Boxing Styles: Swarmer, Slugger, Boxer, Boxer-Puncher

Boxers will generally automatically pick up a certain style. That style will depend on many things including the boxer's skill, quickness, aggression, ability to take a punch, and personality. Eventually as you begin to box more, you will probably find yourself fitting into one of the following moulds. The boxing styles are swarmer, slugger, boxer, boxer-puncher.

Styles are more of an instinct thing than a learned thing, but you should really know that in general, when certain types of fighters meet, the outcome can more or less be predicted based on the style they employ. As one of the coach's at my gym put it today, it is the trinity of boxing (even though there are 4 styles as boxer-puncher is a mixture of two of them). The rule is:

  • Swarmer beats Boxer
  • Slugger beats Swarmer
  • Boxer beats Slugger

Of course their is an exception to every rule, the anamoly, a boxer-puncher generally does a bit better against a swarmer because he has that extra power in his punches that do the damage to the swarmer.

Sidenote: Below I've made lists of boxers who you should do your best to watch. They have distinctive styles and it would be worth your while to find them on video. Clicking on their name will take you to a page of fights on video you can choose from. I'm working hard to find free decent footage of these individuals.

The Swarmer

The swarmer is the pure technical boxer's nightmare. A swarmer is aggressive and relentless. They will fight their way in close and unleash a fury of punishment. They can generally take a good hit and deliver a good punch. The punches are always in volleys and in close. They get inside to foul up their opponent's ability to throw their own counters. They are fleet of foot, and have phenomenal speed. This continuous pressure takes a toll on their opponents and they usually win the fight because they out condition the other boxer, not because they knock them out. However, with a boxer like Rocky Marciano, he would first tire out his victim and would still have enough left to deliver a crushing knockout blow.

The swarmer is also known as a crowder. Fights which have swarmers are usually pretty exciting to watch as there is always constant aggression and fighting. The swarmer gets in close, usually taking a few punches on the way in, stands in front of his opponent and delivers a windmill of punches and their opponent hopefully backs off or somehow gets away. Then it is game on again, the swarmer comes right back. There are no lulls in the battle. Every round is a full round. Obviously a swarmer's conditioning is beyond reproach. They are in the ultimate shape possible.

Some of the best swarmers of all time:

And one not so famous one: Me.

Sidenote: I am hardly a boxing history expert. However, I know where to find someone who is and that is where these names and others in this article come from. Feel free to visit his site: Monte Cox - Cox's Corner.

The Slugger

As the name suggests a slugger relies on power punches to knock his opponent out. That is why they are effective against a swarmer. Although the swarmer is inside throwing punch after punch, the slugger only has to connect with one and the fight is over. Sluggers usually have good chins and aren't afraid to take a few hits. They have to, because they are generally bigger and slower (not that you can't be big and fast). They throw fewer punches, but the ones they land do devastating damage.

These are the fights, most people love to watch because they end up with someone lying on the mat. If you get a good swarmer who can go the distance with a slugger, then the fight is fantastic. Lots of action and lots of hardcore hitting, perfect for the casual boxing fan to watch.

Some of the best sluggers of all time:

Notice Tyson is also listed as a swarmer. His power is incredible which gets him into both categories, however, his style is usually more of a swarmer.

The Boxer

Well, the name of this one sounds like he should take all and boxers are definately the nicest to watch technically. They are masters of their defense and their offense. They generally fight from the outside, come in to hit, and back off again. They generally do very well against sluggers because they are quicker and have more mobility.

Watching two boxers in a fight is quite boring. It is played out more like a chess match than a fight. To a person who doesn't know what they are doing, one could easily think they are both scared of each other. In reality they are cautious and looking for the right moment to strike. This is the reason swarmers really mess them up. They don't have the time to think and swarmers don't play by the rules so to speak.

The best boxers of all time:

  • Benny Leonard
  • Gene Tunney
  • Willie Pep
  • Tommy Loughran
  • Billy Conn
  • Maxie Rosenbloom
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Pernell Whitaker

The Boxer-Puncher

The last category is a hybrid. He possesses the technical skill and grace of a boxer and also the devastating power of a slugger. One would think this would be the best style to adopt and in actuality it probably is. Boxer-Punchers do well against pure boxers because they can match their speed and mobility. They do well against swarmers because their extra power stops the swarmer's aggression. Their only downfall are the big sluggers because once again, it only takes one punch and the lights are out.

They make interesting fights and throw a sense of the unknown into some. Where a boxer-puncher is matched up against a swarmer, the fight is great because depending on the style the boxer-puncher tries to use more could sway the way the fight goes. It's just another variable in the whole package.

Examples of this kind of boxer are:

  • Joe Gans
  • Joe Louis
  • Ray Robinson
  • Ike Williams
  • Alexis Arguello
  • Tommy Hearns
  • Erik Morales

In Conclusion

While you may not be able to choose what kind of style you will eventually adopt, you definately need to know what style you are fighting. With that much knowledge at least you can adjust your fight accordingly.

There is no hard and fast rule that says a swarmer is always going to beat a boxer or a slugger will always beat a swarmer. It is a matter of skill and conditioning. There is no reason a boxer cannot be just as conditioned as a swarmer and no reason they cannot beat them if they outmatch them in terms of skill. A million other factors are in play as well including the mental condition of the fighters. It's the unpredictability which gives every boxer hope in every situation and which gives the viewer an edge of their seat performance.

It's all in the style, baby. Box on.

So where do you go from here? Well, now would be a great time to put everything you've learned into practice and start training. The best way to do that is with the 12 week boxing training program which has been designed to condition you and help you learn the fundamentals. Maximize your success by going through the boxing nutrition guide to ensure you provide your body with the fuel it needs to train as a boxer.


yeh bro good read some valuable stuff to take in there ive been on and off boxing for the past 3 years and my coaches are VERY technical in their training trying to bring out the boxer in me so to speak. But as soon as i step into the ring, me beeing not a tall bloke, with or wothout beeing tagged i naturally, instinctively turn into a swarmer.

But Yeh i feel in control when im in close
p.s Don't forget Jack Dempsey, devastating swarmer

Hi so what was Julio Cesar Chavez and Marvelous Marvin Haglar considered as.

Julio Ceasar Chavez is a very calculating swarmer. He picks his openings and then puts on the pressure. You'll notice him stalk his opponents around the ring - usually backing them up.

Haglar - without a doubt - swarmer. If you have a doubt - watch the Hearns vs Haglar fight in Vegas (15 Apr 1985).

hey man
do swarmers use jabs as well as hooks and upper cuts?

Everyone uses jabs, no matter what style - the jab is the most versatile punch you've got going for you. The swarmer will use them to work his way inside or protect his retreat. Once inside, he obviously switches to some more close range punches, but it's even possible to throw some short jabs at close range. So, yes, absolutely, without a doubt, swarmers jab as well.

I have a few questions bro,what style would you say nikolai valuev is? and what style does the counter puncher weak to and more advantaged to? is it possible for someone who has adapted to being a brawler, to train and gain alot of speed and mobility and be as fast as an out-fighter?

what is a pacquiao, juan manuel marquez, and berto's style?

I love this article. I wonder how you can train to be a boxer puncher?

Boxer punchers are people who have drilled there technique and have good natural power on top of it.

My coaches are training me as Boxer/Out-side fighter but it's very hard for me. I get tired very easily, like in 5th round if I fight as a boxer type jump and run, I can't continue no more. In sparring I always go to close fighting. I throw good amount of punches but take good amount as well. Usually I hit pretty hard and knock my partner on a one clear punch. I'm not very tall though and my favovurite boxers are George Foreman and Joe Louis. What style is better for me?

im a swarmar and slugger

Hey this other website since to have quoted this article word-for-word in certain parts. Wanted to make sure he didn't plagiarize your article since it came out in 2011.

Here's the Link:

Thanks for notifying me - it is indeed plagiarized - copied word for word without my permission. I would suggest not using that site's article as one of your sources as I've asked the site owner to remove it immediately. Thanks again.

Hi. I didn't use that source as you said. The only part I really worked was the styles category, and I added the sub-category section. Heres the link-
I thought you might get your some of your advice on it.

I found out because I was editing the Boxing styles and techniques page and used both your pages as sources. My ID on there is alucard43.

On Wikipedia

So if slugger beats swarmer, swarmer beats boxer and boxer beats slugger, that must mean strength and power beats aggresion, aggresion beats speed and skill and speed and skill beats strength and power. I'm a combination of slugger and swarmer.

How do u train to become a slugger?
Can sluggers be small as well?

Not really man, punchers are born so sluggers tend to have their style whether they like it or not. You can train to be a swamer or boxer but to be a slugger is really a natural thing that can still be improved on.

So how would you label andre warf style? He does it all. Boxer which is speed, counter puncher which is speed/power, slugger which is power, swarmer which is aggression, boxer/puncher which is speed and power, southpaw which is to offset your opponents power hand. plus the numerous defensive styles he use. I guess he would be label a chamelon style.

Although there are different advantages that the styles have, I think it really comes down to who is better and who can more effectively impose their strategy on their opponent.

I'm deffinatly a slugger. I have 3 (offical) amateur fights under my belt 2 win by ko/tko and 1 loss by split decision. My trainer has always compaired me to a battleship. Slow, does not move alot, but with staggering force behind each punch, (including jabs) and he has told me he has never seen anyone "with a more solid jaw and thicker skull" than me. The fact that I have a 74 1/2" reach helps alot too. I'm 6'1" and 205lbs currently but my fights have all been at 180.

Well i am 5'7".5 and 156 pounds im a speedy fighter

im 5'10" 98kg i love to duck and slip but favour jabs and straights sometimes right hooks

what's the difference between swarmer and slugger?

Post new comment