A southpaw fighter is a fighter who leads with their right hand and right leg forward. This is the normal stance for any left-handed fighter.
The southpaw stance is the less common fighting stance with most fighters adopting the orthodox stance.
The orthodox stance mirrors the southpaw stance with fighters leading with their left hand and left leg.
Being a southpaw fighter gives you a distinct advantage, this being that most orthodox fighters will not have fought a southpaw before thus giving the southpaw not only a mental advantage but a tactical one.
As aforementioned, the southpaw stance gives a great tactical advantage over the more commonly used orthodox stance. The stance gives an advantage due to the opponent having to adapt to fight an opponent who is fighting with a stance outside of the norm.
In any fight even a short lapse in judgment can result in a loss so having to constantly think of a new approach to fight a southpaw fighter can cause many to have a momentary lapse in concentration.
So why is this not the same for southpaw fighters when fighting against an orthodox opponent? Simply it is down to the training.
Orthodox fighters will mainly learn against orthodox fighters, southpaw fighters will also train against orthodox fighters meaning in a fight they won’t have the same issues that the orthodox fighter will have due to the years of training against the mirror style.
Due to this advantage some orthodox fighters will practise in the southpaw stance and become more familiar with the style.
Despite the style suiting left handed fighters more than orthodox many lefties will still be taught in the orthodox style due to the lack of southpaw fighters.
Left handed fighters who use the orthodox stance will benefit from having a very powerful jab as their leading arm is their strongest. Some examples of fighters who use this style are Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto.
The right handed fighters who adopt the southpaw also benefit from leading with their strong arm whilst also benefiting from the lack of experience most fighters have against the stance.
The major flaw of the southpaw stance is due to leading with the right side of your body which leaves your liver vulnerable to being hit.
Perhaps the most famous southpaw is Bruce Lee. Being a right hander, Lee decided to go against his natural stance of orthodox and adopt the southpaw stance.
Bruce Lee stated that he believed that his strong side should be in front, as a streetfighter the fight may be over in seconds, this requires fast reactions due to the fight being up close and direct.
Known as the greatest southpaw fighter of all time, ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler had a record that almost seems insurmountable, a staggering 62 wins 52 knockouts to only 3 losses. He defended his middleweight title 12 times during an era stacked with talented boxers.
Hagler was so talented that he could switch seamlessly between southpaw and orthodox whenever he wanted. Hagler would retire after a controversial loss to Sugar Ray Leonard. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1993.
Pernell ‘Sweet Pea’ Whitaker is debatably the greatest defensive fighter of all time. Not only was he known for his mastery of defensive boxing he was also considered one of the best lightweights of all time and his record of 40 wins and 4 losses certainly backs up those claims.
Pernell won gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games. He was also a four weight world champion.
Manny Pacquiao burst onto the scene in 2001 when he caused a massive upset by beating Lehlo Ledwaba in a fight televised on HBO, Pacquiao had only taken the fight on two weeks notice making the feat all the more impressive.
From this fight Manny would not slow down and would go on to record eight world titles making him a big attraction around the world. He was known for his blistering speed and his explosive power.
He would take part in the fight known as the ‘Fight of the Century’ when he fought Floyd Mayweather Jr. The hotly anticipated fight was hyped up due to the fight being the most explosive puncher against the best defensive fighter.
The fight was described as disappointing with many blaming Floyds defensive style. Mayweather would win the fight via unanimous decision.
His outstanding record of 62 wins with an impressive 39 knockouts and only 8 losses has him as a sure fire for the Hall of Fame.
He had to be in this list didn’t he. ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor is perhaps the most famous UFC fighter in the sport’s history. The southpaw has many incredible feats such as knocking out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds.
The first ever double champion in UFC history with a record of 22 wins to 6 losses, of those fights 19 were knockouts. The Irishman used the southpaw style to become one of the most lethal strikers in the sport.
He is more famed now for incidents outside the Octagon but UFC purists will always remember ‘Mystic Macs’ feats that brought the sport to a previously unknown level of popularity.
Some other greats of the UFC world who use the style are Anderson Silva, Nick Diaz and Israel Adesanya.
The southpaw style has been used by many fighters who used the stance to write their name into the fighting history books.
The stance has its major flaw in leaving the liver exposed but the advantages of the style can outway this flaw which has been shown by the famed southpaws listed above.
Southpaws need to utilize the style to maximize the lack of familiarity most fighters have with the style. There were many more incredibly successful fighters we did not get round to listing both in the boxing and mixed martial arts worlds.
If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy our article on ‘How To Strengthen Wrists For Boxing‘.