Setting Up A Knockdown


The best result a fighter can achieve is a big knockout. One thing in boxing’s well over hundred-year history is clear, the fans love a good knockout. Whether or not the fighter finishes their foe, it is typically the knockdown, rather than the finish, that evokes the ‘ooh’s and ah’s’ from the crowd.

Scoring a knockdown, if the opponent survives or not, is the crow jewel in a boxing match. Not only does it hurt your foe, it gets the fighter an all-important extra point on the scorecards, something that can save an boxer’s chances on the scorecard should they not finish their opponent.



So how do you score a knockdown? For one, you cannot look for it. Many coaches find ways to motivate their fighter to a come-from-behind victory as when a boxer looks for a knockout or knockdown, it typically does not happen.

Instead, sticking to your boxing fundamentals, using the knowledge and ring generalship practiced in the gym is your key to scoring a knockout.


Knockdown by a big right hand
A big right hand straight down the pipe sends a boxer to the canvas


In this article, we look at practices we use everyday in training that can set up your knockdown, should it be closing the show in a big victory or finishing the fight in a comeback win.

Power in Punch

Simple and to the point, to knock someone down you need to hurt them. That said, the power on the shot plays a big factor in successfully scoring a knockdown.

Like punches on the pads and heavy bag, much of your power will be generated from how much weight you can turn on the shot.


Deontay Wilder is one of the most prolific knockout artists in modern times. He has the ability to knock an opponent down with one blow


A strong foundation of the basics gives a boxer this gift. Most fighters are not born with natural punching power but rely on the transfer of their own weight, most commonly shifted from back-foot to front-foot, to have enough punching power to win fights by knockout.

Angle of shot / Opponents Balance

One of the factors of a knockdown is the placement of the shot. This is a combination between where you put yourself in the ring and what angle the punch lands on your opponent.

A large part of being successful in scoring the knockdown is getting your opponent off balance. To achieve this a boxer must take an angle, use footwork to catch your opponent crossing their legs or at an angle that their balance is vulnerable.


Iron Mike Tyson is known for his monstrous punching power and ability to finish fights quickly


Good strategies to achieve this can be fainting and faking punches prior to making your move, as well as taking the position of counter puncher.

Timing opponent and Their Head Movement

It is often said that timing beats speed, for this reason it can also play a big factor in scoring a knockdown. 

A boxer with good punch timing can neutralize a fast or powerful opponent. An integral part of timing an opponent is reading their movement, both downstairs with the footwork and up with head movement.


Head movement is key when trying to avoid power shots


Reading footwork comes from being aware of your own position in the ring while finding the areas your opponent may move when throwing punches or evading punishment. As a boxer develops their ring awareness, they will learn to put their opponents in these positions setting traps or cutting off the ring due to a higher ring-IQ.

In terms of head movement, it is often the punches that fighters shift their own weight into that put them on the mat. To achieve this, a boxer must read the movement of their opponent’s head and upper body. 


Tyson Fury gets knocked down
Deontay Wilder is one of the most voracious power punchers in history


Should your foe continue to move their head from left to right, timing a shot to the head while they are moving into the punch gives the it a double impact; the power of the punch, and the weight shifted by the boxer getting hit themselves.

Creating False Sense of Security

A wise tactic to land a big punch is picking and choosing when to throw your power punches. This gives your opponent a false sense of security, often luring them in to fight a bit more aggressive or confidently leaving them vulnerable to score clean punches against.


Marquez knocks the famed Manny Pacquiao out cold


If a fighter chooses to only throw half their punching power on a right-hand and land that shot more than once, an opponent will be under the impression that is all that is coming back at them.

This will lead an opponent to potentially take more risks. A combination of the punch landing clean and the surprise from not expecting the power in the shot often has the victim looking up at the lights.

Punch Placement and Distance of Shot

It is not just about how hard the punch is, the angle you take, or the quality of the shot. It also does not matter how well a boxer can set up the punch if the result is poor placement of the punch. 

When throwing a big shot, a boxer must have the punch’s destination in mind. The shot must be thrown with purpose. The same punch that has little effect to the forehead may be the punch that scores a knockdown when landed to the jaw or temple.


Knockdown boxing


Punch distance, something taught in the early stages of a boxers training, can also be the difference between an explosive punch and a shot that more resembles a push.

Catching an opponent at the end of a punch is integral in maximizing power. A punch, like a bullwhip is more effective when the power is transferred to the end of the shot. When a boxer punches too close to their opponent, it does not give them the opportunity to turn their weight and often makes the punch become a push.


Andy Ruiz scores a knockdown against World Champion Anthony Joshua


So how do you score a knockdown? One common topic among these strategies and other tools to setup a knockdown is not selling out your fundamentals.

Rather than go looking for a knockdown when either needed or wanted in a fight, use the gifts you have given yourself in training.

Do not overlook to the basics. Every angle, fake, distance adjustment or weight shifted in training will play a part in setting up a knockdown of your own.