Even if this isn’t your first fight, you might encounter some other fighters that are much more aggressive or intimidating than you. Perhaps you took up fighting just to add to your extracurricular activities and needed a hobby that can also get you into shape.
The fact of the matter is that, especially if you’re not Muhammad Ali, you will run into someone sparring that has more skills and more technical practice than you. You might also face somebody who is tactically more aggressive than you, as well.
Especially when sparring, you might come across someone who has no interest in learning and the basics of a training experience, taking sparring as more of an opportunity to dominate an opponent and create self-confidence.
If you are facing another opponent who is just aggressive in general, or way more aggressive than you, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you hop in the ring and face him.
Here are our top 15 ways on how to fight an aggressive fighter
Practice Makes Perfect
The more comfortable you are with sparring against someone much more aggressive than you, the less it will bother you or intimidate you when you enter in the ring for real. The more of these types you take on, the more comfortable you’ll become when it comes to the actual fight. These types of sparring sessions also leave you feeling vulnerable and humble, which might not be a bad thing.
Sitting in the easy chair in your comfort zone won’t get you better either. Of course, everyone is different in this regard, depending on your goal, but try to push yourself to be better by facing more difficult opponents.
Start With a Good Defense
In almost every sequence that you will take part in will begin with a defensive guard. An aggressive fighter is most likely to attack and keep attacking until he or she cannot anymore. If you work on your guard as soon as you step into the ring, you’ll be ready to stick it through until the end of all their combination hits and you can be free to perform a counter-strike.
However, when you are posting up with a defensive guard, make sure that you always have a good visual vantage point on your opponent. If you are too busy covering your entire face and your entire line of vision, you can really lose when it’s time to pull the counter-strike. If you cannot see and try to counter at the wrong time, you’ll regret it because you have immediately lowered your defenses.
Mentality is Half the Battle
Fighting a more aggressive boxer than you, or in general, a better boxer than you, you have to learn to hit him where it hurts. It could be even that after a few minutes, the boxer is aware that they’re so much better than you. That is the exact moment where you should show them that you’re not. Even if you know they are a lot better than you, you might beat them mentally.
Winning a mental battle can mean various strategies. For example, you can annoy them, you can frustrate, or even steal rounds. Although you may think this is for television, it definitely has to have an effect on the fighters when they spend the weeks prior to their fights trash talking one another. This is part of the mental game.
You can even take it one step further and get a bit more confidence, present your opponent to either believe your act and give you some respect (which is where you should strike), or they will take an offensive approach. We, of course, are hoping that it will help you get some respect in your fight.
Identify Your Opponent’s Intention
You already know that they’re there to win, that’s not too difficult to figure out. But knowing some background on your opponent won’t ever hurt. Whether you are studying their favorite moves and habits or going to mimic what their opponents have done in the past to beat them, or even avoiding their mistakes when they were beaten, doing some research beforehand is important in any type of sport in any type of preparation.
The first step in getting to know your opponent, especially if you already know that he or she’s aggressive, is to find out what kind of aggression you’re going to be dealing with.
For example, there are two different types of aggressive fighters. Although both of them can be labeled as a pressure fighter, they both have separate conceptualized reasons of why and how they are what they are.
Your opponent can either be a skilled pressure fighter or an inexperienced fighter.
These skilled pressure fighters are a worse threat than an amateur because they have mastered the art of aggression. They know when to attack and when to back up. They know how to play mental games and hit you where it hurts. A skilled pressure fighter will keep you on your toes and alert the entire fight, not only because of their aggression but because every move is calculated, which gives you the opportunity to be able to try and figure out their next strike.
The inexperienced fighter can be more of a nuisance than intimidating. These types of aggressive fighters come out swinging, rushing ahead merely on adrenaline, excitement or fear. They will be less likely to be in touch with tactics, and if you just stay strong on defense for a little while, they will grow soon weary and tired of punching and then you can counter when they finally let their guard down. Their punches will also get weaker as they go along because they don’t have much control of their strength and power because they aren’t as disciplined.
Identify Your Opponent’s Style
Yes, you might know he’s an aggressive fighter. You might have seen him spar hundreds of times in the gym. But to prepare yourself to fight against him, you need to know what type of aggressive fighter he is.
There are plenty of different styles when it comes to being an aggressive fighter.
Your opponent can strategize their attack from either being a knee fighter, a clincher, a puncher, a low kicker, or “elbower”. These several fighting styles are pretty self-explanatory, but we can describe them a little bit more so you have an idea.
A knee fighter attacks the knees to achieve high points and obviously get their opponent imbalanced. They use aggression and always press the attack, the majority of the time.
A clincher is someone who uses their aggression to eliminate your best strategy. For example, if you are a good puncher, clinchers when approach you as fast as they can to be able to keep you from doing what you do best. Clinching is a type of standing hold that keeps your opponent from kicking or punching.
Punchers have a pretty easy-to-figure-out definition. These are the aggressive fighters that use their hands and fists to get the best of you. Their combinations are deadly and never seem to end.
Low Kickers use their feet and legs to beat you by your feet and legs. These low kickers can easily find their way onto the ground without getting pinned to it, so if you see these fighters going low, be warned, their kick is their strongest weapon.
“Elbowers” want nothing more than to pop one on your face. These types of aggressive fighters are dangerous, especially if you get them in a clinch, but you’re unfortunately behind them.
Keep Up With Your Fitness
With an aggressive fighter, you’ll be dealing with someone in your face the entire time, regardless if they just landed a hit or not. The sheer intimidation and hunting attitude might get you tired from just the stress of it all. However, if you control the things you can control, such as your fitness, you will be giving yourself the best chance of fighting a fair fight and possibly coming out the other end as a winner.
Your aggressive opponent might be a lot more technical or tactical than you, but since they rely on their aggressiveness or their skills to win a fight, they might not be so focused on their endurance. They rely instead on their aggressive nature to tire you out of blocking, being able to land their hit when you give them an opening.
If you keep working on your cardio, you can fight against them. Even the most experienced, aggressive fighters will get tired at one point, and that’s where you make your move.
Know Their Weak Points
Aggressive fighters come to win at all costs. When pressure fighters and amateur fighters come at you, again and again, and again, they usually fall “victim” to many hits in the fights, from repercussions of being too close to their opponent at all times and never insisting on their defensive stand.
The way that these aggressive fighters will win is that they have to inflict more damage than they’ve received. This also means that they’ve taken more blows than you can think of, so are usually more susceptible to having weak points. For example, someone who has been knocked out a lot is definitely more easily opened to it because of the condition and state of their body.
Use Their Aggressiveness Against Them
If you know that they’re going to keep coming at you because of their habits as an aggressive fighter, use it against them. Since they will always be approaching you with momentum, they are probably expecting you to just stay under your guard. However, you can take the forward momentum and act quickly upon it in your favor.
For example, if they are coming on the attack towards you with a lot of motivation behind their movements, you can take their excitement or over-exaggerated aggression, allow them to shoot underneath you and then immediately pounce to secure a takedown.
You can also meet them halfway on their aggressiveness, catching them with the element of surprise. You know that they will be closing in on the distance between you and them in no time. But instead of waiting for them to lunge completely towards you and cover the distance in a few steps, you can meet them on the way — with a plan. Throw your shoulder into them, using it as a weapon. Once you’ve hit them with that, you can begin your jabbing combination. The shoulder into their ribs will definitely catch them by surprise.
Let Go of Fear
Whether you are sparring for practice or heading into a fight, you have to release all kinds of fear that you have about getting injured. Unfortunately, chances are that you’ll probably get banged up a bit. Sparring and fighting mean that you will be making physical contact with one another. The unexpected or uncontrolled is the worst threat in place here, but if you keep a cool head and try to read your aggressive opponent as much as possible, you’ll set yourself up for the best chance to come out less scathed than you normally would.
You should head into a spar or fight knowing that chances are, you will probably get hurt in some way or another. Having said that, you can implement a lot of different things in your training regimen that can counter that fact and give you the best opportunity to not get hurt. Having a stronger body actually helps you absorb blows much better.
Don’t Confuse Aggression With Anger
Being an aggressive fighter means that your opponent will be constantly on the attack. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the fighter is just angry or that he is mad at you. This factor alone, if you wrap your head around it, will help you from a mental perspective to approach the fight strategically, tactically and technically, rather than on an emotional basis.
If your opponent is angry and aggressive, this could work out for your benefit. If you are facing a combination of these two attributes, then it could lead your opponent to lose control. This means that they might not think too much before they act or react, which leads them to be less tactically intelligent. It might also mean a chance for you to step in.
Be Repetitive With Your Technique
Their best attribute might be the fact that they are aggressive. Learn what your favorite combinations are that you do well and make them perfect. If you have a few good hits in your back pocket and dish them out when you get the chance, you might have an opportunity to defeat your aggressive opponent.
Hone in on technique before you advance to power, strength, and speed. This will come with time. Once you’ve got all the moves down, even on a subconscious basis, you can them implement the other attributes to become the best fighting version of you.
Tell Him to Lighten Up
Nobody likes someone that cannot take any hits, especially if they are looking for a challenge, as well. But, especially if you are a beginner, sparring can become a great opportunity for you to learn by experience. However, if you are heading into the ring with a guy who is looking to pummel you, you won’t be getting much out of it, maybe just seeing how well your defense stance works.
Don’t be afraid to speak up and let the guy know what your intentions are heading into the spar. Of course, don’t back down either, but if it’s obvious that he is a lot more aggressive or better than you, maybe it’s time for you to speak up for yourself and ask him to let up a bit.
Find Your Mistakes and Cover Your Tracks
If you’re looking at the ground and lowering your head, you won’t be able to see where your opponent is. Find your own weaknesses. After the sparring or fight, you can even let your ego down a bit and ask the opponent or bystanders what they saw when it came to why you “lost” the spar.
Maybe others can point out what you could not see yourself. This will help you identify the mistakes you’re making on a regular basis so that you can go back and work on correcting them for the next fight.
Don’t Be Afraid to Be Cold-Blooded, Too
Preparing for a fight by sparring also won’t get you anywhere if either of you are not going too hard. Sparring helps challenge you in finding your weaknesses before you head into the ring with someone who possibly isn’t so friendly. Heading into a spar with a cold, calm, and collective mindset, you can be ready for any aggressive fighter. Even practicing being aggressive while sparring can help.
Turning the tables on aggressiveness will not only catch them by surprise while they’re fighting you, it also might catch you by surprise, too.
An aggressive fighter will use all kinds of tactics and push you to doubt yourself and your skill set. Try to keep a cool head and focus on what you do well. If you need to resolve to mental tactics, then so be it. This is your opportunity to learn what works out best for you and then you can keep a mental note of it when you are again up against an aggressive fighter.
Keeping focus even when you are just sparring can help you get prepared for the ring, as well. The focus and mentality you’ll gain if you take sparring seriously will help encourage the attitude you need for a fight. Instilling intimidation to your opponent can also be done in a various amount of ways, an insane amount of focus is one of them.
Fighting against an aggressive fighter, especially if it is for the first time can surely be intimidating. However, boxing is primarily a learning process. You will learn not only from your mistakes and, well, injuries but also from your opponents. Even if they refuse to talk to you about your weaknesses after the fight, you can remember when, where, and how they got you. Being able to identify some weak points in your game can help you specifically focus on the things you need to work on and help you transform yourself into an overall better fighter.
Adapting your style and making it more controlled and aggressive can also help you in the long run. Don’t fear an aggressive fighter. Approach him or her with a cool head, keep collected and focused, and you’ll be alright. Another point to remember is that, especially if you’re a beginner, you don’t have to act tough or act like you know everything, everyone knows you don’t. Be humble and learn with every experience and learn from every aggressive opponent you encounter.