‘If I could have one weapon to take into my next life, the left hook to the body is the one I want’ - HBO Boxing commentator Jim Lampley
The Mexican liver shot is perhaps the deadliest shot in boxing. Made famous by the pugnacious figures in boxing rings from Tijuana to Tapachula, it can freeze an opponent on the spot, rob the life from his lungs, and leave him lying in a crumpled heap. When a liver shot lands and a boxer hits the canvas, the brain might be screaming ‘get up’ but the body is deaf to its pleas.
If Mexico is famous for producing boxers, then its boxers are famous for producing the most vicious shot in the sport, administering the blow with surgeon-like precision, to where even the toughest can’t toughen up, breaking up the ‘breadbasket’, and crippling the core until the rest of the body crumbles.
It’s a shot that has been trialled and tested over the years further afield and by stars such as Bernard Hopkins in his KO win over Oscar De La Hoya; Micky Ward in his iconic battle with Arturo Gatti; and throughout the career of two-weight world champion Ricky Hatton, most notably in his win against Jose Luis Castillo. In that fight, Hatton shattered four ribs of the Mexican legend to propel his name into the upper echelons of boxing’s pound for pound lists.
The Ultimatum Boxing Punch Pad Tabletka 3.0 PWR is an elite piece of equipment for perfecting any and all punches in a fighter’s arsenal, but especially effective for that devastating left hook to the body. With its easy to use anatomic handles, wide circumference, and higher density foam giving thick padding, it provides all the safety and comfort for heavy-hitting and honing those all-important hooks.
Ultimatum Boxing went to Hatton’s gym in Manchester, UK, a city in northern England that produces fighters famed for their frenetic, fan-friendly styles and who utilize the same left hook to the body, with the Punch Pad Tabletka 3.0 to get Ricky’s thoughts on the shot he became famous for and to test the Tabletka among a new generation of Manchester fighters he is currently training.
You were famed for that left hook to the body, how did it come about?
RH: I used to spar when I was a teenager with Pat Barrett the former British, Commonwealth and European champion. I sparred with Pat and he hit me with a left hook to the body and it nearly snapped me in two and I thought ‘it’s not a bad one that!’ So then I worked on it as an amateur. I worked on it and worked on it and it was my favorite punch, and then when I went to Billy Graham he fine tuned it because it’s very very damaging a left hook to the body. You can shake the head shots off but once you get one in the floating rib around the side or one up the bread basket up the middle, sometimes its very hard to come back from that so I had a lot of success with it over the years.
How important is equipment like Tabletka 3.0 for training shots like that?
RH: Very important to be honest with you. Sometimes, it’s the accuracy when you throw a body shot, it’s so important because I was very fortunate I didn’t have any trouble with my hands when I was fighting. And for a body puncher that's quite unusual because you're constantly hitting elbows when you throw a left to the body or a right to the body. So yeah, I think the best equipment [is important], you start having problems from an early age it’s gonna come back to haunt you.
If you start getting hand trouble at the four round level and you hopefully want to be boxing for the next ten years. So if you're having trouble at that stage, so it’s very important to look after your hands when you’re a little whipper-snapper when you’re just getting into it. When you turn professional you’ve got to be professional from day one, and look after your tools and you can’t do anything with damaged hands in boxing so it’s very important what equipment you have and how you train.
Is the left hook to the body a trait of Manchester fighters?
RH: It would probably be. I think the Manchester fighters are all exciting fighters, got exciting styles, like Anthony Crolla and myself and even back in the day there was like Ensley Bingham and Steve ‘The Viking’ Foster they were always on the front foot and body punching is always a big big part. When I was the WBU champion and just starting to break through I was known for my body shots and maybe the kids they went into the gym and tried Ricky Hatton’s left hook to the body, or try and slip to the side and change the angle in order to get it in. I think boxing goes through periods like that.
When Naseem Hamed was at the top of the tree everybody wanted to switch it didn’t they. And when I was at the top of the tree I think everyone wanted to be body puncher and it snowballed. I think over the years boxers are starting to realize no matter what type of boxer you are you need to have a decent body shot in you, even if you’re a jab and mover and a long tall one. In a twelve round fight, you’ve got to have successful body shots banging home constantly to do the damage, slow your opponent down. The oldest saying is you hit the body and the head will follow. And no matter how old boxing goes it’s going to be the same to be honest.
Describe the feeling when you knocked out Jose Luis Castillo with a left hook to the body.
RH: I pretty much knew when I landed a left hook to the body you knew when the fight was over when you landed it and the effect that it had and as soon as I landed it against Castillo, there was a little bit of a delayed reaction. I shit myself at first and I thought ‘oh no he’s not going down here!!’, but he did. And yeah they were saying after he fight oh he may have seen better days Jose Luis Castillo the way he went down it’s not like him to go down like that. But then they X-rayed him after the fight and they saw I broke four of his ribs with one punch. So you see why he went down. I became famous for my left hook to the body and to do it against a Mexican legend because Mexicans are famous for their body punching, to do it against someone like that, it’s probably the best punch I’ve thrown in my life.
Is that something you want to pass onto the next generation?
RH: Absolutely. I’m an admirer of all styles of boxing but I like the attacking fighters, the pressure fighters, the body punchers, that’s my personal preference. But I try and train every fighter, we do the same workouts and the same physical exercises but when you pad someone who’s about five-foot-nine and stockey you can’t pad the same person who’s six-foot-one and big and a different build and frame.
So you’ve got to train according to the fighters style and build but no I think body punching is essential no matter what style you’ve got, because of the damage, even if you don’t knock them out with the body punch three or four good ones early in the fight even though you’re not knocked them out come the home strait rounds eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve they’ll be feeling the after effects of that so you can’t be head hunting doing 12 round fights, you definitely need a body shot no matter what style you are.
One of those fighters of the next generation is Bradley Rea, an undefeated 9-0 young professional who trains at Hatton’s gym with trainer Blain Younis and who tried out the Tabletka 3.0 for the first time and the two shared their impressions.
You work a lot with the pads and with boxers combinations. What sort of features do you like about the Ultimatum Boxing Tabletka 3.0?
Blain Younis: Yes. I’ve used a few cushions to be fair. My favorite one at the minute is actually a little bit too big in terms of the circumference. That one I’ve just used there, it was a nice size. And again, I don’t like them too light or too heavy. It had a decent weight to it, good cushion. Again it wasn’t too hard for the boxer’s hands. But the main thing was the circumference of it, it felt really comfortable to hold rather than being too big.
How important is the left hook to the body in a fighter’s arsenal
BY: Yeah, all the punches are. But I think the left hook to the body, I’m a big fan of body shots. We work on it quite a lot don’t we. up the middle left right but the left one tends to be one of your main body punches because most fighters are orthodox. So it’s an important shot. It’s a good shot. What we work on is setting it up. Setting up a body shot rather than whipping it away all the time. How you set the body shot up. That’s something we work on quite a lot. But when you do get it off, it’s a crippling shot that not many get up form if you do land it correct.
Bradley, how did the Tabletka 3.0 feel for you?
Bradley Rea: Really nice to hit again. Like I said, the body shot is the one we work on quite a lot. Sometimes on some pads it’s hard to land clean or it feels uncomfortable hitting. But it felt perfect when I was throwing the shots in. Not too hard and not too soft, make a decent noise when you hit them, really nice and comfortable.
How would you both rate this equipment for training that left hook to the body?
BY: Yeah yeah really good to be fair you can feel it as you put it on, the quality of it and that. You can tell it’s made out of good quality leather. It’s decent for training any shot really.
BR: Yeah definitely. Same as Blain, like you said as soon as you put it on you can tell it’s top quality stuff, it’s not cheaply made or whatever it’s gonna be long-lasting. It feels really nice. I'll definitely be using them a lot more in the future.