Frank Buglioni: How To Spot The Best Boxers vs The Pretenders

by Frank Buglioni

It is ALL in the eyes. The best boxers have a steely inner determination – they don’t brag or yell about what they do, creating a circus around them. You can see it when you look at them – cool calm vicious eyes. Deadly serious. Challenging you.

Alert doesn’t mean nervous and scared or fidgety. It means calm and ready, observing everything. From the moment you twitch your shoulder, they’ve already prepared their slipping pattern for your next 3 punches. They always seem to know where to look. They always know what’s coming next and from what angle. They see your movements almost even before you’ve decided on them.

To be fast, you have to be slow. It sounds confusing, but when you think about it, it’s obvious. The best boxers have to be fast, but not all of the time. To surprise their opponent, they must first move slowly, walking around and lulling them into a false sense of security, calming them, making them think that they’re the one in control before BAM! they change speed. Lighting quickness and a knockout bow.

Only beginners try to be fast constantly, jumping and jerking around all over the place. They’re not in control, they’re not thinking properly and it shows in their technique and the number of avoidable mistakes they make. Whereas, when you watch the pros spar, there are many moments of calm stillness, almost like two people meditating before springing to life against with combinations. And then back into their relaxed meditative staring contests. They don’t stop moving, but it’s seamless.

Pros throw many punches that are really fast touching shots. They’re not loaded power jabs, more like a quick reach. They know exactly when and where and how they want to throw, and do it from so many different angles. Opponents are constantly on their feet and need to be quick to respond, not in hitting back, but in dodging. That’s where calmness comes in, a good opponent will see a shot coming and if they can avoid it, they will, if not, they’ll position themselves to protect and limit the impact of the blow, both on their body and points.

It’s not unusual to see pros throwing rapid bursts of combinations and combination exchanges. Combination, pause, combination; it’s every boxer’s ideal situation, but the pauses are what make the difference. Time to think, observe, adapt and respond to what’s just happened. To get the best out of your next shots, not just throw aimlessly before your opponent takes control and gets the better of you, whilst you still haven’t given yourself time to think. That’s what amateurs do: they trade and engage in longer combinations, they don’t move as much as it’s normally their downfall.

Here are 4 of the most common combinations. Next time you watch a fight, look what each boxer is doing. Are they replicating any of them? Which one is class and which one is a clown?


  • Spin-outs On The Inside. Amateurs and casual boxers usually play the distance game where both fighters constantly jump in and out. Pros are especially skilled at coming right up to your face at precisely the right time (when you’re not punching) and then pivoting around you and/or spinning you to reverse positions along the ropes.
  • Lots Of Walking. Pros normally fight for so many rounds. They avoid wasting energy jumping around the way amateur boxers do, instead relying on clever use of angles and slick movements to avoid punches up close. Walking is essential. It sops them from having to move around as much, giving them space to sit down and stay grounded for more powerful punches.
  • Killer Body Shots. Pros throw amazing hooks to the body. They know the perfect spots and have honed in smooth head movements and precise timing to dig to the body; and are also well prepared to counter right hands when they throw left hooks to the body. Fearless and confident.
  • Smooth Head Movement. The best boxers have incredibly smooth head movement. Not fast or jerky, sometimes it doesn’t appear to move at all, almost like they’re slipping in slow motion and yet all the punches miss. Stunning to watch.

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