What exactly makes the liver shot so effective? Those who are familiar with boxing and fighting will eventually feel the effects of this debilitating shot. Some have described it as being kick in the testicles but the location is in your gut. I describe it as simply crippling. When you get hit in the liver, you fall down. Your legs give, you feel like puking, and you want to cry to your mommy. Sometimes, it can take a second or two to sink in after the hit but when it does, pain ensues.
To those that have never felt a good liver shot, I know you must be laughing right now. The liver shot is a right of passage among nearly all hand to hand fighting sports. If you haven't been hit in the liver yet, you are not fighting enough. If you have experienced this shot, you understand clearly what I mean. From a common spectator's point of view, sometimes, it looks like a regular body shot, light even. You'd be smart not to underestimate this punch.
So know that you have a basic understanding of how much a liver shot hurts, how does it actually work? The liver is a vital organ. You would die if you were missing it. Unfortunately, your body has only so much space. Your heart and lungs are the most protected organs and well deservedly. Your liver is somewhat protected but there is a simply not enough ribs to protect everything. When the liver is punched, hit, compressed or stressed, it releases enzymes called aminotransferases. These enzymes are released into your bloodstream signaling that the liver is damaged. Your body recognizes this and react by rewarding you with excruciating pain.
The most common reaction to a liver shot is immediately grabbing and protecting your gut. It is usually followed by dropping to a knee or crumbling to the ground and curling up into a fetal position. Take note of Bernard Hopkins versus Oscar De La Hoya. Bernard Hopkins gave De La Hoya the first KO of his career via a 9th round liver shot. Ricky Hatton defeated Jose Luis Castillo via a thudding 4th round liver shot which forced Castillo to go to a knee.
The liver is located on the right side of your body. It is a very large organ that extends about 2 finger width under the right nipple all the way down slight below the lowest rib. When taking a deep breath, the liver actually extends lower. This is due to your lungs expanding and taking up more room forcing the liver lower.
The location of the liver is mostly irrelevant when a boxer faces another boxer with the same stance. This is a case where skill will determine the outcome. When a southpaw faces an orthodox fighter, that's when things get interesting. In boxing, stance is important to keep balance and be in a position to defend and attack. Boxers will almost never face each other square. Instead they will do a quarter turn. This reduces the space the opponent has to hit with and also give the boxer a good position to strike from.
When a southpaw faces an orthodox fighter, jabs become less effective. A southpaws strength will be his straight left hand and an orthodox fighter's strength will be his straight right. An orthodox fighter is used to throwing the left hook to the body in order to connect with the liver. This is a almost useless against a southpaw as the angle of his stance will take away much power from the left hook. Also, southpaws learn very early to defend their lead hand side, the right side. The liver is located on the right side. All it takes is a quick elbow tuck and the liver shot is neutralized. Some of you might be confused as to why southpaws have an advantage here. Shouldn't this be a disadvantage since the southpaw's liver will be closer to the opponent than the other way around? Yes, this is correct, however the closest punch to the liver from an orthodox perspective is the jab to the liver. In order to pull the off, you need superior speed as to not catch a counter up top. The other option for orthodox boxers is to throw a right cross to the liver. This can be done but your foot position is crucial. Your lead foot must be on the outside of the southpaw's lead or else the southpaw will dance around you. This will be especially hard as southpaws will always seek the dominate foot position when we punch. Quite simply, we are used to foot placement against orthodox fighters.
On the other hand, while is is true that the southpaw boxer must throw a longer punch in order to hit the liver of an orthodox fighter, this is easily negated because our opponent's liver is almost perfectly in line with out power hand. Our straight left is our best punch, even more important than our jab so we learn early how to utilize this tool. The straight left almost hits the liver head on. Another common punch I've seen is the defensive left uppercut. this punch is almost always in line with the body but only when the opponent is coming in. The key to this punch is to dodge or slip the right hand straight or cross, plant your feet and drive the uppercut with your legs. This punch is fast and powerful. This is a common defensive counter punch often executed by Manny Pacquiao.
During the beginning of a match/sparring session, show your opponent respect by setting up the punch. Do not just throw a straight to the body. You will get hit with a counter. Set up the punch by jabbing and then following with the straight down stairs. The good old 1, 2. Your goal with the jab is not so much as to do damage. By setting up the liver shot, you main goal is 2 things. One, you take away your opponent's sight. Cover his face with that jab and immediately follow through with the liver shot. Aim under his right nipple. The second goal is to raise your opponent's hands. Once the hand are lifted, the opening will appear. Fire away.
Dig deep. Don't punch for points. Dig deep into the body and compress that liver. The harder you dig, the more your opponent will feel it.
Step outside of your opponent's lead foot. This is a staple skill. You must maintain the dominant position before you execute the punch. Put yourself in a good position and be prepare for the worst. If you miss or the punch is blocked, you need to be in a position to defend or dodge a counter.
Commit to the punch. Execute the punch with boldness. Timidity results in hesitation. Once you throw the punch, there is a point of no return that must be realized. If your point of no return departs, do not look back. Throw that punch with commitment. If your punch fails, you can correct this with more commitment and your failures will be overlooked.
Expect the worst. Expect a counter. If you expect the worst, nothing will surprise you. Be ready for a counter or be ready for your opponent to dodge and block.
Punch with ferocity. Do not expect your opponent to go down on a single liver shot. Sometimes, it can be partially blocked or misdirected. Continue your assault with ferocity.
During mid to late boxing, you can feint your jabs to set the liver shot. Later as both fighters are tired, you will eventually be able to throw a straight to the body and have a good chance of hitting without the need to set up with a jab or a feint.
Do not telegraph the straight. Keep it tight and fast. Roll your right shoulder to hide the straight coming down the pipes. Practice this. Do not do it too often as you may become predictable.
Visualize the punch. Southpaws tend to be "visual" people in general. Picture yourself exactly as you would landing the liver shot. See yourself doing this. Imagine it. If you cannot visualize the punch, you will not be able to execute it. See the opening in your mind and fire. See the opening in the fight and execute. Let your mind visualize the punch and let your actions manifest it into reality.