Boxing is the popular martial art of the common man on the street in the Western world. It involves using the fists to punch the opponent, and not much defensive technique beyond evasive manoeuvres.

In the ring, in a competitive bout, for example when fighting for a belt or even when training, big heavy gloves are typically worn. These big gloves make a simple fist-based guard much bigger, reducing the need for forearm techniques in defence, and making it near impossible to use hands for grappling purposes (which would be against the rules anyway).

Case Study – Mayweather vs Pacquiao

Mayweather v Pacquiao - the best-selling boxing match in history

In the picture above, we see America’s undefeated 5-division champ Floyd Mayweather (left) fighting the Philippines’ defeated but 8 division champ Manny Pacquio.

Both were legends in their own right, although their styles were very different. Mayweather danced (or ran) and clinched (hugged) a lot in defence, to avoid trading blows in standard punching range, while Pacquiao’s defence was all based on attack – he came to the match to fight and wanted to trade blows all the way. One is technical and careful, borderline cowardly, while the other is fierce and powerful, borderline complacent.

This was the highest-earning fight in history, because many backed 8-division champ Pacquiao to defeat undefeated Mayweather while many (especially Americans and Westerners) backed Mayweather due to his undefeated status and clinical approach to boxing. The match ended with a win on points to Mayweather although Pacquiao was essentially fighting with one arm after having been refused a fair injection to numb the pain of the shoulder injury he sustained in training prior to the fight. Mayweather, who picks his fights as carefully as he picks his punching opportunities, backed out of the rematch negotiations.

There you have the two different approaches to boxing – the guy who comes to fight, to be the strongest and most powerful fighter, who is probably also very dangerous with gloves off – and the guy who comes to win the game, the guy who games the rules of the sport, who is competitive but sneaky and exploits every opportunity to attain the status of a winner.