Return to Sender

By Ted Sares on February 7, 2012
Return to Sender
Marquez is a joy to watch and may be the second best counterpuncher in boxing today


“A fine technician, Duran would move his head, slip punches, stay in punching position, feint and counter with deadly accuracy.”—Monte Cox

“I’m just saying that, you know, if [Pacquiao’s] having a problem with Marquez, I mean, Marquez is a good counterpuncher, but I’m the best ever to do it.”—Floyd Mayweather Jr.

For a politician sometimes criticized for being too soft to win a political fistfight, Barack Obama has shown an uncanny ability to take a punch and then rear back and deliver one in return. He attacks and sorts out the details later, and sometimes he doesn’t even bother to sort them out. No apology, no immediate regret, just a sharp counterattack. He perhaps knows that counterpunchers survive off of their ability to counterattack. Now let’s segue to crafty Juan Manuel Marquez, and other great counterpunchers who also had an uncanny ability to take a punch and then rear back and deliver one in return, but they did it with more style and skill.

There are several levels of defense in boxing, including speed, ability to take a punch, blocking or shielding punches, head movement, foot movement, awareness (which requires the most skill), and my favorite counterpunching and counter defense. Anytime a smart fighter throws a punch, he or she should know what will probably be returned. If one telegraphs and dips the uppercut and/or throws it from too far back, the hook will be on the way, just as Evander Holyfield did with Buster Douglas. Watching the great Juan Manuel Marquez put on a counterpunching clinic against Michael Katsidis should be mandatory watching for anyone interested in mastering this technique. And he didn’t do too badly against Manny Pacquiao either. His use of feints to counter Manny’s movements was a joy to watch. Marquez may be the second best counterpuncher out there today.

A prime James Toney knows this technique, and of course, so do Guillermo Rigondeaux, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones Jr., Fast Eddie Chambers, a prime Joel Casamayor, and Chad Dawson. Further back, the three Sugars, Pernell Whitaker, Ricardo Lopez, Chris Byrd, the underrated Marlon Starling, slickster Jimmy Young, the immortal Salvador Sanchez (who would go to his foe thus drawing the lead and then countering), Eddie Mustafa Muhammed, Mike McCallum, Wilfred “Radar” Benítez (who was simply astonishing to watch as he countered with effortless ease), Jerry Quarry who did it with malefic intent, Joe Louis, Jersey Joe Walcott, Harold Johnson, Chuck Davey, Jose Napoles, Miguel Canto, and Roberto Duran among many others. Pinoys Gerry Penalosa did it and Nonito Donaire does it. Underrated Greg Haugen’s counters were short, sharp, and punishing.

Notwithstanding that for the most part counterpunchers are slippery, defensive-style fighters who often rely on their opponent’s mistakes to gain advantage, whether it be on the scorecards or more preferably a knockout, there are few who mold their entire fighting style around this technique. More often than not, they combine counterpunching with being a good defensive fighter like the great Willie Pep—maybe the finest pure boxer ever—or a bomber like Joe Louis.

But what happens when two great counterpunchers meet? Judge for yourself.

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  1. johnwriter60 03:26am, 02/11/2012

    “Return to sender.” couldn’t be more appropriately titled.

  2. the thresher 05:59pm, 02/09/2012

    Dollar, thanks buddy. Titles are my signature. In fact, I’ll come up with a title first and then write an article around it.

  3. dollarbond 12:03pm, 02/09/2012

    One of the things you do best is with your titles.  The ones in your crime book are really neat and so is this one.  My favorite was Chester the Molester.  how’s that for a little bete noir.

  4. Not Good Boxer 01:42am, 02/09/2012

    Well, Just ask your friend BOB ARUM his opinion about it…I know you are close to him…

  5. mikecasey 12:48pm, 02/08/2012

    A great art indeed and some great names are given their just dues here.

  6. Don from Prov 09:03am, 02/08/2012

    God bless a great countperpuncher????


    Geez, where’d that come from?  Anyway, they are great artists and I always feel I could get a good education by watching Marquez with someone more knowledgable than I to point out the subtleties.  Floyd =more front & center.

  7. Don from Prov 08:59am, 02/08/2012

    Ah, I loved this article—


    As I do all the really informative ones.


    God bless a great counterpuncher!
    Harold Johnson was known to do it a bit.

  8. jofre 08:55am, 02/08/2012

    Good counterpunchers are becoming a lost art.

  9. TEX HASSLER 06:30am, 02/08/2012

    You usually end up with a dud fight when two counter punchers meet. Counter punching is the sweet science at it’s best and “fun to watch,” as Bob M. said. Marquez is a good fighter and will probably be remembered as that years later. Many of us know that now.

  10. Bob Mladinich 02:38am, 02/08/2012

    Counterpunching is beautiful to watch as long as both guys aren’t doing it. Nothing is worse than watching two counterpunchers in “action.” As Ted points out, it is pure artistry in a fight like Marquez-Katsidis, but in a bout such as Jones-Hopkins II, I’d rather watch the grass grow,

  11. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 10:18pm, 02/07/2012

    Ted Sares- Joey Giardello could do it too!

  12. pugknows 06:10pm, 02/07/2012

    Great title.

  13. johnwriter60 04:37pm, 02/07/2012

    when ‘defense” preempts offense, setting the situation in motion, when it is aggression in play, might as well begin the count…one…two…

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