There are four generally accepted boxing styles that are used to define fighters. These are the swarmer, out-boxer, slugger, and boxer-puncher. Many boxers do not always fit into these categories, and it's not uncommon for a fighter to change their style over a period of time.
The swarmer (in-fighter, crowder) is a fighter who attempts to overwhelm his opponent by applying constant pressure — taking away an opponent's spacing and timing. Swarmers tend to have a very good bob and weave, good power, a good chin, and a tremendous punch output (resulting in a great need for stamina and conditioning). This style favors closing inside an opponent, overwhelming them with intensity and flurries of hooks and uppercuts. They tend to be fast on their feet which can make them difficult to evade for a slower fighter; or are great at cutting the ring with precise footwork. They also tend to have a good "chin" because this style usually involves being hit with many jabs before they can maneuver inside where they are more effective.Many swarmers are often either shorter fighters or fighters with shorter reaches, especially in the heavier classes, that have to get in close to be effective. Tommy Burns was the shortest Heavyweight champion at 5'7, while Rocky Marciano had the shortest reach at 67-68 inches. One exception is Jack Dempsey, who was nearly 6'1 with a 77-inch reach. Famous swarmers include Henry Armstrong, Carmen Basilio, Nigel Benn, Melio Bettina, Burns, Joe Calzaghe, Julio Cesar Chavez, Steve Collins, Jack Dempsey, Joe Frazier, Kid Gavilan, Gennady Golovkin, Román González, Harry Greb, Emile Griffith, Fighting Harada, Ricky Hatton, Jake LaMotta, Rocky Marciano, Terry McGovern, Sam McVey, Battling Nelson, Bobo Olson, Manuel Ortiz, Floyd Patterson, Aaron Pryor, Alexander Povetkin, Sailor Tom Sharkey, David Tua, Mike Tyson, Micky Ward, Wilfredo Gomez and Mickey Walker.
Most sluggers lack mobility in the ring and may have difficulty pursuing fighters who are fast on their feet. They usually throw harder, slower punches than swarmers or out-boxers and tend to ignore combination punching. Sluggers often throw predictable punching patterns (single punches with obvious leads) which can leave them open for counterpunching. Sluggers can also be fast and unpredictable fighters, such as the case with Terry McGovern, Stanley Ketchel, and Rocky Graziano. While normally considered the most crude boxers, Bob Fitzsimmons was considered by many boxing historians to be highly scientific in his slugging techniques. Because of their similar brawling tactics, swarmers and sluggers are often confused with each other, and some fighters may fit into either category. Famous sluggers include Max Baer, Paul Berlenbach, Riddick Bowe, Fitzsimmons, George Foreman, Sonny Liston, Bob Foster, Gene Fullmer, Ceferino Garcia, Arturo Gatti, Wilfredo Gomez, Graziano, Al Hostak, James J. Jeffries, Ingemar Johansson, Ketchel, Vitali Klitschko, Ron Lyle, Freddie Mills, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Ricardo Mayorga, Ruslan Provodnikov, Earnie Shavers, John L. Sullivan, Barbados Joe Walcott, Anne Sophie Mathis, Vonda Ward and Ann Wolfe. Fictional characters Rocky Balboa and Clubber Lang are considered to be sluggers.
The out-boxer (out-fighter, boxer) is the opposite of the swarmer. The out-boxer seeks to maintain a gap from their opponent and fight with faster, longer range punches. Out-boxers are known for being extremely quick on their feet, which often makes up for a lack of power. Since they rely on the weaker jabs and straights (as opposed to hooks and uppercuts), they tend to win by points decisions rather than by knockout, although some out-boxers can be aggressive and effective punchers. Out-boxers such as Benny Leonard, Gene Tunney, Muhammad Ali, and Larry Holmes have many notable knockouts, but usually preferred to wear down their opponents and outclass them rather than just knock them out. Out-boxers also cross over frequently with counter-punch and/or swarming techniques, such as Naseem Hamed, who used his speed on his feet to avoid injury and his precision and power to carve his opponents down. Notable out-boxers include Ali, Wilfred Benitez, Cecilia Brækhus, Ezzard Charles, Kid Chocolate, Billy Conn, James J. Corbett, George Dixon, Chris Eubank, Tiger Flowers, Mike Gibbons, Holly Holm, Larry Holmes, Harold Johnson, Jack Johnson, Junior Jones, Zab Judah, Herol Graham, Erislandy Lara, Leonard, Tommy Loughran, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Philadelphia Jack O'Brien, Willie Pep, Maxie Rosenbloom, Barney Ross, Michael Spinks, Tunney, Jersey Joe Walcott, Wladimir Klitschko, Hughie Fury and Pernell Whitaker. The fictional character Apollo Creed is considered an out-boxer.
The boxer-puncher possesses many of the qualities of the out-boxer; hand speed, often an outstanding jab, combination and/or counter-punching skills, better defense and accuracy than a slugger, while possessing slugger type power. The Boxer-puncher may also be more willing to fight in an aggressive swarmer-style than an out-boxer. In general the boxer-puncher lacks the mobility and defensive expertise of the pure boxer. Boxer-punchers usually do well against out-boxers, especially if they can match their speed and mobility. They also tend to match up well against swarmers, because the extra power often discourages the swarmer's aggression. Boxer-punchers can be hard to categorize since they can be closer in style to a slugger, swarmer, or an out-boxer. Notable boxer-punchers include Laila Ali, Alexis Arguello, Marco Antonio Barrera, Tony Canzoneri, Marcel Cerdan, Oscar De La Hoya, Roberto Duran, Joe Gans, Tommy Gibbons, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, Bernard Hopkins, Evander Holyfield, Eder Jofre, Roy Jones, Jr., Sam Langford, Sugar Ray Leonard, Lennox Lewis, Anthony Joshua, Ricardo Lopez, Azumah Nelson, Vasyl Lomachenko, Joe Louis, Christy Martin, Carlos Monzon, Archie Moore, Erik Morales, Jose Napoles, Manny Pacquiao, Sugar Ray Robinson, Luis Manuel Rodríguez, Sandy Saddler, Carlos Zarate Serna, Freddie Steele, James Toney, Felix Trinidad, Shane Mosley, Ike Williams, Jimmy Wilde, Kostya Tszyu and Tony Zale. .
Sub-styles and other categories
Counterpuncher A counterpuncher utilizes techniques that require the opposing boxer to make a mistake, and then capitalizing on that mistake. A skilled counterpuncher can utilize such techniques as winning rounds with the jab or psychological tactics to entice an opponent to fall into an aggressive style that will exhaust him and leave him open for counterpunches. For these reasons this form of boxing balances defense and offense but can lead to severe damage if the boxer who utilizes this technique has bad reflexes or isn't quick enough. Notable counterpunchers are Canelo Álvarez, Andre Berto, Timothy Bradley, Charley Burley, Floyd Mayweather, Marvin Hagler, Andre Ward, Bernard Hopkins, Vitali Klitschko, Evander Holyfield, Hector Camacho, Juan Manuel Márquez, Archie Moore, Jerry Quarry, Salvador Sanchez, Max Schmeling, Dick Tiger, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Azumah Nelson, Tony Canzoneri, Terence Crawford, Gennady Golovkin, Wilfred Benitez and James Toney.
Southpaw A southpaw fights at a left‐handed fighting stance as opposed to an orthodox fighter who fights right‐handed. Orthodox fighters lead and jab from their left side, and southpaw fighters will jab and lead from their right side. Orthodox fighters hook more with their left and cross more with their right, and vice versa for southpaw fighters. Some naturally right-handed fighters (such as Marvin Hagler and Michael Moorer) have converted to southpaw in the past to offset their opponents. Famous southpaws include Melio Bettina, Ruslan Chagaev, Tiger Flowers, Hagler, Naseem Hamed, Zab Judah, Moorer, Manny Pacquiao, Sergio Martínez, Tarver, Pernell Whitaker, Joe Calzaghe, Hector Camacho and Winky Wright. In Rocky (film series), Rocky Balboa and Clubber Lang are southpaws, as well as Mason Dixon who is played by actual light‐heavyweight southpaw Antonio Tarver. Fictional character Billy "The Great" Hope used a southpaw uppercut to knock down Miguel Escobar in his comeback fight in the film Southpaw.
Switch-Hitter A switch-hitter switches back and forth between a right-handed (orthodox) stance and a left-handed (southpaw) stance on purpose to confuse their opponents in a fight. Right-handed boxers would train in the left-handed (southpaw) stance, while southpaws would train in a right-handed (orthodox) stance, gaining the ability to switch back and forth after much training. A truly ambidextrous boxer can naturally fight in the switch-hitter style without as much training. Notable switch-hitters include Andre Ward, Terence Crawford, Kelly Pavlik, Marvin Hagler, Carmen Basilio, Marco Antonio Barrera, Winky Wright, Joe Calzaghe, Michael Moorer, Miguel Cotto and Tyson Fury.