Comprehensive Guide to Overhand in Boxing

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The overhand right inarguably is the most powerful punch in boxing. Due to the movement and change of angle, an overhand punch has a sheer knockout power.

Though most power punches such as the cross or hooks carry considerable knockout power, the overhand right is always considered to be a cherry on the top. However, the problem with this move is that unless you master it, you better not bother throwing it in the ring.

Stay tuned, because we’ll learn about the benefits and downsides of overhand punch in boxing within the next 5 minutes.

A combination of a semi-circular and vertical punch thrown using the rear hand.

An overhand is also known as an overcut or drop. By the name itself, we can understand that it’s quite the opposite of that of an uppercut.

An overhand is usually thrown when your opponent is engaging too much in slipping or bobbing. Using the overhand, you have the ability to catch him/her off-guard by dropping your body weight and delivering a raw punch packed with great power.

If you’re wondering why it’s called overhand? It’s because this punch moves over your opponent’s lead hand as opposed to his straight right.

A straight right goes through the guard whereas an overhand moves over the guard. The mechanics of an overhand is similar to baseball, wherein you’re required to wound up before hitting the shots.

With the overhand, you use your hips and shoulders to generate swing which helps gather momentum by building a great amount of velocity and torque. Thus, when your punch connects, it flushes out your opponent.  

Types of Overhand in Boxing

An overhand punch being a mid-range to long-range looping punch is thrown from a rear hand. It’s usually used by orthodox fighters and that’s the reason why the right hand is very popular. An Overhand right is like a Kryptonite for a Southpaw fighter. However, it’s not the only type of overhand, there are four.

The movement and technique behind all these punches are different. As you can see in the figures above, there’s a major difference in regards to the stance, movement, rhythm and overall execution.

An overhand right is vicious because an opponent literally escalates the punch and sinks it on an opponent’s jaw. The other two can be delivered in a normal stance without you trying to launch yourself.

Brawlers love the overhand right since it packs amazing power and potential to knock any boxer out on any given day. Now that we’ve understood the basics about overhand, let’s try and study the intricacies in this technique to improve our technical knowledge about this move.

Techniques to use when to throw an overhand in boxing

In order to throw a proper overhand, your left foot has to move in the same direction as your punch. Thus, if you’re fighting in orthodox stance, then your front foot will move forward and to the left which will match the punch trajectory. 

Part of what makes this punch powerful is the fact that you move your entire body in one direction. This starts with stepping in, shifting weight to your front leg, putting your arm in an arc shape so to get it around the guard of your opponent before sinking it in.

In regards to footwork, the approach differs as some people like to throw an overhand on their back foot while others prefer stepping ahead.

Backfoot: Remember, when you’re on back foot, you maintain a wide stance while throwing the punch which gives you the room to fall back with ease. However, you must roll out as soon as possible once you’ve delivered the punch or else, you’ll get countered.

Front foot: When you transfer your body weight forward, you add more power and force to your punch. The benefit of stepping on front foot isn’t just limited to power but it also helps to keep your feet squared which helps keep up the balance.

Finding Range for Overhand

Regardless of the drill, you should never stop working on the fundamentals. A general rule of thumb is that if you can find your opponent with a jab, you can catch him/her with an overhand as well.

Even in finding the range, the approach might differ. Some boxers like to keep it unpredictable and thus they step in win sharp, crisp and tight punches which helps them land considerable damage with minimum risk.

On the contrary, some like to take risks and go all in. We have seen brawlers like Deontay Wilder throw wide, big and looping punches capable of putting any boxer to sleep.

When finding a range, the most important thing you should know is that long winding overhands can be caught as they are telegraphed. Thus, they can be avoided or countered, especially against taller opponents with more reach. When facing such opponents, try to slip in range before trying this audacious move.  

Importance of timing in Overhand

Without proper timing, an overhand can never be successful. Using an overhand is advisable only when you’re able to unlock your opponent’s defense. Now though you can throw an overhand by looping it over the guard, that’s not the case with an overhand left. That’s the reason why overhand right is a southpaw’s kryptonite.

If you’re an orthodox boxer taking over a southpaw, you can learn from Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manual Marquez. Herein Manny was dominating the bout as was winning it comprehensively until he fell victim to a vicious overhand from his opponent. Now, as much as we’d like to discuss Pacquiao’s mistake, I’d prefer pointing out Marquez’s heroics.

Knowing that he needed something special to put Manny to sleep. Manuel feinted low which lured Manny into dropping his guard. By doing so, Marquez tricked Pacquiao, unlocked his defense and threw a looping overhand which was enough to get the job done.

With that said, we can conclude about the importance of timing in overhand. If you’re an avid watcher these days, you can see Lomachenko often dipping from left to the right in front of his opponents to lure them. Little do they know that he’s loading up and overhand ready to be launched as soon as they take the bait.

Setting up an Overhand

Like I said earlier, a jab is a perfect way to set up your overhand right. It’s a great way to engage your opponent and keep them bothered about what’s in front of them. It’s quite similar to the Lomachenko movement we saw above. Different boxers set up overhand in a different way. For instance, Loma uses body feints and jab while other boxers simply use a standard jab. There are many other ways to set up an overhand, this includes:

Barrel-Rolling

A sneaky way to set up an overhand right. Using the barrel roll technique is quite effective when you’re getting rocked. It’s a defensive move that helps you bait your opponent and then counter with a steaming overhand.

For instance, you wait for your opponent to throw a powerful shot, per se a left hook. As soon as he commits, you duck and go underneath and spring your right hand up while moving in the upward direction catching him/her right on the money.

The fact that your opponent is committed and is in no man’s land, plus you’re in full motion will make this punch all but more effective. The only thing you need to remember is to not duck too much before coming up.

Feinting Overhand

Gennady Golovkin is also well-known for using this combination. He often throws jabs to shell his opponent up and follows it up with a quick and powerful overhand. GGG has mastered this technique to a level where he even feints an overhand just to gauge his opponent.

Once he sees that the opponent isn’t buying the first feint, he throws an overhand for real. (Thus, there’s an unpredictability aspect which an opponent can hardly prepare for. That’s GGG’s rendition of the overhand right, similarly, when you master this technique, you can come up with your own version.)

Resistance as leverage

A great way to get beyond an opponent’s guard is by scooping their lead hand as if you’re pulling a lever. Use their resistance as a setup to catapult yourself towards them as you’re bringing your right hand straight over their scooped left hand which is now defunct. 

Using such techniques can demoralize your opponent and can intimidate them to great extent. (Extra Tip: If you’re an MMA practitioner, you can even land an overhand by feinting a takedown. You can follow suit from Khabib vs McGregor fight where the former rocked the latter by feinting and takedown followed by a vicious overhand).

Short Overhand

When you’re busy closing the distance on your opponent, that’s the right time to sneak in with a short overhand. Just remember, that you’d require to bend your elbows a little more than usual. However, you don’t have to over-loop. Load your overhand on the go and wait for your opponent’s jab. Using a jab is a great way to elicit response from your opponent. Once he/she catches the bait, you can close in and throw the shot overhand.

Wide overhand

A wide overhand is a perfect weapon from a mid-long range. When I talk about overhand, this comes first to my mind. As opposed to shot overhand, you’ll punch from a further distance and thus your elbow will only bend slightly as you throw it. Remember to bend it to a 90-degree angle just before you’re about to land the punch.

Over the jab/hook

The most basic yet the most effective is the one I’ve considered last. It’s brawler’s favorite setup for an overhand. Herein, as soon as you see your opponent’s shoulder move, you can sense an incoming jab or hook. It’s during this time that you throw an overhand right after your opponent makes the move. It’s all about getting the timing right.

Countering using Overhands

Your reflexes are the key

Countering with overhands usually involves baiting your opponent. If you have sharp reflexes, you will do amazingly well with an overhand counter. If you have great reflexes, you can make your opponent throw a jab, once he/she does that, you can slap their hand down and loop an overhand above it.

Keep it unpredictable

To add unpredictability, you can even start slow, so your opponent thinks that you’re attempting a body hook. Using this technique against southpaws will work really well. However, you can also use it as a counter against lead right from an orthodox fighter.

Be patient with the execution

Many times, fighters’ sense that their opponent is uncomfortable with overhands. Thus, they throw an overhand repeatedly thinking that the opponent doesn’t have an answer to it. This is where you can surprise them. Let them throw their overhands and turn one of their attempts into an incredible opportunity.

Duck beneath their overhand and throw your own. This is one of the best ways to rock your opponent and shatter their confidence. Using this technique will help you catch your opponent before they even gather themselves.

If you want to learn about overhand counters in-depth, I’d urge you to study Marcos Maidana. For me, he has the best overhand execution strategy – So good that even Floyd had a difficult time containing it.

Throwing an Overhand in Boxing: Advantages vs Disadvantages

Advantages of Throwing an Overhand

Unpredictability: Since the punch comes from the back, out of your opponent’s line of sight, you can easily catch your opponent.

Powerful: Since you put your entire body in the punch by transferring weight, the entire force translates into the punch which makes it very powerful.

Amazing counterpunch: Against an opponent who likes to keep his/her head still, overhand works perfectly. You can easily put your opponent to sleep with an overhand counter.

With that said, an overhand still is a double-edged sword. Though we’ve just been discussing the technique, the science and its effectiveness thus far. We do have to cover the negative side as well, so you know the risk before you use this punching technique.

Disadvantages of Throwing an Overhand

Telegraphed: Since the overhand comes from the rear end, it does take slightly longer to reach your opponent. Against experienced opponents with good boxing skills, this might not work as they might easily avoid it by moving out of range, closing in or by ducking it.

Counter possibilities: We’ve learned about this before. When you can counter an incoming punch by ducking below, your opponent can do so. Thus, if you’re not crisp and quick enough, your opponent might use your overhand to set up his own overhand right.

Rendering off-balance: If you miss out on executing it to perfection, you might get off-balanced. Since your entire body weight and momentum is behind the punch, if you do miss your target, you’re wide open for an incoming counter.

Fundamentals of an Overhand in Boxing

When you decide to throw an overhand, there are certain dos and don’ts that you must keep in mind. I’ll be presenting this information in a listicle format so it’s easy for you to follow. Let’s start with what you should do when throwing an overhand:

DO’s when throwing an overhand

Arching your elbows

The moment your punch leaves your hips, you should keep your elbows arched at a 90-140 degrees angle based upon how far your opponent is. The farther your opponent, the higher will be the angle. For best connections, try to connect with your opponent when he/she is at 90-110 degrees range from your elbows.

Throwing over your shoulder

An overhand though it starts from the hip level is thrown above your head and the shoulder. It follows a looping motion wherein it rises at first and steeps right before it’s about to land. This makes it much difficult for your opponent to sense what’s coming.

Using Peripheral Vision

Your eyes should stay intact and measure your opponent at all times. Your vision is important in tracking the distance. Especially when you’re leaning to either side, just use your peripheral vision to keep a track of your opponent’s location.

Sitting Down on the Punch

By sitting down on your punch, you’re able to generate more power upon elevation. Remember to bend your knees so you’re able to throw a devastating punch. Sitting down not only adds power but it also adds stability.

Leaning Outside before punching

By leaning outside when throwing an overhand right, you’re able to put more weight into that punch. For an orthodox fighter, the leaning should be done towards the left side. Using this technique will also help you prevent counters.

Pivoting Your Back Foot

I’ve already talked about it at the start. If you do want to increase the punching power of your overhand, you should pivot your back foot when throwing the punch. We have learned in our taekwondo tutorials about how pivoting can help generate more power and offer stability.

Don’ts when throwing an overhand

Executing when too close

If your opponent isn’t in a mid-range, don’t even try to execute the punch. In close range, landing an overhand is next to impossible. Yes, you can create space by stepping back but unless you create the distance, don’t think of throwing an overhand.


Executing out of range

Quite the opposite of what we learned above. When you’re out of the range, throwing an overhand won’t make sense as you won’t reach your opponent. And when you don’t reach your opponent, not only do you not connect but leave yourself susceptible to counters. Against a southpaw, you might end up off-balanced and can be countered easily.

Loading the overhand

When loading up the punches, ensure you don’t telegraph them. Keep em’ low key. Don’t give any indication that you’re about to throw an overhand. A simple way to avoid this is by not cocking your arm backward – A major sign that you’re loading an overhand.

Leaning too far

Again, it’s a point similar to ducking too down. You shouldn’t overdo anything when you want to execute the punches to perfection. For instance, if you lean too far to the outside of the lead foot, you risk getting off-balance. Similarly, don’t tilt your body so much that all your weight comes on your front foot, it’s capable of causing serious damage and at the very least lead you off-balance.

Mastering the Overhand in Boxing

The truth about overhand is that not many boxers have the will to throw it. Pure boxers refrain from it because it’s a difficult punch to land. To get the overhand right, you first need to overcome the first hurdle – An incoming attack. Thus, only boxers who are great at reading their opponents are comfortable with using overhand. Not to forget, improper execution of an overhand can result in a probable knockout.

Few of the boxers that you must follow to develop this technique include Lucas Matthyse, Brandon Rios, Lomachenko, Gennady Golovkin and most importantly Marcos Maidana. If you’re a counterpuncher, this has to be the most effective technique in your arsenal. Use it sparingly but to great effect.

As for overhand drills, try using a tear-shaped heavy bag such as maize bag. If not that, you can also use conventional heavy bags to sharpen your skills and improve your power. Personally, I prefer the maize bag for overhands. Lastly, please work on your foot positioning as well to add additional power.

Conclusion

An overhand is a dangerous punch, both for yourself and your opponent. If you get it right, you can possibly knock him/her out but if you don’t, you’re in deep trouble. Thus, keep your guard up and use the technique sparingly. Try not to telegraph the punch and don’t lean or duck too much.

Set up is extremely important and thus take your time practicing the drills and studying boxers who are amazing at throwing overhand. I hope I’ve shared enough knowledge which can catapult you towards throwing a knockout worthy overhand punch.