Ring generalship or ring control is perhaps one of the most important areas of boxing. In fact, it is one of the central components of the scoring criteria of bouts. One hears of ring generalship often in boxing, but what qualifies as being the ring general and what doesn’t?
What is Ring Generalship:
It is as its name implies: control of the ring and leading the action of the bout. Simply put, you have ring control when you are the one dictating the pace and the action. This means that you initiate the exchanges, box in such a way that your opponent is the one who must make adjustments, stop your opponent’s initiations, and make the type of action that occurs in the ring favorable to you.
For example, in the recent fight between George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr., Groves was clearly and consistently the ring general. Groves jabbed in order to initiate exchanges; he boxed how he wanted to box while Eubank had to adjust to Groves’s style; he tied Eubank up on the inside in order to stop Eubank’s strategy of exchanging punches in the pocket; and he used proper footwork and positioning to mitigate Eubank’s aggressive style. However, Eubank could be said to have been the ring general at some times in the fight, especially in round 12; Eubank took control of the ring by doubling down on his strategy against an injured Groves. But for the most part, Groves was the ring general and so had superior ring generalship.
It’s important to note that dictating the pace alone or dictating the action alone does not make one the ring general. You have to do both; if you do both you will almost certainly be the ring general. The difference between dictating just the pace, instead of the action, is that the pace simply consists in how often and when you initiate exchanges, while action boils down to what type of exchanges they are and the effect of these exchanges. Going back to the example of Groves vs Eubank Jr., Eubank often tried to initiate exchanges many times which resulted in dictating the pace at times, but Groves stopped him from doing so (by, for example, tying up). In this case, the ring generalship of Eubank was lacking in dictating the action of the fight. Additionally, Eubank threw wild shots in an attempt to KO Groves which resulted in Eubank arguably dictating the action of the fight at such points, but such shots were ineffective due to Groves’s skills. In this case Eubank would still not be the ring general.
These examples show two other things about ring generalship: it’s possible that both boxers do not clearly have ring control in a match, and ring generalship requires consistently dictating the pace and action of the match. At some points within a match, one boxer can dictate the pace while the other dictates the action. Neither of them can be said to be in control if this actually happens. But over the length of a match, whichever boxer controls the ring by dictating the pace and action has ring generalship and is the ring general.
How to obtain Ring Generalship:
Here are a some common tactics to secure ring control:
Disturbing your opponent’s rhythm
Beating your opponent to the punch, stop-hitting
Throwing with bad-intentions
Roughing your opponent up
Tying up, clinching
Cutting off the ring
So what qualifies as being the ring general? Being able to consistently dictate or control the pace of the match, as well as the action of the match. One involves initiating the exchanges and the other involves determining the types of exchanges.