Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Uncovering the Check Hook Punch

Think this one through.....

Below is a discussion on the "check hook." How much value should one invest in being able to appropriately identify, or to correctly execute this technique, often called a counter punch by many trainers? It was of profound importance for Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and his corner when he used this check hook to knock out his opponent, Ricky Hatton, in their 2007 world title fight.

I have often successfully used this same counter punch against various types of fighters attempting most all known attacking techniques, round kicks, straight rights, left jabs, and/or the shooting of a grappler. I was taught not to hook with a hooker---unless he's a dud or super slow----however, I’ve often worked a “corkscrew hook” inside a wide outside hook being attempted by a fighter who lunges in with his chin unprotected. It requires exceptional "interception" timing, catching the attacker in the middle of his offensive strike as you will view in the Mayweather/Hatton clip below.

Various hooks:

It is easy to become confused over all the different types of hooks and the various names different geographical areas use to identify each. There are inside and outside hooks, hooks to the head, the body, or the thigh cavities. We have shovel hooks, sneak hooks, the forty-five hook, the corkscrew hook, the upright hook, the check hook, the pronaded and supinated hooks, the straight hook, the surge hook, and the swing hook, just to name a few. Some are better for use as counter techniques while others are lead-off or follow-up punches. With the right training, type of opponent, and timing, they can all work.

Part of the widespread confusion is due to the use of creating slang terms for each as a specialized vocabulary and idioms, the purpose of which was to disguise from outsiders the meaning of what was being said or taught. It’s the same with most martial art disciplines; in Muay Thai, one camp will call the knee strike to the side of ones mid-section a circle knee and others call it an inside knee. The up-kick identified in Muay Thai is called the stick-kick in Burmese kickboxing. In Philadelphia’s old school boxing gyms, the inside hook (Jack Dempsey’s shovel hook) to the body or head is called the “forty-five,” due to the angle of its penetrating trajectory. In the old boxing schools in New York City, many refer to the same type punch as a “check hook,” especially when it’s used as a counter.

Study correct execution:

One of my motives for creating my Black Belt Manual (CLICK) was to help my fighters deal with what’s of most importance to them, and also how best for each of them to train by making it easy to select which maneuvers from our Universal Fighting Tactics section to use in preparation for their classroom or for an upcoming contest. For example, in the chapter discussing our favorite proven fighting combinations, the “Dirty Dozen,” (CLICK) one of them is called “The Tony Zale.” Tony knocked out the infamous former world boxing champion, Rocky Graziano, twice with the same combination---a right hook to the body followed by a hook to the head, a “corkscrew hook.” (CLICK) (The actual fight between Zale and Gaziano)

From time to time I will break down many of these ultimate fighting techniques and maneuvers and the psychology behind them at my Day/camp clinics (click on site below and go to Calendar of Events). Available studies will often appear on my blogs as well as on clips you can find on my web site if you are one of our special JLFS’s members.
Check us out: Joelewisfightingsystems.com

Study the below clip (two minutes-plus) closely and you can see Mayweather early in this last round attempting to set up this finishing shot, the check hook, by keeping Hatton slightly out of range and drawing him into the pocket. Hatton gets hit coming into the pocket---head first. Prior to the knockout, Mayweather has successfully used his jab to draw Hatton’s right glove slightly forward and downward from protecting his chin (Part of the set-up in conjunction with the drawing forward footwork against Ricky). Hatton’s left shoulder and right glove had both deserted protecting his chin when he charged in on Mayweather.

The knockout blow, according to Wikipedia’s writer below, was supposed to be a check hook; however, to me, this shot looks more like what is called a corkscrew hook off the wrong foot. Using Wikipedia’s definition of a check hook, there is supposed to be some type of slide step just prior to triggering this punch, either a pivot in (on left foot) against a South-paw or a pivot out (also on left foot) against an orthodox hooker like Hatton. Note that Mayweather does not pivot at all (although he begins to pivot out on his right foot appearing to be positioned on just one foot), as he lands his counter against Hatton's incoming hook. I did not see any slide step during the hook. Supposedly, the attacker is going to lunge past you leaving him open for this check hook counter punch. Your call!

Check hook - From Wikipedia, (CLICK)

In boxing, a check hook is employed to prevent aggressive boxers from lunging in. There are two parts to the check hook. The first part consists of a regular hook. The second, trickier part involves the footwork. As the opponent lunges in, the boxer should throw the hook and pivot on his left foot and swing his right foot 180 degrees around. If executed correctly, the aggressive boxer will lunge in and sail harmlessly past his opponent like a bull missing a matador.

This is rarely seen in professional boxing as it requires a great disparity in skill level to execute. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. demonstrated a picture perfect example of this punch against Ricky Hatton in their 2007 encounter. Ricky Hatton was caught with the check hook as he was lunging in; Hatton continued forward as he was knocked off balance and proceeded to ram his head into the ring post as Floyd Mayweather stepped out of harm's way. When interviewed, Mayweather stated that he was taught the check hook in the Michigan amateurs.

Mayweather/Hatton clip: (CLICK)

This contest represents a classic example of great courage and gallentry being trumped by superior tactics and techniques.


Joe Lewis


  1. Great tips as always Joe. Glad to see you still alive and kicking

    Sensei J. Richard Kirkham B.Sc.

  2. i worked 4 mike mentzer & was a student of his after LIFE in body building, he was a scientist of what he excelled in POST career. everybody in sports have features & the talent 2 use it. a few like ted williams become doctor of their own career , of swing, of bodybuilding, of kickin peoples asses. the sport does not do justice even in MMA 2 the lion who kills 4 dominance , this is the lion of the THUMP, the doctor teaches GO learn.