10 fights every boxer must study to increase their overall ring IQ

From the artful dance of footwork to the subtle nuances of defensive mastery, every fight holds within it a wealth of knowledge waiting to be unlocked. To truly excel in the ring, one must not only possess physical prowess but also a deep understanding of the sport's intricacies. 

This is why the study of fights is paramount for any aspiring boxer or martial artist. By dissecting these monumental clashes, you'll gain insights into the finer points of ringcraft, learning to anticipate, adapt, and execute with precision. 

So, strap in, sharpen your focus, and prepare to elevate your understanding of the sweet science as we explore the 10 fights every boxer must study to increase their overall ring IQ.

Corrales vs Castillo 1 (2005)

    • Incredible Grit: Both fighters showed immense heart, battling back from adversity. Corrales overcame knockdowns, and Castillo fought valiantly despite a gruesome cut. Young boxers can learn about perseverance and digging deep even when things look bleak.
    • Adaptability in the Midst of Chaos: The fight was a wild slugfest that took unexpected turns. Analyze how both fighters adjusted their strategies on the fly to exploit weaknesses and survive. This highlights the importance of thinking in the ring and making real-time adjustments.
    • Capitalizing on Openings: This fight is a masterclass in recognizing and seizing moments of vulnerability. Study how Corrales identified Castillo's hurt state and capitalized with a finishing flurry. Pay attention to specific tells, like body language or dropped hands, that signal an opening for a counterpunch.

      Bivol vs. Canelo (2022)

      • Patience: Bivol showcased exceptional patience, waiting for Canelo's openings and countering effectively. Aspiring boxers can learn the value of not rushing into exchanges and picking their shots.
      • Skill over Power: Bivol relied on superior technical skills to negate Canelo's power advantage. Watch how he used footwork and angles to avoid punches. Focus on Bivol's footwork drills and how they translate to in-fight movement for effective slipping and weaving.
      • Footwork: Bivol's masterful footwork allowed him to control the distance and dictate the pace of the fight. Study his movement to understand its importance in creating and exploiting openings. Analyze his footwork patterns, specifically how he uses pivots and lateral movement to stay out of Canelo's range.

      Fury vs. Wilder 3 (2021)

        • Entertainment: This fight was a roller coaster ride with knockdowns, drama, and unexpected twists. It exemplifies the thrilling and unpredictable nature of boxing.
        • Rising from the Ashes: Similar to Corrales vs Castillo, Fury displayed immense resilience by getting up from knockdowns to win. This fight highlights the importance of a strong core and proper recovery technique to get back on your feet after a knockdown.
        • Post-Knockdown Strategy: Analyze Fury's strategy after being knocked down in round 4. Notice how he used clinches to buy time and recover before resuming the fight.

          Mayweather vs. Canelo (2013)

            • Defensive Mastery: Mayweather's defensive clinic is a must-watch for any boxer. See how he uses his shoulder roll and footwork to make himself nearly impossible to hit cleanly.
            • Strategic Approach: Mayweather perfectly executed his game plan of frustrating Canelo and avoiding brawls. Aspiring boxers can learn the importance of having a strategy and sticking to it. This fight showcases the importance of scouting your opponent and developing a fight plan that exploits their weaknesses.
            • Shoulder Roll Technique: Deconstruct Mayweather's shoulder roll technique. Pay attention to his hand placement, body positioning, and footwork in conjunction with the roll to maximize its effectiveness.

              Duran vs. Leonard 1 (1980)

              • Raw Power and Aggression: Duran's relentless pressure and ferocious punching are a spectacle to behold. Young fighters can learn the importance of using aggression effectively. However, using aggression recklessly can leave you open to counters.
              • Shifting Tides: The fight showcased how momentum can swing wildly in boxing. Watch how both fighters had dominant stretches, making for a captivating contest. This fight emphasizes the importance of staying focused and maintaining composure throughout the fight, even when you're winning.
              • Cutting Off the Ring: Analyze Duran's effective use of cutting off the ring to trap Leonard against the ropes. Study his footwork and how he corners his opponent.

                Leonard vs. Hagler (1987)

                  • High-Level Technical Boxing: This is a classic clash between two skilled fighters showcasing exceptional offense and defense.
                  • Adaptability: Both Leonard and Hagler were forced to adapt their strategies as the fight progressed. Watch how they countered each other's strengths and weaknesses. This fight highlights the importance of having a diverse skillset and being able to adjust your tactics mid-fight.
                  • In-Fighting vs. Out-Fighting: This fight is a great example of contrasting styles. Analyze how Leonard used his out-fighting style to counter Hagler's in-fighting approach.

                  James Tony vs. Mike McCallum (1991) 

                    • Iron Chins and Bone-Crushing Punches: This fight is a slugfest for the ages, with both fighters trading heavy blows.
                    • Fighting Spirit: Both Tony and McCallum displayed unwavering fighting spirit, refusing to back down despite the punishment they absorbed.
                    • Head Movement and Punch Defense: This fight is a great example of good head movement and punch defense, even in a brawl. Analyze how both fighters use head movement (slips, ducks) and parries to avoid clean punches despite the constant pressure. 

                    Canelo vs. GGG 2 (2018)

                      • Close Competitive Fight: This rematch was a much closer fight than the first, showcasing the importance of adjustments and strategic improvements.
                      • Importance of Adjustments: Analyze how both Canelo and GGG made adjustments based on the learnings from their first encounter. Notice the changes in footwork, punch selection, and overall strategy.
                      • Countering: This fight is a good example of countering. Watch how both fighters try to anticipate and counter each other's punches. Analyze specific counters they land, like right hooks over jabs or uppercuts on the inside.

                      Lomachenko vs. Linares (2018)

                        • Technical Brilliance: Lomachenko's exceptional footwork, speed, and counterpunching are on full display in this fight. Aspiring boxers can learn about technical mastery and using skills to overcome size disadvantages.
                        • Exploiting Weaknesses: Lomachenko identified Linares' vulnerabilities and exploited them throughout the fight.
                        • Footwork for Offense: Lomachenko's footwork isn't just defensive, it's also used for offense. Analyze how he uses footwork to create angles and land punches from unexpected positions.

                        Arturo Gatti vs. Micky Ward (1994)

                          • Heart and Determination: This trilogy is legendary for the sheer willpower and determination displayed by both fighters. It exemplifies the never-say-die attitude needed in boxing.
                          • Action-Packed Brawls: All three Gatti vs. Ward fights are action-packed brawls with constant exchanges. Watch for their relentless fighting style, but remember it's not always the most sustainable approach.
                          • Fighting on Instinct vs. Technique: This trilogy is a great contrast between fighting on pure instinct (Gatti) vs. technical boxing (Ward). Analyze the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.


                            When you study those legendary bouts, you're not just watching for fun…

                            You're picking up tricks of the trade from the best in the business. Each fight, from the relentless spirit of Corrales and Castillo to the strategic brilliance of Mayweather and Canelo, is a masterclass in resilience, strategy, and skill. 

                            By immersing yourself in these epic encounters, you're not only gaining a deeper understanding of the sport but also fuelling your own journey toward mastery. 

                            So, keep dissecting those fights, absorb the wisdom they offer, and don't hesitate to share your thoughts on other fights worth studying in the comments below!

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