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Orthodox Vs. Southpaw Boxing Stance: Find The Perfect Stance

The boxing stance acts as the foundation for building a boxer's career; thus, it is the most crucial element in the learning experience of a beginner. The boxing stance varies from person to person depending upon their comfort; thus, copying the stance of your favourite player is never going to be helpful. Instead, one has to figure out the stance that enriches their strengths rather than their weaknesses.

To face a southpaw is an awkward task for any orthodox boxer, but it's not insurmountable so long as they are well-drilled in the awkward angles that the southpaw stance represents before they meet. However, one issue which can't be addressed is that the southpaw will always be more comfortable fighting orthodox opponents than vice-versa.

While the orthodox boxer can spar with southpaws and familiarise themselves as best they can with how to attack and defend effectively against a lefty, the southpaw, in contrast, has always worked with right-handed fighters in the gym.

Do many beginner boxers wonder what the better fighting stance is, orthodox or southpaw? This question is often asked in mixed martial arts circles, as many MMA fighters are seen using different stances. In short, one stance isn't better than the other. Both the orthodox and southpaw sides can be used effectively in boxing and combat sports. What is important for any fighter is that they are comfortable in their stance.

In boxing, the lower and upper bodies have to work in tandem to strike a blow. While it may seem to be all about the punches, boxing footwork plays a large role in a fighter's performance: if you have the footwork down, you can float around the ring and sting like a bee. Every boxer's journey begins with learning form and proper stance. After that, it comes down to Southpaw or Orthodox, and most fighters stay faithful to only one of these stances throughout their career.

While most boxers opt to stick to one stance, a few like to mix things up. They are called switch-hitters because they frequently shuffle back and forth between orthodox and southpaw to give opponents different looks. Switch-hitters realize many different advantages to their unique style.


Simply put, southpaws have infinitely more experience against orthodox fighters than vice versa. Their advantage in being a southpaw often allows them to win fights even though they may be slower, weaker, and even less skilled.


As many as 17.3 per cent of male boxers were left-handed, higher than expected as just 12.6 per cent of males are left-handed in the general population. The same was seen in female boxers. The study said 12.6 per cent of them were left-handed, compared to 9.9 per cent of females in the general population.


An Unorthodox Boxing Stance is any stance that doesn't routinely follow the conventions of an Orthodox Stance. Southpaw is the most common and polarized example of this, so much so that it may be regarded as a convention of its own.


Supposedly, late 19th-century ballparks were laid out so that the pitcher looked westerly when facing the batter. The throwing arm of a left-handed pitcher would then be to the south-hence the name southpaw.


Orthodox VS Southpaw Boxing Stance: What Is The Difference?

First and foremost, the orthodox boxer must be suitably prepared for a battle of foot placement throughout the fight. Regardless of whether the southpaw is genuinely left-handed or a converted southpaw (a right-handed boxer who fights from the southpaw stance), he will always lead with his right foot, placing it outside the orthodox boxer's left foot. If the orthodox don't contest the foot placement and merely comes forward in straight lines, they risk walking into a straight left hand. 

To make matters worse, while the southpaw can land shots with both hands for as long as they hold the outside advantage, the orthodox fighter is reduced to finding suitable angles with which to land shots with his leading left hand. This situation doesn't change – unless the orthodox opponent moves to the left, placing their left foot outside the southpaw's right foot. At this point, the orthodox fighter has the advantage for as long as they remain outside. As a result, they can land with either hand, and the southpaw cannot trade effectively.

Before we discuss how boxers can benefit from the different stances and how to excel fighting from an orthodox or southpaw stance, let's discuss what they are in the first place.

What Is a Southpaw Boxing Stance?

The left-handed boxer should practice the Southpaw boxing stance that requires leading the right foot in front with the right hand. This is just the mirror image of the orthodox boxing stance that is comparatively less effective.

However, the Southpaw boxing stance can sometimes scare away the opponents who mostly play orthodox boxing as the punch directions are pretty unpredictable. The goal behind keeping the weaker section of the body close to the opponent is to produce maximum energy from the lead hand that cannot be achieved by keeping it in front.

A southpaw boxer should position the arms such that the left armrests on the body, the left fist is directly under the chin, and the right fist, bent at the elbow, is positioned in front of the right shoulder at shoulder height. Your left shoulder must be slightly lowered, your right shoulder is slightly raised, and your chin rests in the cavity formed by your right shoulder and breast.

What Is an Orthodox Boxing Stance?

The orthodox stance is much more common. In the orthodox stance, the boxer or fighter fights with their left foot forward, their left hand as their lead hand (or jab hand). The right hand is the orthodox fighter's backhand. Orthodox fighters are typically more aggressive than southpaws and throw more combinations.

In the orthodox stance, the arms are in the best position when the right arm is resting on the body, the right fist is directly next to the chin, and the fist of the left arm, bent at right angles at the elbow, is positioned in front of the left shoulder at shoulder height. The basic position is correct when the right shoulder is slightly lowered, the left shoulder is slightly raised, and the chin is placed in the cavity formed by the shoulder and the breast.

Which Boxing Stance Should I Use? Orthodox Or Southpaw?

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To decide the boxing stance, you need to use it; firstly, you need to find your dominant hand. It is pretty rare, but some people write with their right hand but have a more substantial left hand; therefore, you need to find the stronger one of the two. A second way to find your stance is by finding the dominant eye; if your right eye is dominant, then lead the left hand and vice versa.

The dominant eye allows you to have a clearer view of your strong hand in the back while throwing punches at your opponent. The most excellent way to discover your dominant eye is by holding one finger up in the air and covering it with an object far away. Next, you open both eyes one by one and focus the finger in aligning it with the thing. The one that aligns with the object placed far away is your dominant eye.

After determining your dominant hand and eye, you can choose from Orthodox and Southpaw stance, in which you are comfortable. Mostly right-handed boxers use Southpaw stance. You'll also get a good idea about your boxing stance when you're practising. When you practice with a free-standing heavy bag, you throw punches, move here and there. You can also try this when working out with a dummy bag. Then try both Southpaw and Orthodox, and if you notice, you'll feel which is good for you.

Can You Be A Right-Handed Southpaw?

Most elite fighters train both orthodox and southpaw stances. However, depending on which opponent these fighters face, they may choose to use a stance that they are slightly less comfortable with to get the upper hand during the fight. For instance, you may decide to use a southpaw stance if you are going up against an opponent who doesn't have much experience facing southpaw fighters, even if your primary stance is orthodox.

If you are right-handed, it's not going to be easy getting used to the southpaw stance since you will likely have a natural tendency to use an orthodox stance. Therefore, you will need to train your southpaw stance sufficiently to the point that you feel comfortable throwing strikes during actual fights.

Advantages Of The Southpaw Boxing Stance?

One of the main advantages of the southpaw stance is that it throws the opponent off. Right-handed orthodox fighters are typically used to fighting and seeing other orthodox fighters, so they can be thrown off guard when they come across a southpaw. In addition, the orthodox fighter will have to change their game plan regarding how to attack and navigate around the ring, as everything their southpaw opponent does is the opposite of a regular fighter.

Are Southpaws Better Than Orthodox?

It's difficult to say that a southpaw stance is definitively better than an orthodox stance, as this will depend on the opponents you face. A southpaw fighter will have an advantage if they face an opponent unfamiliar with fighting against the southpaw fighter. 

You'll want to choose your fight stance based on the opponent that you face, so it's a good idea to become familiar with both stances. Nonetheless, many people believe a southpaw stance gives a slight edge over an orthodox stance since 90% are born right-handed. In other words, most fighters will be much more used to fighting opponents with an orthodox stance. However, since there are relatively few southpaw fighters, it can also be difficult to find competent sparring partners.

Finding Your Dominant Hand

It is uncommon, but people out there write with their right hand, but the left hand is stronger. In this case, you have to choose what works best for you. Another way to go about it is to find your dominant eye and stand so that your dominant eye is looking down your rear arm when your punch (if the right eye is dominant, but the right hand in the back; and vice versa). 

The easiest way to find your dominant eye is to quickly hold your finger up into the air and cover an object (a lightbulb, a spot on the wall, a faraway tree) with that finger. Next, you take turns closing one eye and leaving the other open. The eye that has the finger lined up perfectly with that object is your dominant eye.

The Benefits Of Fighting Southpaw Boxing Stance

Generally, it is agreed that the Southpaw style is more 'open' than the Orthodox, making the southpaw more comfortably positioned. The closed Orthodox stance means their defence is lacking, while the southpaw's opposite positioning means greater control. Their lead foot can be easily used to distract the Orthodox opponent, making the Orthodox opponent feel they are likely to be tripped.

Southpaws also outperform their Orthodox at long-range punches. They build power in both their left and right hands, doing their jobs better as well while saving their dominant hand for harder punching.

Due to the comparative rarity of Southpaw fighters, they have the advantage in taking their mostly Orthodox opponents by surprise. Moreover, since their movements are so different and most Orthodox' will not have insight into their training, the southpaw will have the upper hand in this regard.

Noteworthy Southpaw Boxers Today

Many of the top boxers today are southpaws. Some of the best pound for pound boxers today that are southpaw include Vasyl Lomachenko, Manny Pacquiao, Oleksandr Usyk, and Terence Crawford. Tyson Fury is a switch hitter (meaning he can box from orthodox and southpaw).

The Benefits Of Fighting Orthodox Boxing Stance

While it may be that your natural dominant hand decides what stance and style of footwork you'll be taking on, both Southpaw and Orthodox do have their own sets of benefits as well.

High-quality training is something to consider for every boxer, and this is where Orthodox fighters have it easier. Due to this being the more popular style (as a greater proportion of the population is right-handed), it's easier for Orthodox fighters to access coaching and resources suited to them. In addition, more coaches will be the Orthodox style themselves and will have an easier time training that type of fighter.

Orthodox fighters will have an advantage in the ring because of the same reason: they'll be more likely to be fighting other Orthodox fighters and so will have a better idea of their movements. This, in turn, helps to fight more intuitively because there's a greater chance you can guess your opponent's next twist or turn.

Another benefit for Orthodox fighters is that punching the liver becomes easier due to their positioning. Their stance gets them closer to their opponent's right side, where the liver is. This is a painful and effective spot to hit hard, so this is an added advantage for this style.

Famous Fighters That Are Orthodox

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali is probably the most famous fighter who used an orthodox stance. He's often regarded as the greatest boxer of all time, and he dominated the sport with his iron chin and speed that resembled lightweight.

Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson is another famous boxer who used an orthodox stance. Although Mike Tyson's career was filled with controversies, no one can deny that he was one of the most feared men on earth in his prime. His punches were so powerful that fans were surprised when he didn't knock out his opponent within a couple of rounds.

How To Decide Which Boxing Stance To Choose?

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While genetics is likely the decisive factor in what you pick up due to the importance of your dominant hand, your stance need not be dictated by whether you are a lefty or a righty. A righty being a Southpaw would mean they have a killer jab due to the power in their dominant hand, and a left-handed Orthodox fighter could see similar success. It depends on what feels more natural or comfortable to you.

Access to training is a big reason why most people lean towards the Orthodox stance. Training is everything, and Southpaw trainers are fewer and far between. Online resources for Southpaws are similarly limited. You may have to decide based on the training available to you.

Why is a good basic stance important?

It cannot be overemphasized how important it is to have a good stance. A good stance will help you attack and defend with balance. An athlete should not lose their balance while throwing a punch. If one is off balance, one is more likely to hit an opponent. You can throw a broader range of powerful punches by standing in an ideal manner without leaving yourself too vulnerable. Getting your basic stance right will give you more strength, balance, and mobility.


The boxer is constantly in motion to solve his tactical ideas to best apply his imagined movement patterns in space and time concerning his opponent. The most important component of agility is footwork, which may be combined with the movement of other body parts. But, all these movements are impossible without the right stance. The conventional boxing stance helps maintain balance and is essential for offensive and defensive techniques.

Boxing Stance and Footwork

As discussed earlier, the left hand and foot play as a lead in an orthodox boxing stance, and the right hand and foot play the information for the Southpaw boxing stance. Thus, the foot movements vary with your stance for ease and comfort.

The feet should be apart for about the length of your shoulder. Next, you have to move the lead leg in the front and place it at a 45-degree angle with the back leg. Finally, the lead leg foot is planted on the ground with the ball of the foot taking the weight of the whole lead leg.

Now, the heel of the back foot is to be taken slightly off the ground to offer mobility to the boxer. The knee of the back foot is bent slightly to improve balance and enhance power. The body's weight should be evenly distributed between the two feet to avoid compromising mobility. However, the boxer needs to switch the bodyweight simultaneously among the two-foot while training in the beginning.

Mistakes to avoid

  • The possibility of getting smacked in the mouth increases when your chin is raised higher than your raised hands.
  • Taking a step where you lose track of the imaginary line connecting the toe of your front foot to the heel of your rear foot, thereby compromising your balance.
  • A heavy front leg makes you more vulnerable to attack because your body weight is transferred to your front leg.
  • Turning the shoulders in such a way as to present a bigger target for the opponent.
  • Being unable to move easily because you are flat-footed.
  • Boxers who lean back too much will lose their balance.
  • Because their feet are anchored to the ground, people with wide stances usually have to jump whenever they want to move.

Final Words

Boxing stance is the most precious jewel for boxers, so it should never be ignored and practised hard for perfection. The best way to improve and review your stance is by examining yourself in the mirror while practising it. But, whatever stance you use, make sure to use proper breathing techniques. This will help you to be a better boxer.


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