Boxing’s Best to the Body Revisited
By Andrew Garewal: Due to the large response and comments, I have decided to update the list to try and capture a consensus list. I have removed the rankings and will allow you all to comment on who you believe is the best. This list is composed of active fighters who are at or nearing their prime. You may believe some great boxers should be on here for their body work from the past, such as Miguel Cotto or Floyd Mayweather.
Well, Mayweather’s best display of body punching was last decade against Diego Corrales, and Miguel Cotto hasn’t thrown a body shot with bad intentions in three years. This list is composed of fighters still employing their body snatching tactics, and standout commitment to the damage their opponent’s frame.
One critical part to the sweet science is the use of body shots. Hooks to the body can crack ribs, tear organs and expose a fighter upstairs. Straights and crosses are critical in setting up combinations to the head and establishing distance and strategy. Not only do body shots wear down an opponent, but it also limits the power and output which they can produce in later rounds. Among fighters today, a few standout for their prolific attack to the opponent’s guts. This is my list of current top body punchers.
Lucas Matthysse 33(31)-2, Light Welterweight
Still, my personal number 1. Arguably one of the best body punchers today is Lucas Matthysse. Matthysse keeps a constant commitment to turning over rough left hooks to his opponents body. A prime example is his relentless attack to the frame of DeMarcus Corley. Corley went down nine times throughout their bout, mostly from vicious left hooks just at or below the ribs. Though Corley was an outclassed opponent, Matthysse has committed to delivering to the body in all of his fights.
His controversial losses against Devin Alexander and Zab Judah were full of great body punching. Many thought he would be outmaneuvered and out-boxed in these matchups, but Matthysse brought the fight to his opponent and in my opinion won both of these fights by slowing his opponents down with body work. Matthysse’s camp once claimed he had floored every opponent he has faced. I have yet to find footage or records which can refute the claim. Matthysse is my top body puncher today, and his upcoming fight with another good body puncher in Lamont Peterson has potential for a fight of the year.
Bernard Hopkins 53(32)-6-2 , Light-Heavyweight
Bernard Hopkins is now officially the all-time ageless warrior. A brilliant tactician who has made ample use of body punching. His KO of Oscar De La Hoya via left liver shot warrants inclusion on this list alone. However, it is Bernard’s ability to completely expose his opponents and incorporate a balanced approach in the ring which have made him a perennial master of his craft. Though he has often criticized himself for throwing few flurries and combinations, when he does commit to the body, it is as if he lifts his opponents off the ground with his force. This list was originally meant to include young hungry up and comers and fighters who will be around for a while. Who is going to argue against including Bernard?
Juan Manuel Marquez 55(40)-6-1 Welterweight
A Real and True Boxing fan once said that Marquez “hooks to the body can crack ribs, tear organs and expose a fighter upstairs”. I wonder where he was able to find such a way with words? In any case, he is correct, Juan Manuel Marquez displays a brilliant body attack. Though we typically consider Marquez more of a counter puncher, he is excellent at exposing his opponent’s under carriage. Only take a look at his most recent fight against Manny Pacquiao to see his style on display. Their third fight was painful to watch, viewers were yearning for some action. In the fourth fight, both fighters knew they had to bring a lot more activity, and in doing so, Marquez employed a genuine body attack which aided in opening up Manny to big blows. Marquez belongs on the list, as he is a master of the “Mexican Liver Shot”.
Guillermo Rigondeaux 11(8)-0 , Super Bantamweight
It’s hard for me to place someone on this list with only 11 fights under his belt. But in Rigondeaux defense, the competition is real light in the Super Bantamweight division, no pun intended. However, Guillermo Rigondeaux possesses lighting fast speed and fights like a true short fighter should, delivering great body work. Though his best punch in my opinion is his overhand/straight left, I have yet to see another fighter pump out such crisp, quick and painful shots to his opponent’s body. It’s difficult to really notice all of the work he does as he has amazing speed and is very elusive, but Rigondeaux will expose whatever an opponent presents to him. In a month we will be treated to an excellent bout between Rigondeaux and Nonito Donaire, quite possibly the biggest match of their respective careers. Look for Rigondeaux to utilize the body to try and achieve victory.
Saul Alvarez 41(30)-0-1, Super Welterweight
Canelo maintains a balanced approach to all of his fights. One only needs to be reminded of the outstanding body shots he delivered to Josesito Lopez which knocked him out of their fight. Mosley, a great body puncher himself felt the sting of numerous hooks to the body during their fight as well. Though Canelo is criticized for his lack of footwork and speed, he has managed to take a balanced approach to stalking and destroying his opponents. Canelo’s punching technique is a thing of beauty, his body shots thud their opponent with accuracy and authority.
In his next matchup with Austin Trout, Canelo will need to stay committed to the body against the pure boxer to establish himself as the victor. It should be a great fight, and look for Canelo to put his body punching prowess on display.
Gennady Golovkin 25(22)-0, Middleweight
Though he is criticized as untested by boxing elite, Golovkin has put together the highest KO ratio in Middleweight history. Golovkin is another stalker in the ring who hunts down his opponents and delivers a balanced approach. His fight against Gabriel Rosado was one sided and bloody. The sight of Golovkin’s blood soaked white trunks and blood spraying off the face of Rosado was brutally entertaining. Yet it’s easy to forget that Golovkin established himself to the body early on in the fight to open up Rosado’s defense. One could argue that Golovkin’s body punching has significantly attributed to his stunning KO rate, and his status on the way to becoming a Middleweight champion.
Sergio Martinez 50(28)-2-2, Middleweight
Though we typically think of Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez as a brilliant counter-puncher and ring technician, his body work plays a significant role in his ring strategy. His fight against Julio Caesar Chavez Jr. is one such example. Throughout the bout, Sergio delivered numerous crosses and jabs to the body of Chavez to establish range. Sergio knew he couldn’t stand toe to toe with Chavez, and constantly kept him on his heels by out maneuvering and out-boxing him. Utilizing the left straight allowed Sergio to move around and create angles to deliver combinations, all the while Chavez couldn’t set his feet to throw his signature heavy handedness. Some will argue Chavez Jr. should belong on this list, but due to his failure in establishing himself in the fight unlike the fighter’s mentioned above, he warrants no place among them.
There are numerous other fighters who deliver great body work. Those of the past such as Chavez (Sr), Roy Jones, Mickey Ward and Joe Frazier were masters of their craft. Personally, my favorite body snatcher of all time is Mike Tyson. This list is composed based off my opinion, but I am interested to hear your comments and opinions on your favorite body punchers as well.