The Art of the Jab: The Most Important Punch in Boxing!

Larry Homes Jab

How the jab has been such an important aspect to the success of some of the best fighters to ever lace them up!


The Jab: recognized and taught in boxing gyms across the world! The art of closing the fist, and extending the lead hand while turning the wrist is as synonymous with boxing as a paintbrush is to a painter.

Who can forget the lanky “head-snapper” Larry Holmes pummeled his opponents with?

Or the “piston-like” jab Tommy Hearns utilized that opponents were told about after they woke up from his powerful right cross?

What makes this particular punch so important?

From the perspective of the casual observer, it’s no different than the punches that succeed it. However, it can put a fighter in a desired position and helps establish distance. It also has a high probability of allowing its user to dictate the pace of a fight.

How Different Styles Utilize the Jab

The beauty of the jab is it has been altered throughout its historical usage. Many fighters have used it as another power shot, a setter or as a way to tame a more aggressive opponent. In addition, the velocity of the punch and the placement varies depending on the user.

Stylistically, a fighter who likes to utilize movement will use it as a way to tame an aggressive fighter. If matched with a non-aggressive opponent, he/she will use it to set up other shots from the outside.

Floyd Mayweather was a master at this. Though many believe he did not have enough power to stop anyone, his jab had just enough pop to keep aggressive fighters honest. Also, his jab to the solar plexus was just as effective as body shots incorporated into combinations by other fighters.

Boxer-punchers will incorporate the shot in order to get into mid-range distance where they can unleash bigger shots. Canelo Alvarez is a great example of a fighter that utilizes the jab in this manner as well as Gennady Golovkin.

Aggressive fighters may use it to confuse opponents into directing attention away from a shot they intend to follow-up with. Marcos Maidana did an excellent job of this against Floyd Mayweather. He effectively used his jab to hide his chopping-overhand right that landed more than a few times on the legend.

Other examples are boxers such as the Klitschko brothers and Sergey Kovalev. The Klitschkos were excellent jabbers but packaged the punch differently; delivering more power behind the shot.

Kovalev is a fighter who uses the jab just as effectively as his signature punch: the straight right hand. Many of his opponents have testified that his jab felt similar to a power punch.

An Essential, but Dying Tool

It almost goes without saying speed and flashy combinations may dazzle spectators, but there is no substitute for building a solid foundation and understanding of this art.

So one has to wonder, “why does this essential tool seem to be losing its luster?”

Well one could argue the public cares less about fundamentals and more about excitement and bloodshed. Also many trainers have abandoned the art to focus more on fan-friendly skill-sets in an attempt to increase a fighter’s marketability.

A fighter who relies too much on the jab can end up being a deterrent regarding fans wanting watch more.

However, if incorporated correctly, it can be the precursor to an exciting exchange and even an exciting result of a fight!

By: Cessell Robinson & EJ Williams

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