Are you getting into boxing and want to be more effective in the ring? If so, it’s important to learn the art of boxing combos. These will allow you to open up gaps in your opponent’s defense and take advantage in a fight.
The problem is that many boxing combinations are complicated and difficult for a beginner to learn. Thankfully we’ve found some awesome basic boxing combinations that are highly effective but still quite easy to learn. So let’s get started by looking at exactly what a boxing combo is.
What is a Boxing Combo?
A boxing combination is where you land a series of punches in a short period of time. These are usually in a pre-planned move that boxers either practice going into a fight, or are made up during a bout.
The aim of a boxing combo is to open up your opponent’s defenses and find an opening. This is usually done by forcing them to protect one part of their body before you target another.
Without combinations, it can be hard to successfully land a punch on your opponent, especially if they are being defensive. A combination is a boxer’s version of a magic trick. The aim is to deceive the opponent and hit them with the reveal, which should hopefully be a devastating punch!
What Are The Punch Numbers In Boxing?
Ever heard a boxing trainer shout things like “1-2” in a boxing gym? Well, those numbers correlate to specific punches that the boxer needs to throw. It would be very difficult for a trainer to call out different types of punches rapidly, so instead, these numbers are used to make it easier.
- Left Hook
- Right Hook
- Left Uppercut
- Right Uppercut
If you’re getting into boxing, you’ll already know what a jab is but may be unsure about what a hook, cross, or uppercut is. We’ll explain each of them briefly here so you don’t have any doubts.
Jab – A jab is a punch thrown with the lead hand (the one closest to your opponent) straight ahead with your arm fully extended. These aren’t power punches but are used to wear your opponent down, control distance, and set up combinations.
Cross – This is technically the same as a jab but delivered with your rear hand. The punch is straight and with an extended arm. The big difference here is that the rear hand is almost always your dominant hand. That, added to the rotational force of your body, can make this a powerful punch.
However, with it being your rear hand, the punch has a long way to travel. This makes it easily defended if thrown in a single shot.
Hook – This is where your arm comes around in a circular motion. The aim here is to hit the side of the body or head. There are different types of hooks, and they can be thrown with either hand. They can be hard to spot as an opponent when used in a combination or as a counter punch.
Uppercut – The uppercut is perhaps the most famous type of punch due to its rarity, devastation, and beauty. Here you punch in a similar arc to a hook, but the fist comes up vertically with the back of your hand facing the opponent.
10 Basic Boxing Combinations
Let’s take a look at 10 beginner boxing combos. I’ve arranged them in difficulty from easy to intermediate, but these are still all fairly basic combinations that you can learn very quickly. Crucially, you’ll be able to use them all in a real bout.
To note, all these combinations are from an orthodox stance. If you’re southpaw, switch out the lefts for rights, and vice versa. Let’s get started with our boxing combinations list.
1. Jab – Cross
The jab-cross is one of the best basic boxing combos that every boxer needs to learn. Throwing a cross on its own is almost always a bad idea unless it’s a counter. As it’s thrown with the backhand, the opponent will have time to block it if it’s a single shot.
This is why you need a strong jab. It’ll force your opponent to cover up, which means they’ll then find it harder to see the cross coming. You can also use the jab to try and open up areas of space which you’ll then exploit with your cross.
2. Jab – Jab – Cross
This is a simple extension of our first combo, and one of the easy boxing combos to learn. When you’re starting out in the boxing world, one of the hardest mental skills to learn is patience. All you want to throw are those hooks and crosses, but it’s not a recipe for success.
Doubling up on the jab puts the opponent on the back foot, as it’s often unexpected. They are likely to try and counter, which is when you can throw the cross as they release from the block. If your jab is working, then keep throwing it.
3. High-Low / Low-High
This is less a specific combination and more a way of throwing your punches. A boxer can only protect themselves from punches with their gloves and arms. If they tuck in their arms high and tight, it exposes the sides of the body. If they guard low and wide, it exposes the head.
To make use of this, it’s a great idea to punch on one level, and then move to the other. For example, jab to the head and cross to the body. Or jab to the body and cross to the head. You can even do consecutive crosses to the head and then the body. Keep manipulating your opponent’s movement, and you’ll find openings.
4. Jab – Step – Body Hook
Here we step up into intermediate combinations that require better body positioning. This utilizes what we were just talking about with punching high, then low.
You want to throw a sharp and powerful jab to the head, and then push off your left foot, moving to your right-hand side. Now your opponent will be covering their head, and you’ll be in the perfect position to strike.
Throw a powerful left hook into the exposed rib cage, and your opponent will soon be wincing in pain.
5. Jab – Cross – Left Hook
This is a classic example of where not every punch needs to be a power punch. Jab to make them cover up, and then throw a cross to then put yourself in the perfect body shape for a cross.
You want to use the rotational forces of your body. Use the cross to turn your shoulders, then rock them back in the opposite direction to throw the left hook.
Left hooks are very hard for an opponent to spot. You can usually target the body here, but if your opponent releases the guard, you can go for the head.
6. Feint Cross – Jab – Right Hook
This combination is all about speed and a variation on the one above. Here the feint cross and the jab should be delivered in rapid succession and with minimal power. This will put your opponent on the back foot and vulnerable.
As you throw the jab, you want to shift your weight into position for the right hook. You can pick to go high or low with the right hook, but the body is probably going to be wide open.
7. Cross – Hook – Cross
We’ve looked at a few combinations which are great for opening up the body. This is one that will open up space for a headshot. The initial cross you throw isn’t going to be delivered with much power.
You can then hook to the body, which will draw their guard down and leave them open for a cross to the chin.
This is a combination that requires fluid movement of the shoulders as, for an orthodox fighter, you cross your body with the right, cross back using the left hook before using that momentum to deliver a powerful right.
8. Right Uppercut – Left Hook
The uppercut is a shot that many don’t expect. When you are toe-to-toe with an opponent and fighting in close, it can be hard to throw an effective combination. This is a short and sharp combo that can be devastating.
When you have a little space on the inside, throw the right uppercut into the chin of your opponent. Hopefully, this makes them stand up a little more upright.
Before they have a chance to get their guard up, swing in that left hook as hard as you can. This is one of the more difficult boxing combos to practice, so make sure you put in the work before you fight.
9. Jab – Cross – Step Back – Cross
In the heat of the moment, a little patience goes a long way. We’ve already seen with #1 that the jab-cross is one of the most basic and effective combinations. This is a variation that will produce better results when it comes to boxing technique combinations.
Do your jab–cross, then take a step back. In that momentary step back, your opponent may think your combo is finished and look to engage. Instead, step back forward and hit them with a huge cross. They won’t expect it.
10. Jab – Cross – Jab – Hook
This is a combination that you can play around with when it comes to where on their body you throw these punches. You could throw this combo 10 times in a fight but they could all look different.
For example, you can jab to the body and throw the power punches to the head. You could throw the first three to the head and hook to the body, or through the cross to the body and the hook to the head.
Mix it up and see how your opponent reacts. Find weaknesses in their guard and then exploit them.
Tips for Throwing Boxing Combinations
For those getting into the sport, it’s easy to make mistakes when it comes to combinations. Here are some important tips to ensure you’re punching combos and being delivered perfectly every time.
Not Every Punch Needs to be 100% – This is the single biggest mistake when throwing combinations. Often it’s only the final punch of a combination that is meant to be delivered with any force. If you throw everything into every punch, then it won’t set it up well, and it’ll take too much out of you.
For example, let’s look at the Jab – Cross – Left Hook. Here you’re using the jab and the cross to make the opponent cover their face and leave themselves open. They don’t need to be big shots. You can then adjust your body and deliver a maximum power left hook.
Shift Your Weight – Look at #4 on our list. This combination needs you to step to the side for it to work. And many others require body movement too. When practicing boxing combos for a heavy bag or in a spar, make sure to perfect your body movement.
Speed Kills – This links in with our first tip. Throwing heavy punches takes time and effort. A fast combination will confuse your opponent and open up gaps. A lot of the time, you’ll get better results when focusing on speed rather than power.
Don’t Overdo It – You’ll often see in boxing where one fighter throws a combination that seems to hurt his opponent but can’t finish them off. Why is that? It’s because combinations take a lot of effort, and sometimes you can be left with nothing else in the tank.
Don’t Forget the Body – A huge mistake that amateurs often make is that they go headhunting. It’s a natural instinct that takes over when you’re not thinking clearly. If they aren’t covering their body, then take advantage.
Mix It Up – Using the same combination over and over won’t produce great results. The opponent will get wise to it and start covering up. Make sure to mix up your combinations to keep your opponent off guard.
How many boxing combos are there?
There are an unlimited number of boxing patterns, as you can combine any punches you want. Along with the classic combination, including the ones that we’ve looked at here, feel free to make up your own. It’s all about the element of surprise.
What is the best boxing combo?
This depends on your opponent and their weaknesses. Try a few different combinations in a fight and go with what’s working. What works on one opponent may not work on another. Therefore it’s difficult to say what the best boxing combo is.
What is 1-2 combo in boxing?
A 1-2 combo is a jab followed by a cross. You can see this in our punch number guide above. For example, 1-1-2 would be a jab-jab-cross, and 1-2-1-4 would be a jab-cross-jab-right hook. You’ll often hear trainers call out these boxing number combinations during pad sessions.
How to throw smooth boxing combinations?
Throwing great combinations is all about timing. Don’t rush them, and try to be relaxed. Also, learn to be light on your feet and shift your weight accordingly. And remember, not every punch needs to be 100%. Combinations are all about setting your opponent up and finding an opening.
Are boxing combinations effective in a real fight?
Yes, they are incredibly effective. That being said, you shouldn’t solely rely on set combinations. You may need to counterattack, keep using the jab, or take advantage of a loose guard from your opponent. You need to be flexible in a fight, and on top of your set combinations, it’s important to know how to make them up on the spot.