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How Do You Know If You Are Southpaw Or Orthodox?

As a new boxer, it may be difficult to know whether you are a Southpaw fighter, or an Orthodox one. Perhaps you aren’t really sure what the difference is between them. Well fear not friend, because in this post, I am going to help you by answering your question, and any additional ones you might have. So how do I know if I am southpaw or orthodox?

In most cases, if you are right handed, then you are orthodox, and if you’re left handed, then you fight southpaw. An orthodox fighter stands with their left side forward and jabs with their left hand, while a southpaw stands with their right side forward and jabs with their right hand.

However, there are exceptions, as some right-handed fighters prefer to have their dominant hand in front of them, such as pro boxer Tevin Farmer. In the rest of this post, I’ll explain why fighters would switch stances, as well as differences in each stance.

The Difference Between Orthodox And Southpaw

If you’re reading this, then chances are you are fairly new to boxing. So to start, I am going to explain what southpaw and orthodox even mean, as it can be confusing as a beginner.

First, we’ll talk about fighting Orthodox. An orthodox fighter is someone who stands with their left foot and left side slightly forward, while keeping their right side behind them. Orthodox fighters are typically right-handed.

Below, you can see an image of professional boxer Floyd Mayweather, who is an orthodox fighter. Notice how his left side is facing his opponent, while his right side is pointed the other way. Notice that the same is true for his feet.

Boxer Floyd Mayweather is an orthodox fighter, which you can see here.
Boxer Floyd Mayweather is an orthodox fighter, which you can see here.

Now let’s talk about what a southpaw is. As you might have guessed, southpaw is simply the opposite of what an orthodox fighter is. A southpaw fighter stands with their right side forward, while keeping their left side behind them.

Below, you can see a picture of Conor McGregor fighting against Floyd Mayweather, the boxer from the image above. Remember that Floyd fights orthodox, so his left foot is still forward, with his right foot behind.

Conor McGregor (left) stands southpaw, noted by his right foot being forward, with his left behind him.
Conor McGregor (left) stands southpaw, noted by his right foot being forward, with his left behind him.

The first thing you might notice is that McGregor’s back is facing towards us, whereas Floyd’s back was facing away from us in his picture from earlier. This is because McGregor is a southpaw, and he fights in the opposite stance from Mayweather.

Notice that McGregor’s right side is forward, while keeping his left side back. Also notice that Floyd is the opposite, left side forward right side back.

To get a better glimpse at the two opposite stances facing each other, below is a picture of Khabib Nurmagomedov (Orthodox) fighting against Conor McGregor (Southpaw).

Khabib (left), is standing orthodox, while McGregor (right) fights southpaw.
Khabib (left), is standing orthodox, while McGregor (right) fights southpaw.

The reflection of their different stances is clearer in this picture, and it may help you see which one probably applies to you.

Now, as mentioned already, the easiest way to find out if you are orthodox or southpaw is by keeping your dominant side behind you. You want to jab with your weak hand and cross with your power/dominant hand.

So usually right-handed people fight orthodox, and left-handed people fight southpaw.

Why Should You Jab With Your Weak Hand?

There are several reasons why you would want to keep your dominant hand back, while jabbing with your weak hand. The main and most obvious reason is because it just feels more natural.

There are many explanations as to why it might feel more natural, but let’s look at the details. When you throw a punch, you’re not only using your hand, but your whole body. However, the majority of the force for that punch will come from only one side of your body.

A right-handed person will find it easy to throw a strong right hand, because their right-side dominance helps them generate power through their right side. However, if you ask them to throw a left-handed punch, it will be significantly weaker than their right hand.

Some fighters are known for the power in their dominant hand, such as Deontay Wilder's right hand.
Some fighters are known for the power in their dominant hand, such as Deontay Wilder is for his right hand.

So your non-dominant hand is a bit weaker. Why does that matter? Well, in boxing, the hand that you keep tucked behind you is referred to as a ‘power hand’. Because you hold dominance over that side of the body, you want to throw harder shots with that hand, such as hooks and uppercuts.

This is the hand you want to cause significant damage with while boxing. Most knockouts are the result of a strike from the power hand, not from the lead hand. The reason the power hand is held back, is because the further a punch travels, the more momentum and force it has behind it.

The power hand also has a lot of power driven from the legs up into the punch itself. This is something I explain in a post on How To Develop A Stronger Jab, which explains some of the tactics used for the power hand, and how to apply them to your lead hand.

Also, you will typically be more accurate with your dominant hand. It is easy to lose your balance if you miss a shot with your power hand. This is something that happens fairly often to heavyweight boxer Deontay Wilder.

Deontay Wilder swings a wild right hand, hoping it is strong enough to end the fight.
Deontay Wilder swings a wild right hand, hoping it is strong enough to end the fight.

Deontay Wilder is known for having a wild punching style, winding up his punches to put tremendous power behind them. However, his punching style is known to leave him unbalanced, as he swings all his momentum into the punch.

If he lands the punch, then Wilder regains his momentum by transferring the weight of his right hand to his opponent. But if he misses, his whole right side is left hanging and off balance, and can result in him falling or getting hit.

This is why it is in his best interest to fight orthodox, with his right hand behind him. His right hand is not only powerful, but also very accurate, lowering the chance of him losing his balance and getting hit, while increasing his chance at a knockout.

Keeping your dominant hand behind you leaves your lead hand for throwing your jab. Because a jab is mostly used for gauging distance, it does not have to be incredibly accurate. Even if you miss a strong jab, it won’t compromise your balance in the way missing a strong hook with your power hand would.

Why Do Some Right Handed Fighters Stand Southpaw?

So in the past section, I basically said that if you’re right-handed, then it makes sense to fight orthodox because you keep your most accurate hand as your power hand. So then why do some right-handed fighters stand southpaw?

Right-handed southpaw Tevin Farmer (right) lands a jab.
Right-handed southpaw Tevin Farmer (right) lands a jab.

The main reason is because they want to have an accurate and strong jab. In boxing, repeatedly landing a jab can earn you significant points, so it is possible to win fights just from a strong jab. Having your dominant hand as your jabbing hand makes it easier to land, helping the fighter to win on the scorecards.

A prime example of this is IBF super featherweight champion Tevin Farmer. Farmer is right-handed, but fights out of the southpaw stance. If you look at his record, you’ll note that he is not a power-puncher, as only 6 of his 30 wins are by knockout.

However, he is a very good fighter, seen by the large amount of unanimous decisions he has won. He is very accurate with his jab, and is more of a volume puncher. When he is closer than jabbing range, he stands with his opponent and lands consecutive strikes to win the round.

The southpaw Tevin Farmer (right) lands shots in succession when he gets into close-range, as seen here against Angel Luna (left).
The southpaw Tevin Farmer (right) lands shots in succession when he gets into close-range, as seen here against Angel Luna (left).

So as mentioned in the beginning of the post, the easiest way to find out if you are a southpaw or orthodox fighter is like this: Right-Handed=Orthodox, Left-Handed=Southpaw. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. If you want a stronger jab, then switch to the opposite stance, or if you want a stronger power hand, then stay in the recommended stance.

I hope this post helped clear some confusion about southpaw and orthodox stances. If you have any questions about training, check out the Training Tips page, where I answer common questions similar to the one in this post. Thanks for reading!