By Tré Berry III | 08/01/2019
One of the least talked about tactics in boxing on a grand scale outside of gyms is the use of the feint. The feint is the best tactic to use in freezing your opponent and putting them in a reactive state, which makes them second guess their actions, also slowing down their reaction time by doing so.
The feint also forces your opponent to tense up, which is instrumental in sapping their overall stamina which shows big up time in the long haul of a contest. It also puts them in a compromising situation where their hands are tied in making a decision on whether to react to the feint, or stand their ground, with the boxer utilizing this tactic holding you at his mercy. If you don’t react, they can either let the shots fly upon you, or collect that data to use against you later, and if you do react, you force your opponent to do what it is that you want him to do, and at your desired pace and tempo.
While not used as much on a broad scope as it was used in earlier decades, it is still a very useful tool utilized by many at the top of the ranks today. The best at using various styles of feints is 🥇🥇🇺🇦Vasiliy “Loma” Lomachenko.
There are seemingly endless components pieced together that make Lomachenko the fighter that he is, and the use of the feint is one of his more relied upon mastered techniques that have frozen his opponents, and sapped them not just of their physical strength, but of their mental strength as well, as it takes a toll on both. He tends to use all of the variations spoken of above within his active aggression.
There are often times where Vasiliy will halfway fire a punch not intended to land, way up and out so that he can change your eye level, and confuse you before he works a combination on the opposite side to the body and to the head. He also has the propensity to use his lead right hand in a fencing motion to hypnotize you, purposely keeping you on your back foot and forcing you to move with the motion of the lead hand so that he could set something up off of it.
Lomachenko typically uses his multitude of feints in the beginning of fights to get a gauge on what you coming in were conditioned to do, how you move, what your escape routes are, how you pivot with your foot movement, and whether you are aware enough to react to the feints. From there he can form a snapshot picture in about a round or a round and a half where he ramps it up levels and begins to fit the pieces in to the puzzle that he has already secretly solved in his head.
Once he gets to that stage, that’s where the level of mastery pours out with his shifty footwork, combination punching and punching angles come into full play. When all of those components are bridged together and operating at full bloom, combined with the constant use of the feints, it mentally exhausts and discourages his opponents who already by this point feel over-matched in the skill, boxing IQ, and athletic departments, which is why we’ve seen 6 opponents thus far in his 14 professional fights find ways to check out of their fights halfway through the course of the action.
Another fighter today who is very proficient in using this technique is 🇬🇧Tyson Fury, which is very instrumental to his overall attack, bridging together constant feints and head movement in helping establish his jab, and ring generalship. Other masters from previous time periods who perfected the use of the feint also are fighters such as 🥇🇺🇸Muhammad Ali, 🥇🇺🇸“Sugar” Ray Leonard, 🥉🇺🇸Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr., 🥇🇺🇸“Smokin” Joe Frazier and 🇵🇦Roberto Duran.
The beauty of this trait is that there are more than a double digit amount of ways to use it to set your opponent up. Ali was great at feinting with the jab to keep you worried about what’s to follow next, and freezing his opponents footwork to force them to reset while he backpedaled and circled around on the outside, and using his rangy 1-2 upstairs to take advantage of his opponent who was almost always seemingly out of position due to his feints.
Ray Leonard was very much the same, though with added variety. While he utilized what Ali did, Ray would also feint the jab to the body often, then followed with the jab upstairs, feinting at all different angles to confuse his opponent, then using his speed to land multiple combinations on a momentary stationary target. Joe Frazier out of this bunch was the most unique in utilizing his feints to set up and bait boxers, constantly bobbing and weaving at a feverish pace, which already had opponents weary of what he wanted to spring up with, but also mixing in feints with both hands while doing so, then acting accordingly to how they reacted and landing the thunder.
Mayweather and Duran were master counter-punchers, who used it in different ways, and what they were able to do is find ways to use the feints to get their opponents to commit, then show them a perceived opening that isn’t available to be exploited, baiting the opponent to try and counter them, but instead getting countered over their counter-punch, and winning the chess game by bridging those 2 different components together, mastering the cat and mouse approach.
Floyd in particular was great at keeping his right foot to the outside of his opponent, and feinting with the right cross, forcing the opposing fighter into one direction, then firing the lead left hook off of it, and did so repeatedly at a high success rate. The feint should be one of the 4 most important pillars to teach in all gyms (along with footwork, the jab, and head movement), and it can make a boxers job a lot easier if utilized correctly. Using it throughout the course of a fight also keeps you alert both offensively and defensively, so naturally it should be a technique embedded into your arsenal.