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Underdog Boxing: Donaire’s left hook and how it got him 3rd in P4P rankings

February 23, 2011 4:00pm
Jab, straight, hook, uppercut.

If you step into a boxing gym, these are the first punches your trainer will teach you. But if you spend more time training, these four punches evolve into a hundred different punches.

Take the hook, for example. The left hook is one of the most potent weapons of right-handed fighters. Why? Because it’s closer to the opponent than the right hand. It will take a shorter amount of time to land a left hook than it will with a right straight.

Nonito Donaire’s left hook drew the spotlight in his 2007 victory over Vic Darchinyan. Now it's the talk of the town anew after his big victory over Fernando Montiel. The Filipino Flash is now ranked third in Ring Magazine’s list of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, behind only Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. He was ranked fifth before fighting Montiel, but with that vicious knockout, he dislodged Sergio Martinez and Juan Manuel Marquez.

People in the street refer to the knockout punch simply as a left hook, but those deeply entrenched in boxing know that it was so much more than a left hook. The punch is what some people call as the CHECK HOOK. It may look like just a lucky punch to some people, but in fact it is the result of a lot of preparation and good scouting.

There are two key ingredients to a check hook. The first is the regular hook and the other is footwork. The check hook is a counter against fighters who lunge in. To throw this punch, a fighter must wait for his opponent to lunge in, take a quick step back, and pivot while throwing the hook.

Usually, the check hook is thrown to dissuade the opponent from lunging in. If you hit him with enough check hooks, he’ll simply fight on the outside, and fighters like Donaire can then use their reach advantage to pick their opponent apart. However, Donaire’s check hook is more potent than that of others because he has knockout power in his left hand.

Because Donaire is tall for his weight division, his opponents often lunge at him to bridge the distance. This gives Donaire the perfect opportunity for the check hook. As if this were not enough, Donaire also baits his opponents into throwing lunging rights by lowering his left glove. By opening the left side of his face, Donaire baited Montiel into making the big mistake of recklessly throwing a right. Donaire knew the punch was coming so he braced for it and launched a check hook.

Montiel’s punch did land, but Donaire was ready for it. Montiel never saw the check hook coming, that’s why he was knocked out.

Donaire joins Mayweather and Roy Jones Jr. as the owners of the best check hooks of our time. He has evolved into a multi-dimensional fighter, and it will take a very special fighter with a great game plan to stop him. -- KY/OMG, GMA News

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