The principles of effective punching are: deception, effective weight transference, and placement. Ideally a blow will utilize all three but any one of them is enough to create a punch that will knock the average man unconscious.
If a man is expecting to get hit, if he can see the punch coming and steel himself to its impact, then it’s unlikely that the blow will produce a knockout. It’s more effective to hit a man with a lighter punch that he doesn’t see coming than a heavier blow which he has prepared himself for, even if only for a fraction of a fraction of a second.
A good method of deceiving your opponent as to the timing and placement of a blow is to “hide” the punch inside a series of lighter shots. Therefore, you should always throw more than one punch and never try to “pot shot” your opponent with one punch from the outside. Keep your hands up and chin down, tucked behind the lead shoulder, and commit to starting and finishing exchanges with your opponent. It’s within these exchanges that most damage is done.
By feinting to one part of the body and throwing to another you can catch your opponent unaware or make him defend the wrong part himself. Feinting should be done with the shoulders, head, eyes and feet and not just the arms. Effective feints are small and subtle and are concerned with disrupting your opponent’s rhythm ever so slightly.
Effective body punching both drains your opponent of vitality and also makes feints more effective. In addition to setting up a knockout blow to the chin with repeated punches and feints to the body, a rarer and more elegant technique is to feint to the head and deliver a well-placed and accurate left hook to the opponent’s body when he doesn’t expect it.
Also effective is to cause your opponent to cover up his head with a light combination then shoot a quick, accurate left hook which touches the short ribs just under the chest. This is how Bernard Hopkins stopped Oscar De La Hoya when they fought. This shot, when landed correctly, is the single most unpleasant blow to get hit with in boxing and is the only punch that I know of that is so incapacitating that it will make a trained professional boxer quit.
Through the correct transference of your body’s weight tremendous force can be generated in your punches over very short distances and with little visible movement. This is the secret to infighting. The weight of the body should move up from the feet through the legs, hips, core, then shoulders and arms and be delivered on the end of the fist with a snap. The movement is akin to the way one shifts the weight from one foot to another when dancing in place. Fluidity is essential and coordination has more to do with punching effectively than bodily strength.
Raw speed and reflexive ability are inherent and cannot be developed if you‘re not blessed with them from the get go. However, rhythm and timing can be developed with practice. A fighter who has good technique, i.e. throws short straight punches, and who has developed his ability to time his opponents will seem fast whether he is or isn’t. The great nullifier of an opponent’s superior hand speed is a consistent and steady jab.
A boxer’s body and ability to punch must be conditioned through countless repeated movement, drills, shadow boxing and sparring. This process takes years of training and the athletic prime of a boxer is typically only a few years (27–31). This is why a really excellent boxer who has long-term success in the ring is such a rarity and one of the most remarkable occurrences in the sports world.