How to fight a southpaw opponent
Daniel Dawson and Austin Trout in their 2014 encounter at Pechanga Resort & Casino, Temecula, California, US / Pic: Facebook

Here I will be discussing proven tactics used when sparring or competing against a southpaw boxer. This is a frequent question I get asked at Boxrite. Below are pointers that are not only applicable for boxing but combat sports in general when against a left handed opponent.

Vital points to remember when facing a southpaw

  1. Foot positioning – your lead foot should be placed to the outside of opponent’s lead foot.
  2. Circle to your left to not only move away from the dominant cross or rear kick, but also keep the southpaw opponent slightly off balance. This also positions the southpaw opponent in direct line for an orthodox cross and rear thigh or head kick.
  3. Southpaws are counter-fighters, meaning they will wait for the opponent to attack first and score with their own punches when their opponent is closing range. When facing a southpaw use tactics such as feints (foot, body, punch) to make a southpaw opponent react and commit with an attack making them vulnerable to a counterattack.

To assist developing these skills to become instinctive requires much practice. Firstly with your coach or training partner undertaking focus mitt drills developing footwork, defence and effective counterpunching skills against a left handed opponent. Once confident with working these skills on the mitts, the next step is technical sparring whereby coach instructs set drills for the boxers to execute. Repetition is the key to making these skills instinctive. Once competent, the next phase is controlled sparring where boxers spar at 60% pace.

The final phase is open sparring boxers spar at 80-90% pace making this process realistic to competition intensity. The conventional orthodox boxer should instinctively be able to apply tactics, defences and counterpunching skills against a southpaw opponent. It is important to conduct this sparring under the supervision of the coach offering guidance and tips, as well as critiquing mistakes and bad habits to be rectified.

Watch the video below of myself preparing world title contender Daniel Dawson for his fight against southpaw former WBA World Super Welterweight champion Austin Trout. Notice the lateral movement to turn opponent making them exposed to the cross.

Bobby Mayne
Bobby Mayne is the Head Coach at Boxrite Boxing Club and author of several boxing coaching books including the bestselling "The Art of Boxing: Your Guide to the Sweet Science". Mayne has been involved in boxing since 1981. He has trained professional boxers such as Australian Daniel Dawson to compete at the world level, becoming a world contender and ultimately the WBF World Superwelterweight Champion. He also assisted in the training of top boxers from the Philippines including Rey Megrino and Rey Loreto, who were both successful in winning their respective WBC Regional and WBO World Flyweight titles.