THE uppercut is a trademark shot for ‘The Cobra’. You can throw it on the offence, the defence, on the counter, there’s different angles and different ways, if you’re fighting an orthodox or a southpaw.
You have to read what your opponent’s doing – every action causes a reaction. Like when I fought Brian Magee, every time he was coming forward to me he was looking to get his head in, quite dirty, and also he was looking for the grab, especially late on. He was reaching in and leaning over his bodyweight; you’re supposed to have centre of gravity when you box. ‘Keep your arse in the middle,’ is how [trainer] Rob [McCracken] explains it.” So Magee was vulnerable to the uppercut.
1. If your opponent’s leaning forward, let them commit. You can risk getting hit yourself but if your uppercut lands solid it will take the sting out of their blow, so it’s all about landing first. As they commit, it’s about timing it correctly. You take a tiny step – if they’re coming straight forward, you step back, but if they’re coming at you with a shot, you might have to step to the side
2. The punch wouldn’t come from a high guard – it would come from mid-range. The right hand would shoot from the hip, like a gunslinger. You have to drop it to bring it back up so if it’s already low, half the work’s already done. You lean down to your right thigh – if you’re right-handed – and your strength comes up through the calf, the thigh, the lats – the big muscle which drives the uppercut.
3. Everything goes in from the leg up to the arm. The end of the chin is what we’re aiming for. It’s a lot of twisting as you start off almost side-on – you’re driving up almost like a clean and press, driving up from a squat.
1. Robert always tells me, “Don’t throw an uppercut on its own, because you’re out of range, you’re open, they see it coming a mile away,” which they do, especially the good fighters. So now what I do, if I throw the uppercut out of range – and you can only get away with that against mediocre fighters or when they’re knackered – I do what Naseem Hamed used to do – chuck the shot and if you miss, fall in with it, land on top of your opponent, smother your work.
2. You’re looking for them to jab or move or put themselves into a position where they can’t get out of there. A lot of the time, even if they don’t throw a punch, if you think it’s right and you throw a jab, you can do a little feint, a little move – either a step-in, a little head movement or bring your left hand up. You are trying to do anything at all to force them to commit in some way and provide the opening for you.
3. Then just chuck it and it comes through the middle from out of the line of vision. It’s like a corkscrew right uppercut. The weight’s travelling forward and won’t do as much damage – it’s a nuisance punch, not a knockout punch. The ones where they’re coming onto them are the best-executed uppercuts.
1. Up close, you have to have your right glove in front of your face to guard against the uppercut yourself; it has to be under your chin. There’s not massive power on this shot unless you manage to step back before you throw it.
2. You should try and get a little bit of room – ideally you want to be stepping to the right up close – if you’re right-handed – or stepping back because if you’re smothering your work and you’re too close there’s less power in the shot.
3. You can be in the southpaw position up close then step back to orthodox and that automatically gives you room. But it could be a roll, a bob, a weave, a little step back – then the uppercut in close.