"Everybody has a plan, until they get hit..."
- Mike Tyson
Here is your plan until you get hit, part I
Facing a taller jabber
Because you're the shorter fighter, you can't relax and go through the motions. You have to be active and turn your disadvantage into an advantage.
The taller boxer wants to do his work on the outside, where you can't hit him. However, once you're on the inside, you have the advantage because you can nail him with short punches, whereas he needs room to punch.
Basically, there are two ways to use this and beat these kind of fighters.
My favorite method; stay just outside of his range most of the time and pick your spots carefully but equally violently. The best way to do this is to time his jab or right hand, duck/slip, step inside, and BANG! throw a hard counter right followed by a left hook, uppercut, or whatever you like. AND DON'T STOP PUNCHING! The tall man will do anything to keep the fight on the outside, so once you're inside your only have precious time; you can't afford to relax or let him off the hook. This is your time so use it damnit!
When he gets out of range or ties you up, you simply start over, by staying just a little bit away from his range. Depending on him, you will either back up or come forward slowly. When he makes his move, you make yours. Of course, you have to add some variation to not become predictable, so you can add a few jabs or come in using a Tysonesque bob and weave attack. Keeping a tight, high guard throoghout is very important.
A great example of landing a right hand over the jab can be seen here, watch it at 5:10 and watch it ten times in a row. I did. This is what boxing is all about
For an execution of this general gameplan, Ruslan Chagaev vs Felix Savon is a nice blueprint:
(his pro fight with Valuev is good for this as well, but that should be slow-motion compared to what you're doing)
This is a more dangerous way, but can be very effective. Instead of picking your spots, you're gonna pick him apart. Be very aggressive and never give him a chance to breath. Cut off the ring, back him against the ropes, corner him, and unleash hell. Destroy the body if possible. This strategy involves more risk because you're going to take quite a few hits before you start wearing him down, and you cannot afford to take a breather because that means he gets one as well. Fighting hard going backward costs more energy than coming forward (which gives you better leverage on your punches as well), so expect to have a much better 2nd and 3rd round than your first.
Personally i'm not a fan of this strategy because you basically go all-in. However, it can be a good way to neutralise his size advantage. If he enjoys faster hands, then this option becomes even better. Needless to say, a constant high guard and a lot of upper body movement is essential.
A beautiful and devastating example of making the opponent work harder than he wants and breaking him down is Joe Frazier vs Bob Foster:
Being the taller fighter
Basically you want to do the opposite of the above. Work on your jab. Make it fast, snappy and make sure you can throw it from a multiple angles, so that your opponent won't know when it's coming. I also like to feint a jab to the head, then step in and follow with a hard, stiff jab to the midsection. Make sure you do it when they back up or are on the defensive, though, because you're open to a counter. However, i found that if you mix up your attack and do this only a few times per round at most, the opponent will instinctively cover or back up without thinking about a possible counter for an incoming body jab.
Other than that though, being a headhunter when you're on the outside while YOU'RE LEADING THE ACTION is a very strong play. Countering or when he's backing up are good times to throw a good bodyshot/combination, but when both of you are waltzing on the outside, there is no reason to give up your height and go there. When you rock your opponent and he's covering up, digging in a hard liver hook and other punches to the body is very favorable, too.
While keeping a constant high guard is preferable when being the shorter fighter, when i'm taller i like to keep my right glued to the cheek but the left somewhat out there, to block incoming shots, measure him and basically make my jab unpredictable. Basically like this, only with the left a bit higher and a bit less extended most of the time:
Throwing a jab-straight right-left hook combination is VERY powerful from this position.
You probably felt it coming...... how to deal with the two methods described above?
Countering method #1:
There are a lot of things to do here, but the most important one is LATERAL MOVEMENT. If you go back in a straight line, he can simple take a step forward for every you go backward. However, when you go sideways, he hits a dead end because you can't turn and punch at the same time. Plus, it has the advantage that you won't get trapped on the ropes or cornered.
You know that he's going to pick his offensive moments, so if you can interrupt him here, then you have completely neutralized him. Countering him is possible if you have a good hand or footspeed advantage, but in general i would recommend either backing or tying him up, and then continue to do your work on the outside where he can't do shit.
A quick short hook, straight right or uppercut inside can do miracles though. It requires a lot of experience and timing to pull it off, but it often has great results because the opponent doesn't see it coming. Watch 5:59 of this Lewis vs Morrison video:
Or 00:22 of Savon vs Tua:
Watch the slowmotion replays also.
Needless to say, footspeed and stamina are very important if you fight this way; you can't afford to get flat-footed. So, do plenty of roadwork and if you think you really need to get to a higher level, running backwards can help a lot. Gene Tunney (watch his footwork and how he is still going by the 10th round) used to do this a lot.
Since he will want to counter your shots, you have to vary your offensive. Learn to hook off the jab!
It's a very difficult technique, but very effective and in my opinion somewhat underrated. When he won't know what's coming, you have a higher chance of getting in a clean shot. Watch 6:16 of this video how devastating it can be when he expects a jab but get nailed with a big left hook:
Countering method #2:
The opponent wants to make it a brawl and it's your job to neutralize this as much as possible. One way to do this, is to simply tie him up or lean against him, where he can't hit you. Some people would consider this an unmanly tactic, but it's more manly than getting knocked out. You simply need to stop him from rushing forward because you can't constantly back up and be effective.
Choose your offensive moments but don't allow him to control you. Lean on him and walk him back; he is most effective when coming forward, not backward. Holyfield controlled an onrushing Tyson by pushing him back and clinching him. Douglas vs Tyson, same story. Cotto was dead tired after the 9th because he never tied Margarito up earlier. Mosley did, and had plenty left in the 9th to score a knockout. Of course you won't be fighting 12 rounders, but i can guarantee that it will be longest 8 minutes of your life if you have to run or slug with a slugger for four rounds.
Other kinds of styles:
Facing the counter puncher
Teddy atlas always says "counter the counter puncher", but i think this is more something that sounds cool rather than really sound, practical advice.
However, you can make it work under certain conditions. Some boxers have a tendency to use the same countering habits. For instance, some will duck away slightly from your jab or block it, and then fire their own. Then it's a good idea to throw a jab, immediately followed by going low, under his jab and come over the top with a hard right hand or left hook if you please.
Keeping a high guard at all times is certainly important.
As stated before, mixing up your offensive ways and movement to not become predictable is very important, but even more so in this case. He can't counter a move that he can't see. Vary pawing jabs with triple hard jabs, hook off it, throw in the odd right hand lead, body shots, etc.
Something else that works nicely is feinting. This goes back to Atlas' saying: you make a feint, knows something of his is coming and take it from there. Some boxers also have a tendency to stick out or even push their hand to block your jab. A feint is great here, once their hand is out, bring a straight right over the top, or a left hook if he's using the right hand.
If he's really too fast and skilled for you, then you can always resort to method #2 as mentioned above. That way you will take away his advantage by overwhelming him.
....Part II coming up