7 Important Boxing Styles and Stances You Need To Know

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boxing styles.

Styles make fights. And looking at the different boxing styles and stances is excellent foundational knowledge for any boxing enthusiast.

If you’re curious about which style is the most dominant or you simply want to better understand the sport for your viewing pleasure, this article’s for you. 

So let’s get into it.

Primary Boxing Styles: In-Fighter (Swarmer)

Let’s start with arguably the most exciting yet dangerous boxing style.

The in-fighter is the most aggressive boxing style and uses constant pressure to fight within their opponent’s reach and land hooks and uppercuts. 

Basically, the goal is to swarm opponents to overwhelm them with volume punches and exhaustion. 

These are generally shorter fighters with a shorter reach and therefore gravitate (out of necessity) toward this inside fighting.

This style generally requires tremendous punch output to exhaust opponents. However, there are those within the swarmer sub-style, like Mike Tyson, famous for their power punches.

And here’s world-class boxing coach Teddy Atlas sharing how to use inside fighting:

Famous pressure fighters

  • Mike Tyson
  • Manny Pacquiao
  • Gennady Golovkin
  • Joe Frazier
  • Jack Dempsey
  • Henry Armstrong

Best Practices Against In-Fighter Boxing Styles

To defend against an in-fighter with an aggressive swarmer-style you need great footwork to maintain distance. You need to pivot and throw off their swarming.

To keep them off, you must also use pot shots and basic punches like a stiff jab. 


These fighters are the opposite of in-fighters and epitomize the ‘sweet science’ cliché amongst boxing fans – sometimes called pure boxers.

It also helps to be rangy and use footwork to stay out of the punching range of their opponents while landing their jabs and straight punches.

Because of their boxing fundamentals, they can hit and not get hit.

And they can often compensate for a lack of power through their athletic abilities and boxing techniques. 

They set traps, evade attacks with rolls and slips and then counter punch. 

This style requires a mix of fight IQ for timing and athletic skill with fast twitch muscle fibers.

And they use a lot of defensive movements to avoid brain damage and go on longer, unbeaten streaks, like Floyd Mayweather Jr with the Philly shell

Famous out-boxer fighters

  • Muhammad Ali
  • Floyd Mayweather Jr. 
  • Ryan Garcia
  • Jack Johnson
  • Laia Ali
  •  Vladamir Klitschko
  • Larry Holmes
  • Pernell Whitaker
  • Willie Pep
  • George Dixon

Out-Fighter Sub-Style: Counter – Puncher

These fighters rely on ultra-fast reflexes to deflect or dodge attacks from a slower fighter to land their own power shots.

Famous counter punchers

  • Canelo Alvarez
  • Salvador Sanchez
  • Juan Manuel Marquez
  • Bernard Hopkins

Best Practices Against an Out-Fighter Counter-Puncher

Obviously, closing distance is crucial against this style. 

Also, throwing them off-rhythm with constant feints can help set up damaging blows.

This style is meant to avoid damage, so, likely, they aren’t as accustomed to getting hit as other styles. And body shots can also be an effective tool against this style. 

Here are some pros and cons to consider about the outside, counter punch boxing styles.

Slugger (Brawlers)

These are modern-day gladiators. They have certain ‘god-given’ power and extreme confidence and are, therefore, (like swarmers) willing to fight in a phone booth.

They don’t need much grace or speed but just strong chins and a single punch to end the night.

Generally, these fighters are found in heavier classes like heavyweight Deontay Wilder. A man who can throw a single punch to an opponent’s forehead and still get the KO.

Famous slugger fighters

  • Deontay Wilder
  • George Foreman
  • Roberto Duran (also a boxer-puncher)
  • Sonny Liston
  • Jake LaMotta
  • Stanley Ketchel 

Best Practices Against a Slugger

Typically the goal against this brawler/slugger style is to take them out of their comfort zone. 

That could be switching it up to put them on the back foot, ala Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury 2, where Fury switched up his game plan after he began training at the Kronk gym to become the aggressor.

Another way is to use footwork, head movement, and counter punches to avoid as many of their punches as possible until they tire themselves out.

Boxer-Punchers (Hybrid Boxers)

These are boxers with a dynamic and well-rounded skillset, able to do it all at a high level.

This is the style of the complete fighter and is relatively rare as they can switch it up. With the technical ability and power to land a devastating punch at both close and mid-range. 

The combination of being able to switch from defensive styles fighting backward to an aggressive style landing powerful punches gives them an advantage. 

These fighters have a bit of everything:

And so, opponents lack any predictable punching patterns or style and must hope for the best.

Famous boxer-punchers

  • Tyson Fury
  • Canelo Alvarez
  • Evander Holyfield
  • Lennox Lewis
  • Sugar Ray Robinson
  • Joe Louis
  • Roy Jones Jr.
  • Oscar De La Hoya
  • Miguel Cotto

Best Practices Against a Boxer-Puncher

While this generalist style of boxing balances defense and offense, it’s hard for every aspect to be at the same level. So any weakness can leave a fighter susceptible to a specialist.

Especially those able to impose their will and engage on their own terms. So when they want to come in and box up close, you create space or vice versa. 

Primary Boxing Stances

Here are the ways boxers stand.

Orthodox Fighters 

The right-handed (orthodox) stance is the most typical stance.  

This style involves using the left hand to guard the face while the right hand is used for power punches.

This is the most common boxing stance; therefore, nearly all famous boxers in history could be listed.

Southpaw Fighters

The left-handed (southpaw) stance is less common but can be devastating.

These are left-handed fighters who stand with their right as their lead hand. This is the reverse of the standard orthodox fighters. 

Generally, the left-handed fighting stance leaves naturally right-handed fighters vulnerable to power punches from the opposite side. 

And as a result, the relatively rare abilities of the left-handed (southpaw) stance actually proved to have greater fighting success in a study published in Nature

Famous Southpaw Boxers

  • Manny Pacquiao
  • Winky Wright


This is the ambidextrous boxer with the rare ability to switch between orthodox and southpaw stances.

They’re both a left and right-handed boxer and because they lack any obvious leads, they can hit opponents from all angles using both hands.

Famous Switch-Hitter Boxers

  • Tyson Fury
  • Terence Crawford
  • Marvin Hagler
  • Andre Ward

And if you’re in the mood, see how these stances compare with Muay Thai stances.

What is the Best Boxing Style? 

If we look at the results of boxing matches throughout history, we can try to find patterns as to which style of boxing proves to be most successful. 

Ali vs Frazier vs Foreman

If we look at some of Muhammad Ali’s (out-fighter) most famous fights, we can get some interesting insights.

The famous out-fighter Ali had one of the greatest trilogies in history against the often criminally overlooked Joe Frazier (in-fighter).

And they were polar opposites. 

Muhammad Ali relied on his jab and masterful footwork to pepper his opponents with combination punching. 

On the other hand, Joe Frazier was a quintessential swarmer – using head movement and constant pressure to get past the jab and deal severe damage with hooks. 

The first fight took place in Madison Square Garden in 1971 and went to Frazier, who overwhelmed Ali with his swarmer style. 

In 1973, undefeated Heavyweight champion Joe Frazier took on slugger George Foreman, who used Frazier’s pressure-fighter style against him, handing him his first loss via TKO in the second round. 

Then in late January 1974, Ali got his revenge with a unanimous decision win over Frazier in a non-title fight. 

This fight helped Ali get his chance to regain the heavyweight belt against the new champ, Foreman, in The Rumble in the Jungle in October 1974. 

Ali used Foreman’s slugger style against him, employing the now infamous rope-a-dope move to let Foreman punch himself out before stopping him in the 8th round. 

Ali and Frazier then met in the ring for the final time in 1975 for the Thrilla in Manila. Ali narrowly won the brutal contest but called it ‘the closest thing to dying that I know of’.

Who Wins Among The Boxing Styles?

These fights show that Ali, the out-fighter, wins in the end. However, we also have to consider what an exceptional person Ali was. 

So to counter that point, we can highlight another out-fighter who arguably isn’t such an exceptional person but Is an exceptional boxer – Floyd Mayweather Jr. 

You could say that the sweet science, using a defensive boxing style where you hit and avoid getting hit, remains undefeated. 

How To Choose Your Boxing Style

It’s important to know that your natural abilities and physical attributes of your body type will greatly impact which styles of boxing you should invest in. 

If you are tall but have bad reflexes, it’s unlikely you’ll want to rely too much on counter punching. 

If you’re short, stocky, and tough there’s a good chance that in-fighting may suit you well.

Knowing which best suits you can be found quite quickly in a boxing gym.

Punching power is often something that we’re born with – so even a beginner hitting mitts with a trainer can understand very quickly whether they can hit hard or not.

The importance is to be brutally honest with the analysis to avoid choosing the wrong style and getting hurt.

And stay at it!

Check out our list of great boxing gifts for ideas of equipment you can pick up to help you out along your journey.

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