If you’ve watched enough fights or been training a lot along with sparring and competition. You have probably heard the following statement or variations of it. “Hold the center of the ring” “Back to the center” “Stay off the ropes”
A great piece of advice but let’s dig further into what is affected when it comes to the center of the ring and why it is always sought for (or at least mentioned non stop by corners and commentators alike)
The most common reason of why the center of the ring is sought after in a basic sense is it gives the impression that you are the one in control of the ring making the opponent give ground and be forced to move around to find a way back in. When it comes to a basic idea of judging a fight “the one who backs off, appears to be losing” there is way more to unpack as it depends on effective aggression and what the person giving ground is doing.
However due to that basic idea it becomes very easy for a fighter to fall short on the judges score cards because all they saw was someone moving backwards. Which because of judges, another reason for people gunning for the center of the ring.
The judges can see you clearly
Here is a diagram of a ring, take note of where the judges sit
As you can see each judge’s view can become limited based on where the two fighters are going, where it becomes more of their best assessment of what is going on if someone is on the ropes or the corners vs the center of the ring where it is easier to see.
From this point of view you can see if it comes to clean hits. It’s 1 – 1 for both fighters. However going back to the diagram, one judge will be able to see what Canelo did in that position (Possibly 2 out of the 3 depending on which side of the ring they are on). For the other two judges, Golovkin has Canelo on the ropes and gets some shots in before backing off.
While there can be some benefits fighting off the ropes if you have the skillset, you have to make sure it shows that you came off the winner of that exchange.
Make them back off not wait for them to do so
Now we have an idea of what we are dealing with while in the ring, let’s see what is most likely to happen when both fighters are more determined to hold the center.
Most obvious is, exchanges are most likely to happen. Both of you are trying to be the one in control of the hill. So sparks will fly, a whole bunch of subtle strategies will come into play. How effective is your jab? How good is your defense? Can you get shots in while not paying the price? Are you able to use small steps to make the person over commit?
Also of course, there will be moments you lose the center. It becomes a case of how do you manage to lure the person into giving away the center so you can get back there forcing the positioning back to neutral? Losing the center does not necessarily kill your mobility options (unless you go straight into the ropes or corner) it just means you have to be a bit more precise and use subtle movement, effective aggression and defense to get it back.
This all expands further into so many other avenues when it comes to technique, setting up offense and defense which I will set aside for another time. This focus was just food for thought for the fighter, the trainer, the coach and the fight fans who watch two competitors put their skills to the test.
And as always keep training, keep studying fights and rebuild your game
Written by PJ the Fight Architect