The cross, which is more commonly known as the straight, is a punch thrown with your rear hand directly at your opponent in a straight line.
It’s the second most used punch after the jab, and is the best punch to use within mid-range to long-range. You should work extensively on your cross because:
- It’s the quickest way to reach your opponent with a power punch when you’re not on the inside.
- It’s easy to throw and set up, as well as thrown independently just as easily.
- It leaves you in a good position to follow up with other punches.
- When thrown correctly, it can generate a lot of power.
If you want to learn more boxing fundamentals, I recommend the How to Box in 10 Days course, which takes you step-by-step through the boxing basics.
The Fundamentals of a Cross
- Keep Your Guard Up (1): Always make sure that your lead hand is guarding your chin. This is especially important when you’re throwing the straight with no follow up punch.
- Fully Extend Your Arm (2): If you want to get maximum power, make sure that you fully extend your arm when throwing the cross.
- Distribute Weight From Back to Front: The power of the cross is distributed from your rear foot to your lead foot. You do this by pivoting your rear foot, rotating your body, bending your knees and leaning forward very slightly. All of this is done at the exact same time as the cross is thrown.
- Rotate Your Fist (3): Just before you hit the target, rotate your fist so that the palm of your hand is facing downwards towards the floor.
- Pivot Your Rear Foot (4): At the same time that you’re throwing the cross, pivot your rear foot. You should end up with your heel upwards, toes on the ground and facing exactly in the same direction as where your cross is heading towards.
- Rotate Your Body (5): Get the most power from your cross by rotating your body anti-clockwise (orthodox) or clockwise (southpaw) as you throw the cross.
- Sit Down on Your Punch (6): Remember to bend your knees as you throw the punch. This is to gain more power and also to maintain your balance.
- Keep Your Body Aligned to Your Opponent: Ideally, your chest should be faced towards your opponent when throwing the cross. If your opponent has moved too far to your left or right, then you’ll be out of position and you need to re-align yourself.
- Bring Your Hand Back: After you throw the cross, never leave your hand out there, or you may get countered. Always bring your rear hand back quickly to guard your chin.
- Dip Your Head to the Outside: This is not essential, but useful for several reasons. When you dip your head slightly to the outside of your lead foot as you throw the cross, you increase punching power because it forces you to rotate a bit more. It also helps to avoid any counterpunches at the same time and puts you in a great position to follow up with a powerful lead hook.
- Lift Your Rear Foot: Many fighters make the crucial mistake of lifting their rear foot as they throw the cross, causing them to be off balance. This is usually the result of overextending. Make sure that the toes of your rear foot never leave the ground.
- Put All Your Weight on Your Lead Foot: Distribute weight from your rear foot to your front foot to generate power, but don’t put all of it on the front because it will cause you to fall into the punch. This means that if your opponent moves or ducks, then you’ll either have to take a step forward with your rear foot to maintain balance, or you’ll end up falling onto your opponent. Both of bad because you may end up falling into a counterpunch that could mean lights out for you.
- Over Extend: Make sure that your opponent is within range when throwing the cross. If you throw from too far out, you can end up being off balance or worse, damaging your elbow joint.
- Step in With Your Rear Foot: After throwing the cross, you shouldn’t step forward with your rear foot, causing you to switch stances. It’s another common mistake that many fighters make (unless it’s deliberate). This usually occurs when you over-extend or if you’re throwing the cross from too far out.
- Load Up: Don’t give any indication that you’re about to throw a punch. Cocking back your arm to throw the cross breaks that rule. Since the punch is in your opponent’s line of sight, he can easily spot it and move out the way or counter you.
Setting up the Cross
The good thing about the cross is that it can thrown independently very easily and safely, but it can also be set up from a variety of punches. The following combinations flow nicely ending with the cross.
Jab > Cross
This is perhaps the most widely used combination in boxing, and for good reason. They’re both straight punches which can be fired off and hit the target quickly.
The jab can be doubled or even tripled up to get into range and set up the cross, but it’s a good idea to side step as you’re doing this to keep your opponent off balance. Coming in straight lines can be predictable and easily countered.
Body Jab > Cross
When thrown at the right time, this combination will usually catch your opponent completely off guard. The jab to the body makes your opponent dip forward and drop his guard slightly, then he’ll be open upstairs straight down the middle.
The body jab doesn’t always have to connect cleanly as it can just used as a distraction to set up the cross. Make sure that you don’t bend down too much otherwise it’ll just take longer to come back up.
Lead Uppercut > Cross
The uppercut cross combination should only be thrown when you’re in close to mid-range. If you’re on the outside, you’d be too far out to throw the uppercut.
Also, make sure that you dip to the outside of your lead foot when throwing the uppercut, so you’ll be in position to throw the cross more effectively.
Lead Hook > Cross
For this combination, when you throw the lead hook, make sure that you don’t put too much power into it because it’s only intended to be a set up hook.
If you throw with too much power and miss, you’ll end up rotating too far and even if you do hit the target, you’ll be slower to follow up with the cross. Both punches should be thrown with speed and accuracy.
The lead hook cross is great for setting up a mover also. If your opponent is near the ropes and moving to your left (from an orthodox point of view), then quickly throw your lead hook which your opponent should be moving into, then fire off the cross immediately after. You may miss the hook but you should be able to catch your opponent with your cross.
Mastering the Cross
If you’re going to try and perfect any power punch first, then it should be the cross. When practicing on the heavy bag, don’t aim for power but instead, work on your speed and accuracy. The following fighters have very technically effective crosses:
A precise and fast cross equals power and it’s much more difficult for your opponent to avoid a cross compared to an uppercut and a hook. Practice the jab and cross often and you’ll hold a significant advantage over your opponents.
To get the most out of your training, I highly recommend the following articles:
► How to Increase Punching Power
► 10 Tips to Improve Boxing Footwork
► Boxing Basics
► Top 10 Best Heavy Punching Bags
► Top 10 Best Boxing Gloves