How to Improve your Boxing Defense? [Quick Guide]

Boxing is a fun sport when you really get into it. However, getting punched is not fun at all.

That’s why in this article we will talk about boxing defense and the importance of it.

The main goal in any combat sport is not getting hit while you are doing damage to your opponent. That’s why a good defense is very important and is a basic foundation for your skills.

But there is a catch:

Your opponent has the exact same goal as you.

That’s why it’s called a fight.

Tips on Improving Your Boxing Defense

Developing the Best Boxing Defense

Mike Tyson GuardFirst of all, always keep your hands up. This is where it all starts. You just can’t defend yourself from punches if there is nothing to stop them.

You should start off in a guard, throw a powerful combination and then get back in the guard immediately.

However, if you are very tired and you are out of the striking range you can lose up your hands just for a second to help you relax but don’t make this a habit or you will learn why you should always keep your hands up the hard way.


Boxing footworkMaybe the best and the easiest defensive technique ever. You can use footwork for just “running away” from the punches and that is a common thing amongst beginners.

However, if you use the footwork to get away with punching it removes the opportunity for a counter-attack.

Another great application of the footwork is to go around your opponent, pivoting and creating angles while staying in fighting range. This grants you the opportunity of counter-attacking with powerful punches.

However, it takes more skill to develop that kind of footwork, and also it requires a lot of energy to perform.


Boxing Clinch Smothering is a classical defense in boxing and other martial arts. Instead of stepping away you can step closer and get a hold of your opponent.

There is literally no easier way to stop someone from punching than just grabbing his arms. Also, it’s great for tiring out your opponent while keeping the range closer.


Blocking Punches

Boxing BlockLearning how to block punches is critical. Having a reliable, energy-efficient guard makes the sparring a lot less stressful which results in a lot faster learning process.

This is the basic boxing defense because it requires little energy and little skill.  Blocking covers your head and body and doesn’t leave you open for punches.

The cons of blocking are that a counter-attacking is very slow and that you are still taking partial damage from your opponents’ punches. Also, If you are sparring against much bigger fighter there is a big probability that he will still be able to hurt you.

Although it’s easy and effective for all punches blocking too much can leave you stuck in your “defensive shell” and lose decisions for not showing any aggression and willingness to fight.


The parry is the best way to tire your opponents by using their power and momentum against them. The power punchers often commit too many force which is an opportunity for you to parry their punch and counter-attack.

However, the drawbacks are that the parry doesn’t work so well against light punches and there is always the risk of vulnerable to fakes and feints.

You can see how to parry a punch in the video below.


Slipping punchesSlipping is one of the things that require the most skill when it comes to boxing defense.

The slip is a quick maneuver that moves the head to the side getting away from your opponents’ punches. In order to slip punches, you want to “pack” your shoulder to the opposite knee while twisting your hips and bending your knees to minimize the time it takes for you to be safe.

You must NOT lean forward nor backward when slipping punches.  The reason is that if you lean forward you will most likely get your face right in front of the incoming punch and if you lean back you will be too far away to counter-attack.

The drawbacks to the slipping is that requires very high-level skills and awareness to be performed well. It’s not enough just to slip the punch, you must be in a position to counter.

Shoulder roll

The shoulder roll, also known as the “philly shell” is a defensive technique that uses one of the shoulders to deflect punches and the other arm to counter-attack.

Floyd Mayweather who is often defined as a “defensive genius” is famous for his shoulder rolls.

The shoulder roll relies on good timing, fast reflexes and a rhythm for defense, and it’s also capable of neutralizing entire combinations.

Here are some basic tips for you when performing a shoulder roll:

  • Keep your eyes on the opponent all the time
  • Keep your guard tight
  • Don’t lean back and don’t rotate too much. Too much rotation or leaning back will take away the opportunity for counter-punching
  • Keep your chin tucked in

The drawback of the shoulder roll is that its ineffective against light and fast punches like the jab which is thrown the majority of the time. Also, it can leave you vulnerable to punches if you get faked or you roll in the wrong direction. This mainly happens when you are fighting a southpaw.


Counter JabWait, aren’t we talking about defense? Yes, there is a saying “the best defense is a good offense”.  It can be very discouraging for your opponent if every time he attacks he gets tagged right in the face with a stiff jab. 

This requires good timing but it’s not so hard technique overall. Also, if you are fighting in a competition this helps you to maintain an aggressive image in the eyes of the judges.

The drawbacks are that it forces you to fight at your opponents’ pace and you might get countered.

What is the Best Defensive Technique for Boxing?

This depends on the situation. Every one of the techniques we listed above is a highly effective and will serve you well if you use them at the right time.

However, when you first start practicing them it won’t feel natural to slip punches or to roll your shoulder. That’s normal but with a lot of practice, you will stop thinking about the techniques and instead you will start to trust your instincts and reflexes.

Just remember – practice makes perfect so keep training, improving and reading FightBest for the Best fighting guides and equipment!

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