Crush Your Opponent with These Best 3-Punch Boxing Combos

Blog / Mar 07,2024

A solid foundation in boxing encompasses the mastery of the six fundamental punches, agility in all directions, and defensive tactics such as bobbing, weaving, slipping, sliding, and ducking. These elements form the building blocks for crafting more intricate combinations, or "combos." When under pressure, relying on two-punch and three-punch combinations becomes essential, offering a swift response without the luxury of time for contemplation. If you missed our previous discussion on two-punch combos, you may want to review it before proceeding.

A Brief Recap Of Boxing Combo

man in boxing pose

To ensure clarity, let's briefly recap: What exactly constitutes a boxing combo? It's a sequence of punches and movements designed for either offensive or defensive purposes. A successful combo involves landing punches, guarding against potential counterattacks, and swiftly evading retaliation. Here's a breakdown of the punch count number system for reference: 1 = Jab 2 = Cross 3 = Lead Hook 4 = Rear Hook 5 = Lead Uppercut 6 = Rear Uppercut.

Now, let's delve into the realm of three-punch boxing combos. If there are 36 possible two-punch combos (as discussed previously), then there are a total of 216 three-punch combos, excluding variations involving movement (like slips, pivots, or ducking). In this segment, we'll focus on mastering the most effective and adaptable three-punch combinations. Here are some pointers to bear in mind during practice:

  • Initiate each combo with your weight slightly shifted onto your back foot.
  • When executing punches, you have the option to throw them stationary or with a step; for the purposes of this discussion, we'll focus on combinations with a step.
  • Maintain balance between punches by adjusting your footwork as needed.
  • Keep your guard up throughout the combo, ensuring that one hand always protects your chin, and promptly return the throwing hand to the guard position after each punch.
  • Aim to vary your targets with each combo, alternating between body and head shots.
  • Always conclude the combo in your proper boxing stance.

The 1-2-3 Combo

Leading with the jab, let's explore the 1-2-3 combo: The jab serves as the cornerstone of this combination, setting the stage for subsequent strikes. 1-2-3 Combo:

  • Begin with your weight shifted towards your back foot.
  • [1] Jab:
    • Step forward with your lead foot while extending the jab.
  • [2] Cross:
    • As your jab returns to the guard position, initiate the cross.
    • Your rear leg catches up with the front step, pivoting into the shot as you extend the cross.
  • [3] Lead Hook:
    • Instead of advancing the front foot, pivot on it to execute the hook in place.
  • Reset to your stance.

Strive to cover the entire distance to your opponent with the initial two punches, ensuring you're within range for the hook without needing an additional step. If your opponent's head is well-protected, consider targeting the body with the cross before following up with the hook. Practice this technique in your boxing gym for greater control.

The 1-1-2 Combo

This combination involves a double jab followed by a cross.

  • Begin with your weight shifted towards your back foot.
  • [1] Execute the first jab:
    • Extend your leading hand and step forward with your front foot.
    • As you retract your jab, your back foot catches up.
  • [1] Before fully returning your leading hand to the guard position, swiftly throw a second jab:
    • Take another step forward.
  • [2] Follow up with a cross:
    • As your initial jab retracts, begin extending the cross.
    • Your rear leg catches up with the front step, pivoting as you deliver the cross.
  • Return to your stance. When throwing the second jab, consider shifting your front foot slightly forward and to the side (for orthodox stance: front + left; for southpaw: front + right). This adjustment allows for greater rotational freedom in your upper body, enhancing the power of the subsequent cross.

A common variation involves delivering the cross as an overhand punch (right/left depending on your stance), imparting a slight arc to the motion, potentially bypassing the opponent's guard to target the top of their head. Experiment with substituting different punches for the final shot following a jab. For instance, you might try the 1-1-6 (Jab - Jab - Rear Uppercut) or the 1-1-4 (Jab - Jab - Rear Hook) combos, adapting based on what feels most natural and effective to you. Shadowbox these combos to learn more about how to use them.

The 1-2-Pull-2 Combo

This combination is useful when attempting to counter after a 1-2 while evading an opponent's anticipated counterattack.

  • Start with your weight shifted towards your back foot.
  • [1] Jab:
    • Extend the jab while stepping forward with your lead foot.
  • [2] Cross:
    • As the jab retracts, initiate the cross.
    • Your rear leg catches up with the front step, pivoting as you deliver the cross.
  • Execute a pull back:
    • After delivering the cross, shift your weight slightly onto your front foot.
    • Utilize this weight transfer to push off your front foot, simultaneously retracting your rear hand to guard and stepping back.
  • [2] Follow up with another cross:
    • Throw it similarly to a lead cross, with a minimal or no forward step.
  • Return to your stance.

The pull back movement essentially resets your stance, but the rotational force generated by your extended rear hand facilitates a smooth transition into delivering the subsequent punch. This combo is particularly effective when countering a straight shot such as a cross (or perhaps a jab), making a rear hook an impractical choice for a counterattack. Consider experimenting with the 1-2-pull-6 variation, concluding the combo with a rear uppercut.

The 1-2-Slip-6 Combo

This combination allows for close-range engagement, concluding with a rear uppercut.

  • Commence with your weight shifted towards your back foot.
  • [1] Jab:
    • Extend the jab while stepping forward with your lead foot.
  • [2] Cross:
    • As the jab retracts, initiate the cross.
    • Your rear leg catches up with the front step, pivoting as you deliver the cross.
  • Execute a slip:
    • Step diagonally back and out with your rear foot.
    • Twist your upper body to load up for the next movement.
  • [6] Finish with a rear uppercut:
    • Deliver the rear uppercut without stepping, keeping your feet grounded.
    • Bring your rear foot back into position.
  • Return to your stance.

These are just a few examples of combos starting with the jab. Explore additional options such as the 1-3 Body-2, 1-2-1 with reversed footwork (left hand with right foot forward, and vice versa), 1-6-3, or even the triple jab (1-1-1) to diversify your repertoire.

Going Ahead With the Cross

In contrast to turn-based games, boxing doesn't afford you uninterrupted time to strategize your moves. Therefore, creating openings and timing your punches effectively is crucial. A well-executed lead cross, aimed at various targets such as the head, core, guard, shoulder, or chest, often forces your opponent to pause momentarily. Should your cross encounter a counter, it serves as a cue to halt the remainder of your combination.

The 2-6-3 Combo

Begin by shifting your weight towards your back foot.

[2] Cross:

  • Step forward with your lead foot while extending the cross.
  • As you retract your rear hand, synchronize it with your back foot catching up, and rotate your body to prepare for the uppercut.

[6] Rear Uppercut:

  • Maintain a stable base as you rotate your body with the uppercut.

[3] Lead Hook:

  • Shift your weight slightly to your back foot, creating space between you and your opponent.
  • Pivot your front foot in coordination with the hook. Reset to your stance.

The 2-3 Body-5 Combo

Shift your weight towards your back foot.

[2] Cross:

  • Step forward with your lead foot, simultaneously rotating your upper body to prepare for the hook.

[3] Lead Hook to the body:

  • As you rotate with the hook, synchronize your back foot with the step taken by your front foot.
  • As you retract your lead hand, rotate again to set up for the uppercut.

[5] Lead Uppercut:

  • Keep your feet grounded as you rotate with the uppercut.

Reset to your stance.

In this combination, emphasize the effectiveness of the hook and uppercut. Lure your opponent into guarding the liver area with the hook, then capitalize on the opening with the uppercut to the chin.

Going Ahead With the Lead Hook

The Slip-Slip-3 Body-6-3 Combo: When facing a taller opponent, incorporating slips into your combos at the outset can help close the distance and neutralize their straight shots. Shift your weight towards your front foot. Slip out:

  • Step back with your rear foot while simultaneously slipping towards it.

Slip in:

  • Step forward with your front foot while slipping towards it.

[3] Lead Hook to the body:

  • Rotate your front foot slightly as you pivot with the hook.
  • Rather than reversing your body rotation, continue the motion initiated by the hook, lowering your stance in preparation for the uppercut.

[6] Rear Uppercut:

  • Utilize the rotation generated by the hook to load up for the uppercut.
  • Execute the uppercut with your feet planted.

[3] Lead Hook to the head:

  • Direct the lead hook towards your opponent's head, pivoting your front foot slightly as you rotate with the punch.

Reset to your stance.

If your opponent throws a jab followed by a rear hook, evade the jab, roll under the hook, and counter with a 3-2-3 instead. Ensure the first punch is executed swiftly, considering the time lost during the slip, and take precautions to prevent strain on your lower back and knees from the rotational movements. Prioritize thorough warm-up routines and incorporate agility drills to enhance your leg strength and coordination.


As evident, there's a plethora of boxing combos to master. The ones highlighted here, along with the two-punch combinations mentioned previously, form a solid foundation for any boxer seeking a diverse arsenal of techniques. Practice these combos diligently in various settings, from sparring sessions to shadowboxing in front of a mirror or working on the heavy bag. Adapt your combos to suit different opponents and scenarios, combining two and three-punch sequences while integrating footwork variations. Record your training sessions to analyze areas for improvement and refine your boxing technique continually, ensuring you create opportunities for your punches while preventing interruptions from your opponent. These approaches will undoubtedly elevate your proficiency in executing basic boxing combos and enhance your overall boxing skills.