Is The Jab a Lost Art?

Charles TownsendContributor IAugust 23, 2010

I recall after the Mosley – Forrest fight, “The Viper” stating after his first win over Sugar Shane that a good jab will always beat speed. This statement may be easier said than done, but was proven with his dominating win over Mosley. The same was true in their second fight, although Mosley gave a more spirited effort, Forrest was still able to stabilize his opponents speed and give Mosley his 2nd consecutive loss. This is just one example of one of the most overlooked techniques in boxing. There are only a handful of fighters who have mastered this skill set, which has baffled even elite fighters when up against a jab pugilist. But the question remains, why is the jab consistently lacking in most fighters arsenal?

The answer to that question is a lot simpler than most would believe. The jab is bad for business. When you take a look at most fighters today, they all have one thing in common; they’ve traded effective boxing for a more exciting style. Not a bad investment, KO’s and all out wars sells tickets and increases television ratings. The only problem is, not everyone can duplicate the success of Mike Tyson with sheer ferocity and haymakers.  And unless you’re a phenom such as Floyd Mayweather, or Roy Jones pre 2002, the simple an effective non power punch could be their best investment.

Often times a fighter will start with a jab, to only abandon it when there’s a sense of losing rounds or wanting to land that big punch out of pride, or in the case of Oscar De La Hoya, frustration. The first half of the De La Hoya – Mayweather bout appeared to go back and forth. De La Hoya’s effective jab, which backed "Money May" into the ropes constantly bothered the P4P king the first 5 rounds. This strategy seemed to be working, making a case for the Golden Boy CEO in having rounds scored in his favor. But as soon as his frustrations of not being able to land something significant, he would then try to head hunt one of the best defensive fighters in boxing today. The progressive disappearance of his jab resulted in yet another loss for Mr. De La Hoya, who then admitted in the post-fight interview he should’ve continued to use it. Another example of a fighter falling victim to his own arrogance.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, there are only a handful of fighter who coveted the underrated punch, and it became a staple of their boxing style. Aside from Vernon Forrest, another fighter comes to mind who was a specialist of the aforementioned punch throughout his entire career. His rocket like jab, more of a power punch than distance closer, earned him the moniker “Bazooka". For the casual fan I'm speaking of the Ghanaian legend Ike Quartey. What he lacked in head movement and technical skill, he more than made up with a bruising jab. For those who are just starting out in the sweet science, it would benefit you to watch some tape of Quartey, and the evidence shown on most of his opponents faces the results of his dedicated and feared punch. More notably, watch his dominance in the middle rounds of his bout with De La Hoya, which most feel "Bazooka”, received a bad shake, and you'll learn to appreciate the importance of this dying art.

In a more recent event, the jab was the deciding factor when Amir Khan dominated the "Magic Man", more accurately known as Pauli Malignaggi. The slickster Malignaggi was a favorite to win the bout was kept at bay by Khan's long snapping jab, which set up combinations which were unavoidable and could've lead to a stoppage. I can honestly say, it was refreshing to see a young talent stick to the fundamental punch and remained patient while his opponent’s defense was left vulnerable.

Maybe it’s not as lost as I've previously stated. And if Khan's display is any indication of the jab's resurrection, as avid boxing fans, we can appreciate this age old arts relevance as we enter the future of the sport.