One of the most exciting
The Left Hook
and dangerous of the fight game
Want to put your opponents to bed? 
Start practicing your left hook.
In the economics of fighting, spectators pay huge amounts of money for the opportunity to see a one-punch knockout. Whether it’s boxing or MMA, the fighters that hit the hardest draw the biggest crowds. What is even more interesting is the fighters that draw the biggest crowds are the ones known for their powerful left hook. In boxing, the two largest draws by attendance in history are Julio Cesar Chavez and Jack Dempsey (both drew crowds of over 120,000), two fighters known for their toughness, durability, and more importantly, nasty left hooks.
Today, I wanted to talk to you about my favorite punch in the boxing arsenal, the left hook. For righties, lucky you. The momentum built up by throwing the left jab/straight right/left hook combination is more than enough to send an opponent to bed. For southpaws, that lead right hook when your opponent’s hands are down is also a quick way to end the evening for someone.
If you look online, you will see a whole bunch of different top 5 and top 10 countdowns on who had the best left hook, or which left hook KO was the most devastating in history. I’ll simplify it for you. For what it’s worth, boxing experts everywhere agree that the single nastiest left hook KO belongs to the original Sugar. Not Ray Leonard, Shane Mosely, Rashad Evans, or even Sean O’Malley – this is the original.
The one and only Sugar Ray Robinson fought Gene Fullmer in a rematch for the middleweight championship in 1957 and gave fans and pundits a knockout to enjoy for decades because it was so clean. With Fullmer’s hands down at his shoulders, Robinson (a right-handed fighter) took a quick step to the right with his back foot. With his footwork providing a stable base and the leverage needed for a full-power left hook, Robinson put a lead left check-hook on Fullmer’s chin. If you want to see him try to get up from it, I highly recommend you look that fight up. A solid runner-up in this category is when Floyd Patterson knocked out Ingemar Johansson in their rematch for the heavyweight championship in 1960. Johansson didn’t get up for a while – he almost looked dead.
Aside from the one-time punches, hall of fame careers have been made off of a strong left hook. Philadelphia’s own Smokin’ Joe Frazier is proof of that. As a child, Frazier had to help his father cut wood, and because his father was missing his left hand and part of his arm, they had to use a cross saw together to cut wood with Joe’s father using his right hand and Joe using his left. In an interview, Frazier even said it himself, “You could say that was the root of my left hook. When I was a boy, I used to pull a big cross saw with my dad. He’d use his right hand, so I’d have to use my left."
So, did that upbringing make a difference in Frazier’s career? Absolutely. As a member of the 1964 Olympic team, Frazier won gold and KO’d 3 of his 4 opponents along the way. As a professional, Joe won 32 fights with 27 coming by way of knockout and most of those from that gifted left hook. His KO/TKO resume includes Jerry Quarry, Jimmy Ellis, George Chuvalo, and the other top heavyweights from the 60s and 70s.

Well, if you don’t have a cross saw to cut wood for days at a time, I’ve come up with some helpful exercises to develop your left hook. Remember, you don’t have to look like bodybuilder to have a strong left hook. You just need speed, precision, and technique.
First, you don’t need a huge windup in order to throw a powerful punch. The power you need can be generated with a quick twist of the hips and torso to the left side of your body, then sharply back to the right. Similar to how Ray Robinson knocked out Fullmer, a quick sidestep to the right widens your stance and allows your hips and trunk to twist further than they would if you were standing tall. This twisting motion is what generates your power, so as your fist comes across at your opponent, so too should your hips. When they move together, you will see and feel the difference right away.
While standing in your normal stance, either in front of the mirror or a heavy bag, take a quick sidestep and lean to the left to move your bodyweight to your left foot. I shouldn’t have to say this, but your right hand should still be high, protecting your face, then with a quick flare out of the left elbow, turn your left fist over so that your palms are facing the ground and twist as you throw the punch (you can also keep your palms facing you – whichever is more comfortable). From here, your vision should determine whether you throw the punch high or low. If you saw my newsletter from a few weeks ago, Gervonta Davis did this perfectly when he won with that left hook to the liver. He did that because that is where the opening was, and he noticed it.
Another tip for adding power to your left hook is the position of your left elbow. This is a great training drill to do in front of the mirror. As you throw your left hook, watch the position of your elbow in relation to your fist. Your elbow should never be higher than your hand. Doing that reduces the power in your punch and can even hurt your wrist if the punch is blocked with force.
Practice throwing the punch with your elbow at the same level as your fist. The elbow joint serves as a driving force of momentum that carries power from the core of your body, through the arm and to your hands. This way, even if the punch is blocked, if enough force is behind it, you can still disrupt your opponent’s defense and create openings.
The last technique is about your footwork and what is called “squashing the bug”. This refers to fighters generating speed and power for their hook by twisting on the ball of their left foot. Imagine yourself stepping on a bug, that little twist of the foot makes all the difference. 
Top trainers will tell you that a correct hook is not intended to stop at your target, it is intended to go through it, and that is how it should be thrown. As the hook nears your opponent, your face should still be forward, watching your opponent, but your hook should follow through across their body or head. 
Side note, we don’t encourage dirty fighting in boxing, but one benefit of throwing a proper left hook in MMA is that if your hook misses, there is still a good chance your elbow could land. 

This should be enough to get your started on your journey of developing a strong left hook. Remember, this isn’t a punch that requires a huge windup, but it does require attention to the placement of your feet, and the ability to create momentum through the correct body movements and posture.
Aside from your coach and your training partners, the mirror can be your best coach when learning this punch, so grab your hand wraps, keep your hands up and chin down, and give these exercises a shot in the mirror. You will see and hear a difference once you start crushing that heavy bag and snapping your coach’s punch mitts.
I'll see you in the next one,
-Steven Williams

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