The term southpaw refers to fighters who are most comfortable fighting with their right foot forward and left foot back, as opposed to “orthodox” fighters which are the opposite. Typically, it is left-handed people who tend to be southpaws, and since only about 10% of people are left-handed they also tend to be quite rare. For an orthodox fighter, a southpaw is always a challenge. This is why with the unprecedented “Mayweather versus Macgregor” boxing match coming up, many are citing Conor Macgregor’s southpaw stance as a hazard for Floyd Mayweather Jr even though Conor Macgregor has never boxed before and Floyd Mayweather Jr is one of the most talented and decorated boxers of all time. Why would simply having a different foot forward have such an impact?
1.The Left Cross
The cross is the straight power punch delivered from the rear hand, which is left on a southpaw. While a jab has no hip rotation and can usually be simply stopped with the rear hand when fighting another orthodox fighter, the cross hits much harder so generally it must be parried or slipped, not just caught. Against another orthodox, the left hand is responsible for parrying and is usually held out further forward, so it can intercept the cross early. Against a southpaw, you have to parry with your right hand which is held much further back. This means the cross is penetrating much further into your defenses before you have a chance to parry, so you have to be faster and more precise.
2. The Left Power Kick
In Muay Thai, MMA or any other sport where leg kicks are allowed, the most commonly thrown kick is the right power kick to the left outer thigh. It’s quick, damaging and doesn’t require much set-up or flexibility. However, regular training conditions the body to take common blows and as a result most fighters can take quite a few leg kicks before they really start to take their toll. Less common between orthodox fighters is the inside leg kick, since it’s done with the lead leg. Not as much power can be generated since there isn’t much rotation, and if you switch your stance or shuffle step to power it up then it’ll be telegraphed and likely avoided. This means the inner thigh doesn’t get conditioned as well to take hard hits, and when you fight a southpaw it’s the target for their power kick from the rear leg. Even experienced fighters can be in serious trouble after even 1-2 hard inner thigh strikes from a southpaw.
You may be thinking “Well, that makes sense, but wouldn’t the orthodox fighter have the same advantages the southpaw does?”. Physically yes, but the difference really comes back to that 90/10 split. Statistically an orthodox fighter will only fight southpaws 10% of the time, whereas the southpaw fights orthodox fighters 90% of the time. This means that when orthodox fighters and southpaws clash, even though they should technically have the same weapons lined up the southpaw has nine times the experience in applying them that way. That’s why when southpaws fight each other, it often throws them for just as much of a loop as anyone else!
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