We already know that the great Freddie Welsh had stamina to burn, but when it came to power, that was another story. Out of a 168 bout career he only scored 32 knockouts; even a ringside account of his decision victory over Willie Ritchie in 1914 to win the lightweight title gives tale to this lack of power, but also allows us to glimpse at what he was a master of. The following is from a ringside reporter’s view of the bout.
“[Welsh was able to] bounce three or four thousand light jabs off of the anatomy of Willie Ritchie and dance away. Satisfied to clinch, flop a right to the kidneys, grin, and do it all over again, his punches were harmless as the drop of a butterfly.”
Not a terribly inspiring account, unless one reads more into that three or four thousand jabs remark, and trust me, there is much to read.
Welsh, realizing his power deficit decided to make up for it with an active (very active) jab. What’s more he made a conscious effort to hone it to dialed-in laser accuracy so that while he could seldom hurt an opponent with one big punch, he could hurt a man by hitting one or two spots hundreds of times.
And that’s exactly what he did. Welsh would select seemingly one square inch flesh targets on an opponent’s face or body and zero in on those again, and again and again. This repeated punishment would accrue some major results as these unlucky targeted areas would begin to swell with the repeated abuse.
This focused jab attack is no mere guess at Welsh’s approach, he made it a major point of his training to hone his jabs accuracy by painting a single white dot on his heavy bag and put himself through numerous movement paces to make sure he could hit it unerringly under almost any movement conditions.
The following drills will allow us to start developing a bit of that Freddie Welsh pinpoint accuracy.
FREDDIE WELSH JAB DRILLS
First things first, you can paint a dot on your bag or apply a square of duct tape for your drill target.
· To begin we will simply fire our jab for a few rounds free-form, striving to hit the target and nothing but the target.
SIDESTEP RIGHT DRILL
· Get in front of the bag, fire a quick jab at the target then a fast side-step to the right.
· As soon as you hit right, fire that jab again.
· Complete as many rounds as necessary for the side-step jab to be just as accurate as the preliminary jab.
SIDESTEP LEFT DRILL
· You know what to do.
FEINT TO JAB DRILL
· Use any feint you have in your vocabulary but always come back to fire that jab and hit your mark.
· Feint a lead hook, feint a rear hand, shoulder feint, feint with the feet, use all the tricks but always bring it back to that pinpoint jab.
· Fire your preliminary jab on target.
· Envision a rush and wheel the rear foot to the outside and fire that pinpoint jab again.
· Fire your preliminary jab.
· Envision your rush but this time wheel to the inside and fire your pinpoint jab.
· Fire the preliminary jab.
· Duck and slide-step inside and come back up for the pinpoint jab.
· Retreat or wheel out immediately.
· Fire a preliminary jab.
· Hit the preceding duck-in jab.
· Duck back down and slide out rising up with a pinpoint jab.
Welsh was known for his constant motion, so at times he could confuse an opponent by coming to a stock standstill-dangerous for most fighters. Once he hit that standstill, with zero tell or telegraphing he’d fire that pinpoint jab and get back on the move.
· To drill this freeze jab, fire your preliminary jab.
· Hit some fast slips and bobs and weaves.
· Freeze, just for a bit---then fire with as little tell as you can.
Welsh was also known for “milling on the retreat,” that is, firing while moving backwards; let’s build this version of the pinpoint jab.
· Step in tight to the bag and place your forehead on it.
· Hit a quick slide-step to the rear and fire that pinpoint jab.
· It may take a few rounds to find just the right distance on your retreat step to give the jab the room it needs but it will come with time.
Once you have moved through these incarnations I highly recommend you taking them to the focus pads so you can keep honing pinpoint accuracy with even more movement at your disposal.
If you’re focus pads do not already have center-dots on them might I suggest hitting these with a square of duct-tape as well. Remember with the pad drills, don’t just aim for the pad, strive for honing in on the dot.
Once you take it to the ring, pick out one or two spots on your opponent’s anatomy and make those your targets of concern for your jab, Freddie Welsh style.