boxing tournament
July 22, 2018
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by TheBoxingGear

In the world of boxing, every fighter wants to win. Some are lucky enough to win cleanly while others feel the need to employ some illegal tactics just to win.

This article will explain the most common dirty fighting tactics used by pro fighters in their quest for glory.

Elbows and Forearms

Elbows and forearms are lethal tactics that many fighters get away with a lot. George Foreman and Mayweather Jr. are some of the professionals that come to mind with the mention of this tactic. Many other boxers also use this tactic.

This tactic involves a fighter throwing a wild looping punch and follows it with a forearm or an elbow.

Some opponents may follow it up with a shoulder shot. One can punch two to three shots.

Elbows punish the opponent and knock him off his stride and even open up cuts on the opponent’s face.

mixed martial arts pro fight

Some fighters also get knockouts from illegal angles. George ‘elbow’ Foreman accredited elbows to some of his victories.

Low Blows

Low blows are perhaps some of the most dangerous cheap shots. A low blow is any punch that falls below the belt line.

Low blows are very painful, and pro fighters use this tactic to get their opponents off their game.

A fighter gets three warnings before they get the point deduction. Many pro boxers know this, and they make the most of the cheap shots before the last warning.

Some fighters are so good at it that they rarely get warnings as they make it look unintentional.

The Rabbit Punch

A rabbit punch is a blow at the back of the head, the bottom part of the head, or at the back of the head. It is a very dangerous blow that may lead to death.

Rabbit punches happen accidentally at times, but pro boxers also use them to inflict damage on their opponents. A fighter gets three warnings before they reach the point deduction for a rabbit punch.

Foot Stepping

Almost every fighter uses this tactic as it is hard to spot and not so lethal to grab unnecessary attention.

It is a tactic used to ground the opponent as you throw punches.

Boxers go on the full attack to impose maximum damage on the opponent before the opponent gets the chance to break free from the footstep.

Boxers step on their opponent’s toes or foot to upset their footwork and to knock them off balance. It is a very successful dirty tactic.


Head-butts are illegal in most, if not all, boxing associations worldwide. However, most fighters still go after their opponents straight with their heads.

For example, Evander Holyfield is the most notable boxer culprit of head-butts.

Head-butting is a tactic many fighters are lucky not to be punished off after they have already inflicted the damage.

They are very dangerous, and they usually create cuts on eyebrows, cheeks, and on the nose. The cost plays well for the oppressor as the judges see as if he is the more lethal fighter.


Holding or clinching is against the rules in boxing. Many professional boxers, for their unknown reasons, believe the rules are meant to be broken, and therefore, hold their way to victory.

Holding is one of the most illegal tactics used in boxing mostly as a survival technique.

Boxers clinch on their opponents when they are tired and have no other choice.

Holding is also used as a tactic to stop an onslaught, especially from aggressive punchers. Holding breaks the opponent’s momentum and gives some breathing space from the punches.

There are those professional boxers who hold excessively throughout the fight that they get the point deductions but still manage to pull off a surprise punch that knocks out their competitors.

Other boxers hold on to ropes in a clinch when they are too tired to maintain a hold.

Holding the ropes wins them some breathing space, and they can come back from the hold with some energy and gain some points.

Masters of holding are many, but Ali with his behind the head holding tactic is a good example.

Check out: Basic boxing combinations

Holding and Hitting

boxer knocked out

The holding and hitting tactic is also known as the jab and grab or grab and jab. It is illegal to catch an opponent during a fight more so hit him while you hold.

Klitschko uses this tactic a lot, and it helped him win his games.

Jab and grab involve a fighter throwing a couple of punches at the opponent and immediately getting into a hold.

This tactic ensures the fighter inflicts damage on the opponent and at the same time, takes a breather and prevents a counter attack.

Many pro boxers use the hold hitting tactic whereby they throw a couple of punches while engaging in a hold before the referee breaks.

The punches don’t have much power but have considerable effects on the opponent especially in the final rounds.

Ignoring the Bell

The bell rings to indicate the end of a round in boxing. Any punches after the bell are illegal and do not gunner points.

Boxers know this, but many still choose to ignore the rule and throw a couple more punches after the bell.

Dirty fighters ignore the bell and punch their opponents before the referee breaks them to their respective corners.

The punches don’t gain points but inflict some damage to the opponent and may disadvantage him or her coming into the next round.

Some boxers have knocked out opponents after the bell with extra punches. These punches don’t count, but they demoralize the opponent, especially those that are mentally weak.

Thumbing and Lacing 

When throwing a punch, boxers should have their fists folded at times. It is illegal to throw a punch with an open fist as the inside palm of the glove is laced. The laces may scrap a fighter’s face.

Pro boxers use the open fist as a tactic to win bouts. They hit with the inside glove using the laces and stitching to open up a cut or worsen a wound suffered during the fight.

As a result, the big cut will force the medics or referee to stop the fight.

The use of thumbs is an attack used by pro boxers. Boxers open their fists when throwing a punch and stick a thumb in the opponent’s eye.

This blinds the opponent and renders him visually disadvantage.

The oppressor may take advantage and go for the knock out before the opponent recovers from the thumb.

The tactic is, however, becoming to use as new gloves are limiting hand movements.

Faking Blows

Some cunning fighters pretend to suffer from illegal blows and play victim to the referee.

This is common especially when the boxer feels disadvantaged or not at his best.

Many fighters fake the low blows even when the shot is above the belt line. Others even fake shots to the back of the head which is an illegal punch.

Faking blows plays to the advantage as the opponent has deducted points after several warnings against the ‘illegal blows’ he or she has landed. Faking blows is a tactic used by many known boxers such as Floyd Mayweather.

The Push or Shove

olympic boxers in action

Boxing rules do not allow pushing during a fight. Fighters should go straight on with fists without shoving or pushing.

However, during a match, it is common to see boxers pushing their opponents.

Pushing knocks the opponent off balance and increases chances of a knockout if the push is followed up with a couple of hard shots.

Boxers also use a shove as a survival measure when the opponent is attacking to munch. It gives them the space to move away from the punches.

Pushing and shoving often comes with little warning, so most fighters take advantage.

Body blocking may also be included in this category.

Some boxers lean on their opponent’s chests and use their shoulders to push the opponent and throw some punches when the opponent comes back at him.

The Trip 

This tactic is not very common, but some cunning fighters are tricky enough to sneak a trip on their opponent.

Tripping the opponent will make him or her loose balance, and if the boxer follows it with some shots, it might knock down the opponent and luckily count as a knockdown.


Doping is probably the dirtiest trick to use in boxing. It is hard for boxers to get away with this tactic as they are subject to tests before and after bouts. 

However, some fighters and their supporting team are smart enough to hide illegal drugs during inspections.

There is also the controversial tactic of bribing. There are rumors or suspicions that some pro boxers use ‘gifts’ to influence the outcome of their fights.

They offer materials or monetary gifts or services to influence important decision makers in their respective fights.


Boxing as a sport has rules to be followed by competitors. Failure to follow the rules leads to penalties and fines.

However, some professional fighters are finding ways to bend the rules.

There are other illegal techniques boxers use, but the above are the primary and most common dirty fighting: tactics used by pro fighters in the world of boxing.

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