Every sport has individuals who turn their vocation into an art form, whose personal flair and creativity allows them to express themselves through sport. Boxing is perhaps the most quintessential example of this. One individual, under the lights, alone, exposed, but ultimately, the only one who can shine.
Across boxing there has been a succession of examples of individuals who have developed a specific signature. A single move inside a boxing ring that defines them as a fighter, their trademark. Their signature punch. In this article I will look at some of Boxing history's most iconic, and most idiosyncratic punches.
Rocky Marciano - Susie Q
The most famous trademark of all is that of 49-0, Heavyweight champion the Brockton Blockbuster Rocky Marciano. His overhand right was a freight train that made sure that 43 of his 49 opponents never made it up off the canvas. Louis, Walcott, Charles, three of the greatest fighters to ever lace up gloves, not one could withstand the Marciano onslaught.
The punch was a thunderbolt that seemed to carry with it the entire force of Rocky’s body, a fighter jet inside a boxing glove. Named after the ‘Susie Q’ Jitterbug style swing dance it was as 1950’s Americana as Coca Cola, diners and leather jackets.
Kid Gavilán - Bolo Punch
All the way back into the days of Fitzimmons and Jeffries there have been signature punches but not of them were quite as dramatic, quite as flamboyant as Kid Gavilán’s Bolo Punch. A full twirl into an uppercut, it was powerful, versatile and a psychological weapon as much as a physical one. Although Sugar Ray Leonard popularised the move in his rematch with Roberto Duran, it was unique to the ‘Cuban Hawk’ and he used it devastatingly throughout his career.
A parade of greats felt it’s sting; Billy Graham, Ike Williams, Carmen Basilio were beaten, and despite losing the fight he even landed it on the great Ray Robinson.
Henry Cooper - ‘Enry’s ‘Ammer
Marciano’s signature punch may have been America distilled, but no one will ever embody the fighting heart of an underdog nation as ‘ar ‘Enry, Sir Henry Cooper. England’s Henry Cooper was an east end lad who captured the hearts of the boxing public.
A left handed orthodox fighter who used his left hand dominance to set up his trademark weapon; ‘Enry’s ‘Ammer. A swift, brutal and efficient left hook that could blindside even the fastest of opponents. Although Cooper never reached the heights of some of the other fighters on this list his knockdown of the great Muhammad Ali will live in boxing infamy forever.
Floyd Patterson - Gazelle Punch
Like the Bolo Punch, the unique Gazelle punch has been often copied and used with great effect, its ingenuity though, sits squarely on the shoulders of two men Floyd Patterson and Cus D’Amato. Faced with the problem of a small heavyweight who was often fighting much bigger men they fused a left hook with an explosive leap and created a monster.
It produced stunning results against the likes of Archie Moore and Ingemar Johansson, made all the more spectacular by the aerial nature of the punch. Mike Tyson and Marvin Hagler (from southpaw) both made this punch their own, but it was never quite the same signature as when used by its originator.
Muhammad Ali - Anchor Punch
This one is an outlier from the rest, made famous by one single usage. Supposedly copied from the great Jack Johnson the short twisting counter right hand would love in infamy as both the ‘Anchor’ and ‘Phantom’ punch.
Later Ali described that it only took 4/100ths of a second to land on Listons chin, faster than a camera flash. He joked that those who thought Liston took a dive simply blinked the moment it was thrown! It wasn’t just a Liston conqueror, the greatest kept it in his arsenal throughout his career. Zora Foley and Floyd Patterson too fell victim to it. It also bounced off the iron chin of Joe Frazier many times in their epic battles.
Razor Ruddock- The Smash
The final trademark punch to make this list could well be the most unorthodox and visually interesting of the lot. Heavyweight campaigner Donovan Razor Ruddock was unlucky to box in a golden era for the division ultimately coming up short against greats like Tyson and Louis. He always though, had a trick up his sleeve.
A leaning back, jumping in, hook come uppercut, the self titled ‘Smash’ was a truly bizarre punch.He delivered the smash to score knockouts against the likes of Micheal Dokes and Bonecrusher Smith. It looked to the naked eye as if it ought not to work, but yet it proved effective for Ruddock’s style.
Ewan For SimBoxx
In Association with Clint Patrick