Two aggressively sweating boxers hugging in the ring doesn’t appear like something normal. And if you’ve seen legends like Lennox Lewis and Floyd Mayweather use the art of boxing hug, you’ve probably wondered why two fighters would embrace each other when they shouldn’t. So why do boxers hug in the first place?
Boxers hug in the ring as a form of tactical maneuver. A boxer will clinch to alter an opponent’s rhythm, rest as they wait for the bell to ring, or take a break because they’re in pain. They also hug to keep themselves from taking a hit at a close range so they absorb less energy during a hit.
Clearly, hugging in boxing has nothing to do with submission. And it’s not a usual form of affection. Just so that you don’t get confused, there’s actually no hugging that takes place in the ring. What you see the boxers do is clinching, which is a very important aspect of the sport.
What is a Clinch in Boxing?
A clinch, also known as a hug, is a boxing strategy where two boxers get close and wrap their arms around one another. Once in the hugging position, boxers can punch each other, stay in the clinch until a ref breaks them up, or separate in 3 seconds.
In clinching, you have the opportunity to lean your weight on the opponent so that they don’t get the momentum to knee, throw, or trip you in a fight.
Why Do Amateur and Professional Boxers Clinch In the Ring?
There is nothing more significant in a boxing ring than self-defense. And hugging (or clinching) is one of the techniques boxers use to keep safe to some degree in the fight.
In clinching, you place your arms over your opponent. With your forehead on their shoulder, you hold them tight and put as much weight as possible on them. When you clinch, you make it difficult for the opponent to keep hitting you hard. Because you’ve added extra weight on them, they’ll have to work extra hard to get out of the clinch. As they make their attempt to get out of the hug, you do get the chance to score a few punches and earn more points.
To be clear, hugging in boxing isn’t holding. We can define it as a tactical maneuver that disallows you to wrap your arm around your opponent’s neck or waist during boxing. Done right, clinching in boxing will make it easy for you to break your opponent’s fighting rhythm, rest as you wait for the bell to ring, or take somewhat of a break to stop hurting.
What are the Benefits of Clinching in Boxing?
There are a few reasons why it’s important to clinch in boxing.
1. You Clinch to Conserve Energy for the Fight
Boxing matches last 12 rounds, with each round going for a span of 3 minutes max. You’ll be in the ring for 36 minutes. And in addition to endurance and stamina, you’ll need efficiency to keep going.
By hugging in the game, you stand the chance to recover and conserve the energy necessary to keep you in the game.
2. Clinching Slows Down Your Opponent
The ultimate goal of getting in the boxing ring is to come out a winner. But if your opponent is more active than you are, your chances to win the game will more than likely be slim. You need a strategy to enable you to keep up with their pace, and hugging in boxing can go a long way to make a difference.
By clinching, you easily slow down an active and aggrieved opponent who would land hard punches on you and knock you out in every round of the game.
Related article: Why Do UFC Fighters Have Weird Ears?
When is the Best Time to Clinch?
As a recap, amateur, upcoming, and pro boxers will clinch to take breaks, rest, and alter their opponent’s rhythm. It even gives you the advantage of hurling more blows at your opponents so that you get an upper hand in the game.
But when exactly should you give your opponent a hug in the ring?
Professional boxers don’t recommend clinching as a means to rest. So you have to look at it as a strategy that you can use to stay ahead of your opponent and implement it only if it’s necessary to do so
In other words, the best time to clinch is when you want to break your opponent’s momentum and induce a change in body position and fighting technique.
Can You Clinch At All Boxing Levels?
How much and how often you can clinch in a boxing game depends on the level of the fight and the referee. Many referees allow boxers to hug at all levels with the condition that the clinch doesn’t last for long. On the other hand, referees who push for non-stop fight matches will break up a clinch almost immediately, and fighters have to step back before continuing with the game.
As a rule, referees don’t allow clinches to last more than 3 seconds. But in the instance that it takes longer for the referees to break up the hug than for the boxers to fight their way out, it would make more sense to opt for the quickest option.
How Common is Clinching in Boxing?
Clinching in boxing is as old a technique as the game itself. It happens quite often, almost in every boxing round, and is, therefore, a common technique allowed in the game.
Boxers know that moving far apart from one another is a good way to risk a hard punch. So they’ll tend to get too close and clinch up. And while the referee will stop them anyway, often within 3 seconds max, hugging in the ring is a great way to control the risk of big punches.
Clinching in boxing is a great strategy that can last you in the boxing game from start to finish. Although it can only last so long, hugging in boxing is a great technique to use if you want to have a chance to win a fight.