Cox's Corner

Slip and Duck Rates

By: Monte Cox

Feb 1, 2007

Last year I did a study on the slip and duck rates of some famous fighters. Counting defensive slip and ducks for a boxer is not an exact science, neither is counting punch stat numbers, but they are close proximities. It can be done with reasonable accuracy.

What constitutes a slip or duck? Basically a slip or duck occurs when a fighter uses defensive skill to avoid a punch by movement. A fighter is purposely moving the head to slip a punch such as a left jab, or ducking down to move under an opponents punch such as a left hook. Slipping and ducking is related to bobbing and weaving. When an opponent bobs and weaves he is normally using head and upper body movement to get inside. To count as a slip or a duck two things must happen. A) The opponent must be throwing a punch in range and B) The defender must actively slip or duck the punch. In other words, he must do something that MAKES the opponent MISS.

If the defender is bobbing and weaving but the opponent is not throwing a punch then that doesn’t count as a slip or duck. If the opponent misses on his own, that is he misjudges his timing or distance and the defender doesn’t do anything to actually slip the punch then that does not count either. I hope that is clear. For example if Muhammad Ali throws a 4 punch combination against Joe Frazier and lands three and misses one, that is just a miss, unless Frazier actively does something to make Ali miss by ducking under a punch. A slip or a duck is a fighter physically making the opponent miss. Once one begins to watch for this it becomes clear what is the difference between a miss and a slip or duck.

In order for a fighter to have a high slip and duck rate his opponent has to be throwing punches. If an opponent isn't offering much resistance and is being pounded badly then the observed boxer will not have a good slip or duck rate. Averages are hurt by rounds when the boxer one is observing is on the offensive and the opponent is not returning fire (for example covering up on the ropes). Also blocking a punch is not a slip or a duck. That is altogether a different skill. Some fighters are better at slipping and ducking, while others may rely more on blocking. If one wanted to add slip, ducks and blocks together a boxer’s total amount of successful defensive moves might be a bit higher. For purposes of this study I conducted only slip and duck rates.

When counting slips and ducks for fighters on film it is best to turn off the sound to get away from distracting commentary of the analysts and concentrate ONLY on the fighter whom you are counting the slips and ducks for. Examine only one fighter.

Here are results for five fights that I studied:

Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad Ali March 8, 1971

Analysis Frazier: Perhaps the most famous fight in history. Slip and duck rates for Joe Frazier were about 14 to 17 a round. He made Ali miss a lot of jabs and ducked a good number of hooks. Frazier’s best round was the 14th when Ali was very active. Joe slipped about 23 punches that round, but his average is hurt by other rounds. In the 2nd round Ali could not miss, his punching accuracy was very high. I counted 6 slips and ducks that round. Frazier also had a low total in the 11th round when Ali wasn’t returning much fire and appeared to be in trouble. Frazier has the highest slip and duck rate that I have encountered.

Roberto Duran vs. Esteban DeJesus 3 Jan. 21. 1978

Analysis Duran: This was a world lightweight championship unification match. My copy of this film is very poor, but I counted about 12 slips and ducks per round for Duran. Duran was a great defensive fighter inside. Roberto took DeJesus apart and looked good doing so. Offensively and defensively Duran put up a masterful performance slipping, ducking and countering effectively.

Mike Tyson vs. Pinklon Thomas May 30, 1987

Analysis Tyson: Mike slips about 11 punches per round. He Slips punches very well when moving in. This was perhaps Tyson at his awesome best, slipping inside and punching to the body. He threw nice combinations and dominated the action. It was all set up by his aggressive, slippery defense.

James Toney vs Evander Holyfield Oct 4, 2003

Analysis Toney: This fight showed that Toney could compete at heavyweight. He was in good shape too at 217 pounds. His hand speed was terrific in this performance as he systematically broke Holyfield down, especially to the body. Toney averaged about 8 slips and ducks per round where he made Holyfield miss. Holyfield missed a good number of other punches, but again simple misses do not count as slips and ducks. That is a pretty good job by Toney considering that Holyfield's punch output was below average.

Ricky Hatton vs. Kostya Tzyu June 4, 2005

Analysis Hatton: Hatton slipped less than 4 per round on average. His low total was not because Tzyu was not throwing punches. Press row had the fight even after 8 rounds, and they were still split after 10 rounds. Tzyu was very accurate with his punches, but Hatton walks straight in with little head movement. Hatton’s tough as nails, he’s busy and works hard to the body but he has no defense.

The next time you watch a film of one of your favorite fighters try counting the slip and duck rates for one of the fighters. Remember a true slip or a duck is when the boxer in question actually makes his opponent miss by a defensive move such as slipping his head or bending at the waist to avoid an intended blow. An opponent missing or being short with a punch is not a slip or duck unless the examined fighter actively makes him miss. Counting slip and ducks makes for an interesting study and one can learn a lot from it.