Mike Tyson Technique Breakdown Part 5: Leaping Left Hooks

Navigation: Tyson main menu -  Angles of Attack - Southpaw Attacks - Peekaboo - Jabs - Leaping Left Hooks - Offensive Body Punching - Body Punching pt 2: Counter-punching 


By Kostas Fantaousakis, copyright 2018. Originally published on Bloodyelbow.com 

In Part 1 of this series, we analyzed Mike Tyson’s angles of attack and in Part 2, his southpaw tactics. In Part 3, we stressed the importance of Cus D’Amato’s peekaboo style as a base of operations for Iron Mike’s game. Finally, an often neglected part of his game, his short jab, was thoroughly examined.

You can click on the highlighted links above to read all four articles and you can click here for Parts 1 and 2 in video format.

Now that we have all these important parts of Tyson’s game at our disposal, we have the essential “vocabulary” that can help us understand how Tyson’s peekaboo movement, angles and tactics are able to keep opponents constantly guessing, in order for him to land his greatest weapon: his leaping left hook.

But what exactly is a leaping left hook? Let’s examine the clip below:

As you can see, when throwing a leaping left hook, Tyson steps his left foot forward while leaning left and changing levels, thus loading weight and energy on that foot. Mike pushes with the front foot like a sprinter and leaps forward. During that leaping trajectory, his right foot jumps forward and lands on the floor as his left foot follows and lands even further. The left hook often connects, while his right foot is still in mid-air and the power comes from pushing the left foot against the ground (photo 4). The leap closes the distance, cuts off the ring and resets Tyson’s stance back to orthodox.

Make no mistake about it, this is a devastating punch. It is devastating enough when examined in isolation, but when you analyze this simple yet effective attack within the context of the D’Amato boxing system, you can’t help but notice connections everywhere in Tyson’s game.

One of the reasons this punch was so successful throughout his career, is because Tyson’s “shooting peekaboo” movement allowed him to load and unload weight on his left leg in a continuous fashion. Opponents did not know what to expect when Tyson leaned left: a right hand, a short jab, a leaping jab, a body attack, or a leaping left hook?

Most would often anticipate a leaping jab or uppercut coming their way and would extend their right hands forward in order to parry the punch. This is where the effectiveness of the leaping left hook comes into play: the punch will catch you as you are going backwards and behind your guard, often on the back of the head.

Before we continue, it is important for our readers to watch the video above where Mike Tyson explains his crouching style of fighting. Here is the transcript:

“Most opponents I am used to fighting are 6 ft 3, 6 ft 2, the average heavyweight and I think I use it to my advantage because I move my head, I am very quick and I am low to the ground so it is very difficult to hit me. I crouch low to make my opponents punch down because I know where they are going to punch at, I am down there and I am looking at them, I am so low and when I come up I feel this is to my advantage because they cannot see my punches coming. I get a lot of leverage for my punches and it does not matter if I punch straight or down or round, I have good leverage.”

One important detail in making the attack more successful is pausing for a split second after leaning to the left, just before launching forward, which maximizes the chances of landing the punch. The pause disrupts opponents’ rhythm and makes them freeze for a second. This “trick” also works when shooting for takedowns.

Examining the leaping left hook footwork

In the following video you can see the 3 stages that comprise the footwork of the leaping left hook:

1. Move your left foot to the front. Load weight on the left knee and lower your level.

2. Jump and land the right foot to the front and to the right. This is when you launch the punch.

3. Before landing, move the left foot to the front in order to land in an orthodox stance.

The “Tyson trip”

As we noted in a previous post, in order to cut off the ring, Tyson would often preemptively place his right foot forward. This placement comes naturally with leaping left hooks. Mike Tyson exaggerated so much in his movement that he actually tripped his opponent. I call this the “Tyson trip.”

This also works when your right foot steps on your opponent’s left foot and you attack with a left hook (not legal in boxing).

Note: I am not saying that Tyson tripped his opponents intentionally, just that the placement of the foot makes this possible.

Leaping left hook to the body



Another way to explode forward with left leaping attacks is to attack the body. It is important to do this in order to “mix things up” and keep your opponents guessing. A leaping left hook to the body is also effective when your opponents keep moving backwards, pulling their head out of range (see Jon Jones).

Tyson would often get the clinch after landing leaping left hooks to the body as you can see below.

Leading with leaping left hooks


Leaping left hook to a right hand



A leaping left hook is a great way to close the distance and set up right hand attacks. In fact, it is often advisable to do so due to the fact that when you attack with a leaping left hook, you can land with your chin up and standing tall. A right hand is a good way to change levels and go back to crouching or shooting peekaboo rhythm right after the leap.

Leaping left hook to the body to a left hook



Combining two left attacks is a great way to catch opponents as most of them expect left-right-left combinations. The leaping left hook to the body can force opponents to drop the hands and open up their defense in order to land the left hook.

Double Leaping Left Hooks


The double leaping left hook is a great tool for both boxers and MMA fighters alike. It is a great way to get the clinch as the left hand moves like an antenna, constantly reaching for contact. You can attack by transitioning from a left hook to a leaping one, vice versa, or with two leaping left hooks in a row.

Double leaping left hooks are also a great way to catch fighters when they are trying to escape from the corner as is the case below.


In the next clip, Tyson fails to land and uses the double leaping hooks to get the clinch.



Finally, you can see below, one last double leaping left hook sequence. Take a look at how Tyson misses with the first and is able to land the second time. This is very common. In kickboxing, a right high kick would be a great follow-up attack.

Using leaping left hooks as follow-up attacks


Jab to a leaping left hook

In all clips below you can see how Tyson’s jab forces the opponent to drop the right hand in order to parry and then Tyson explodes forward, landing a leaping left hook behind his opponent’s guard.



Jab feint to a leaping left hook / Tyson trip


Here is an example of a leaping left hook where, again, Tyson uses his right foot placement to unbalance his opponent as described above and in the southpaw section of this series.

Please notice that his opponent falls down, despite being able to block the hook. He was out of balance trying to catch Mike with a counter left hook.


 Jab to a leaping left hook to the body





In this clip, Tyson throws a jab in order to close the distance and attacks with a leaping left hook to the body. Please notice that his opponent covers up after the jab and that exposes his liver. Mixing things up is the only way to make opponents compromise their defensive posture.

Leaping left hook to the body to a series of left hooks



In this sequence, Tyson attacks with a leaping left hook to the body. His opponent has his back against the corner and tries to escape to the right. Mike follows up with a leaping left hook, a right hook to the body and two left hooks.

Left uppercut to a leaping left hook

Tyson would sometimes follow a left jab with a second jab or a jab/uppercut hybrid from the runner's stance and a leaping left hook. You can examine such an example in the clip below:


Mike is in a low crouching stance, and then he comes up with a left uppercut / jab hybrid and misses. He pulls back in order to reload his momentum and explodes forward with a leaping left hook.

Counter-punching with leaping left hooks


Peekaboo defense to a leaping left hook

In the clip below you can examine the effectiveness of this punch when it is launched after the defensive head movement of the peekaboo style of boxing. All three types of peekaboo style movement are combined here (metronome, crouching, shooting).

Here is the full clip (angle #1):

Here is another angle from the top:


Peekaboo defense versus jabs to a leaping left hook



The shooting or crouching peekaboo postures and rhythms are a great way to neutralize continuous jabs, as you can see in the sequence above. As noted before, in these defensive postures, the body is already positioned correctly in order to attack with a leaping left hook. Tyson does so in this case, and is able to catch his opponent. Notice how successful leaping left hooks can be in neutralizing the reach advantage of longer opponents.

(Right hand), slip, left hook, leaping left hook




In this sequence Tyson uses the “metronome” peekaboo rhythm and is able to slip a jab and a following right cross. Immediately after slipping the cross, Mike closes the distance with a left hook, misses, but reloads by taking advantage of his own momentum, and this time lands a leaping left hook. A second left hook usually has a higher success rate than the first one.

(Left hook), roll under, leaping left hook

This one is a classic counter. Rolling under left hooks is a good way to change levels, load energy on the front knee and launch the leaping left hook.

Here is a variation with continuous roll-unders to leaping left hooks.


Mitt-work drill

My students asked me to demonstrate how leaping left hooks are incorporated in my Continuous Feedback© mitt-work system, and I did so in the following clip:


Please note that this was my student’s first attempt at leaping left hooks, and although his form was not perfect, he almost injured my forearm when he connected. This is a devastating punch, so please be careful, retreat fast and keep your chin away from the mitt.

The objective of this drill is to provide an unexpected, non-verbal signal for a short overhand right to a leaping left hook at some point during the mitt-work routines. The signal is demonstrated in the following photo.

Once the right hand is launched, step back in order to provide the necessary space for the student to leap forward with the left hook. In all clips provided, my student was not aware when the signal was coming. This enables students to go from counter-punching to offensive mode without hesitation.

This is the end of this breakdown.

The next part of this series will cover Mike Tyson’s jab.

Navigation: Tyson main menu -  Angles of Attack - Southpaw Attacks - Peekaboo - Jabs - Leaping Left Hooks - Offensive Body Punching - Body Punching pt 2: Counter-punching 

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