In boxing, your footwork stance is foundational to your upper and lower body coordination.
If you’re new to boxing, you might be wondering: What is the difference between Orthodox and Southpaw?
In this article, I will cover some key information about Orthodox and Southpaw, including the key differences between them.
Let’s get into it.
What Are Orthodox And Southpaw?
Orthodox and Southpaw are the most common stances and determine footwork styles used by fighters in a range of combat sports, such as boxing as well as Mixed Martial Arts.
In the majority of circumstances, fighters devote their careers to specializing in one stance, and there are very few who master both.
The Orthodox stance is the most common boxing style, and suits the vast majority of right handed fighters.
This stance is when a fighter places their left foot forward, whilst their right arm and foot remain behind them. In this stance, the fighter’s left arm becomes their jab hand, also referred to as a lead hand.
The stance means that a fighter’s left side is closer to the opponent. However, their strong backhand sits in wait to send a powerful straight.
An Orthodox stance is common in both boxing and MMA. This primarily comes down to its suitability for right handed fighters, who make up the majority of fighters in these sports.
The stance’s hand-foot positioning is applicable across all categories and weight divisions and is accessible for both beginners, amateurs, and professional fighters.
Some of the most renowned boxers who fight with the Orthodox stance include Muhammed Ali, Wladimir Klitschko, Terrence Crawford, and Floyd Mayweather.
The Advantages Of Orthodox Stance
By far, the biggest advantage of using an Orthodox stance is that there are more fighters of this type in the combat universe. Bearing this in mind, trainers for Orthodox fighters are more accessible.
In addition to this, an Orthodox fighter is more likely to fight against the same, and will meticulously train for other Orthodox fighters.
As a result, their opponents’ tactics and strategies for a fight are more predictable, allowing the fighter to act in accordance with that.
However, in the same breath, being an Orthodox fighter can also have its drawbacks.
Namely, this comes down to the fact that they’re used to Orthodox opponents, and thus may not do well against Southpaws as they don’t have as much experience against them.
In the Southpaw stance, fighters stand with their right foot forward and their left foot and left arm back. This technique is rare because the majority of fighters are right handed, with better and stronger right hand coordination.
Two world renowned examples of the Southpaw stance are the boxer, Manny Pacquiao, as well as the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter, Conor McGregor.
As the strongest hand is always at the back, the Southpaw stance favors left handed fighters. As a result, they can land an explosive punch with their left arm.
The Southpaw stance gives fighters a better defensive style against their Orthodox opponents and clear opportunities for accurate body shots.
The Advantages Of Southpaw Stance
The largest advantage of being a Southpaw boxer is that there are fewer Southpaw boxers out there.
This is an advantage as the vast majority of Orthodox fighters will fight other Orthodox opponents, as opposed to their Southpaw counterparts.
Bearing this in mind, they can easily catch their Orthodox opponent off guard, giving them the opportunity to confuse and overpower them.
As Southpaws are used to fighting Orthodox fighters, it makes detecting and anticipating their punches easier as well as their combat moves predictable.
This aspect has the capability to surprise Orthodox fighters, whose attack and defense strategies can easily be predicted, leading to them losing fights.
Therefore, fighters who use a Southpaw stance tend to have better control during fights.
What Is the Difference Between Orthodox And Southpaw?
There are various differences between Orthodox and Southpaw stances that any budding boxer should be aware of.
Laterality & Foot-Arm Orientation
The most obvious difference is laterality and foot-arm orientation.
Laterality is the preference of one side of the body to the other, particularly when it comes to tasks. This is relevant when we think of being left or right handed.
A big difference between the Orthodox and Southpaw stances is where they place their feet and arms.
In an Orthodox stance, the left foot (paw) takes the front, whilst the right foot and arm remain at the back. In a Southpaw stance, the right foot is placed in front, with the other foot and left arm behind.
Southpaw fighters, who are primarily left handed, are seen to have an advantage in the ring over their Orthodox competitors.
This comes down to the fact that Orthodox fighters train to fight other Orthodox fighters, as there’s simply more of them.
As a result, Orthodox fighters have a much harder challenge of predicting their Southpaw competitors, and generally have less experience fighting them in the ring.
Generally speaking, the lateral advantage that Southpaw fighters have over Orthodox fighters cannot be argued with.
This comes down to the high probability of Southpaw fighters making it to an elite level of performance in various combat sports.
Additionally, the vast majority of Southpaws have a much higher chance of outperforming Orthodox stance fighters when it comes to long-range punches.
Due to the lack of space and sensitivity bias, they have the ability to develop stronger left-right hand power.
On the whole, Southpaw fighters tend to benefit the most from their ability to introduce elements of surprise in the ring, catching their Orthodox opponents off guard whilst also changing the dynamics of the fight.
Another key difference between Southpaw and Orthodox is rarity. There’s no getting away from the fact that Southpaws, and left handed people in general, are pretty rare.
In fact, left handed people only make up roughly a quarter of the world’s population.
As a result, only a handful of these people take up combat sports, such as boxing or MMA, and turn it into a career. As a result, this indicates that left handed fighters are fairly rare to come by.
Southpaws predominately train for Orthodox fighters, who are the most likely opponents, given how many of them there are in the world as well as the world of combat sports.
In addition to this, 1 in 10 combat sports fighters is left handed.
Bearing this in mind, being left handed in this sport is clearly advantageous, as they have no space sensitivity bias when compared to Orthodox fighters.
As a result, Southpaw fighters have a huge advantage when it comes to being on the offense, as well as the defense inside of the ring.
Can You Be Both Orthodox And Southpaw?
Yes, it’s possible for a fighter to be both orthodox and southpaw. When a fighter can do both, they’re referred to as a switch hitter.
That being said, it’s more common for a fighter to commit to one stance, and devote their time to mastering one or the other.
Some fighters choose which stance they want to learn regardless of their stronger hand and sometimes even use a combination of both, though this is pretty rare to come across.
A famous switch hitter is Mike Tyson, who could switch between Southpaw and Orthodox stances in boxing matches.
For the majority of fighters, there is little to no point in being proficient with both, so this is why the majority of fighters will pick one stance to get comfortable with and then master the craft throughout their fighting career.
Which Is Better: Orthodox Or Southpaw?
This depends on who you ask, as everyone’s got their own opinion on which is better. As I’ve already discussed, there are advantages and drawbacks to both Orthodox and Southpaw.
That being said, it’s important to recognize the clear upper hand that Southpaws have. An advantage (over orthodox fighters) is that, statistically speaking, there are fewer southpaws out there.
Bearing this in mind, Southpaws are notoriously difficult to fight, as both Orthodox and Southpaw fighters mostly encounter Orthodox fighters. This gives them a clear edge against their competitors.
In addition to this, Orthodox fighters often fight more Orthodox fighters, meaning that Southpaws can catch their opponents off guard, even if they’re weaker, slower, and less-skilled than their Orthodox counterparts.
The fact that Southpaws have infinitely more experience against Orthodox fighters than Orthodox fighters have against Southpaw fighters therefore cannot be underestimated.
However, in the same breath it cannot be overlooked that the majority of the greatest fighters in the world are Orthodox.
Just because a Southpaw has more experience fighting Orthodox fighters, doesn’t automatically mean that they will see the win.
As I’ve already mentioned, there are more Orthodox fighters out there, meaning that Orthodox fighters have access to some of the best trainers out there.
In addition to this, they largely know how to prepare for a fight against other Orthodox fighters, and are often familiar with the strategies of other Orthodox fighters.
How Do You Decide Between Orthodox And Southpaw?
If you’re someone that is interested in learning to fight, you might be wondering how an individual decides between Orthodox and Southpaw.
The answer to this question largely depends on whether you’re right or left handed.
Left handed boxers are generally taught to fight in the Southpaw stance, and this therefore means that right handed people are taught to fight in the Orthodox stance.
That being said, when you are first learning how to box, you will naturally want to put your dominant hand forward.
However, your natural instincts are not right in this instance. You want your dominant hand to be in the back, and to jab with your non-dominant hand.
This means that you can deliver a powerful punch with your dominant hand when the moment is right and the opportunity presents itself, leaving a much longer lasting impression on your opponent than if it was with your non-dominant hand.
Once you begin boxing, and gain more experience in the sport, you can start to switch your stance when you’re sparring.
However, mastering one stance is recommended, as opposed to switching stances on a regular basis. It’s incredibly rare for a boxer to learn to box with two stances, which is why you typically choose one.
So, that’s all you need to know about Orthodox and Southpaw.
I hope you have enjoyed learning the differences between these two stances used in fighting, and this article has given you a better understanding of both Orthodox and Southpaw.
If you’re interested in boxing, why not research gyms that are near you and give it a try? You won’t know if you’re any good until you do, so give it a go.
Good luck trying out boxing!
About The Author: Ahmed Mir
Ahmed Mir is the founder of MMA Boxx. After a weightlifting injury redirected his athletic journey, Ahmed discovered a passion for mixed martial arts (MMA), immersing himself in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai.
Beyond the mat, Ahmed lives in Thailand and is a seasoned entrepreneur, earning recognition in notable publications such as Entrepreneur, Legal Zoom, and The Washington Post.
As the visionary behind MMA Boxx, he’s dedicated to fostering a community where enthusiasts can explore the world of MMA.