boxer from ‘timing’ and reading your movement by switching up your stance. Learning to fight in both orthodox and southpaw stance can be a huge advantage.
7. Bob & Weave
Move forwards, with constant head movement by bobbing and weaving.
I like to bob and weave until the taller boxer throws a punch, then counter with a 2 or 3 punch combination.
8. Use the layback & Shoulder Roll
In it’s simplest form, the layback involves, literally, leaning back out of range to avoid a jab.
Ideally, you’ll then ‘recoil’ back into range to throw a counter:
9. Give a False Range
By leaning forwards and turning your shoulder towards your opponent, you can create a ‘false range’. You can easily back out of range when your opponent jabs and then counter with your own punches.
10. Keep Your Head Off Centre-Line
Keep your head to the side when moving into your punching range. If you jump forwards with your head up and in the middle – you’ll run into a jab.
Randy Couture (6ft 1), used side to side head movement, looping punches and laybacks to beat Tim Sylvia (6ft 8).
11. Mix it all up – including your rhythm
Start with 1 tactic, for example moving forwards and slipping the jab – if it works, keep using that approach!
If you still find you are getting picked-off, try a different style e.g. the walk around technique.
The walk around technique is also a good way to take a bit of a rest, in between attacks!
Specific Punches to Use Against a Taller Boxer
The Overhand Right (or left)
“look at his toes and throw a bowling ball”
The overhand is set up nicely with a jab to the body. If you can hit the body, you’re in range for an overhand.
Power comes from dropping your bodyweight first, then immediately after – the hand follows in an arcing motion.
The Russian Hook
The Russian Hook is different to a conventional hook, in that the thumb is turned down and the arm is almost straight. The fact that the arm is almost straight, gives it more range.
The Jumping Left Hook
What Not to Do Against a Taller Boxer
Do not over-extend yourself to try and get in range, you will get picked apart! Against any counter puncher, it’s a bad idea to over-reach.
Bonus Tip – Hand Trapping Against a Taller Boxer & the Zombie Guard
If the taller boxer refuses to engage, try trapping his lead hand and then beating him to the punch.
You can also use a ‘layback’ (literally leaning back to avoid a punch) and the Zombie Guard.
Similar to the gif of D.C. Vs Stipe above – the Zombie guard involves holding your arms out relatively straight to occupy and pre-block the space that your taller opponent’s straight punches would occupy.
If they throw a jab or a cross, you can palm-block or parry and counter, or lean-back/layback and counter
Watch short fighters on youtube!
Fedor, Mike Tyson, Daniel Cormier etc
It’s also a great idea to film your own sparring, of possible, watch it back in brtween rounds