How To Throw A Cross (Ultimate Boxing Guide)

November 23, 2021

The cross is the second most used punch after the jab. It’s a straight punch with the rear hand, right for orthodox and left for a southpaw and it’s the power shot with the longest range.

Technically speaking a “cross” is a punch that comes over the opponent’s jab. The correct name for the cross technique is a right straight also called a “2”. But for easier use, the rear straight is predominantly called the cross.

The cross follows the same formula as the jab as it travels to the opponent in a straight line, but it can deliver much more power than the jab.

Let’s first dive into the correct technique and then we will go over the common mistakes and popular setups.

How To Throw A Proper Cross

How To Throw A Proper Cross
  • From a good boxing stance, punch with the rear hand without loading up. Just straight in front from where the hand is.
  • Pivot on the ball of the back foot, rotating your rear knee, hip, and torso with the punch.
  • Just before the contact twist your fist slightly, so the thumb is rotated towards the floor. This is the textbook boxing way.
  • Everything must be done in one motion, so the power of the body is transferred into the punch
  • Quickly return the punching hand back

The cross is one of the basic punches in boxing and it’s relatively easy to execute. It can be set up in a lot of ways and can also be thrown by itself.

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The force of the strike is generated by the twist in the body. First, drive the back foot to the ground, generate the power through your hips and lean forward slightly distributing the weight from the back to the front.  Don’t lead the hand first, the cross starts with the rotation of the body and the hand follows and delivers the force generated through the body. This is how to punch harder.

Common Mistakes When Throwing A Cross

Not Pivoting The Hips

I can’t stress this enough. The most common mistake, especially for beginner boxers who are afraid to commit to the punch, is not turning your hips. This leaves the punch completely powerless. On top of that without the twist and pivot, the cross can’t cover any meaningful distance.

Dropping Your Hands

This is a common mistake amongst all punches. While the rear hand is doing the punching, the other one should always be in a position to guard against any incoming attacks.

Loading Up

The straight punch is meant to be fast and strong. The punch starts from the guard. Any wind up in the shoulder or bringing the hand back to load will telegraph the punch and it will make it much easier to defend. While the loading up may increase the power, it becomes irrelevant if you can’t land it in the first place.

How To Add Power To The Cross

how to throw a right cross

The proper technique of the rear straight is done without lifting the elbow. But if you want to add more power to the punch you can flare the elbow outwards. This turns the punch more to an overhand and it makes it slower, but it definitely brings a lot more power.

The other thing you must do to generate more power to the cross is to sit down with your punch. Bend the knees and keep your weight down and centered, pivoting strongly on your back foot but without lifting it from the ground.

Punch with your shoulder relaxed, a straight punch is like a whip. Contract your muscles just before contact. If you are tense throughout the whole motion the cross will be slow and it becomes more of a push than an actual punch.

How To Use The Cross

As A Lead

The cross is very useful in itself. It can be used very effectively as a lead, but for this to work make sure you throw it straight down the pipe and as fast as possible. Fast straight punches are the hardest to react to.

The 1-2

The most fundamental combination in boxing is the jab-cross, or the 1-2. As simple as it looks it is one of the most used combos from fresh beginners to world-class boxers alike. So even if you are more advanced, make sure you revisit and analyze your 1-2 frequently and find ways to utilize it better.

Boxers like Wladimir Klitschko, Tyson Fury, and Muhammad Ali to name a few have demonstrated the destructive power of a laser-like straight punch.

The Real Cross

how to throw a cross

The rear straight is often a great counter. This is especially true for the punch that is the true “cross”. Its purpose is to cross over the opponent’s jab and land on his chin. The elbow Is pointing outwards and upwards, while the punch is corkscrewed with the thumb facing the ground.  

Cross To The Body

Right cross vs straight right

The cross to the body is very powerful. The execution is almost the same as the punch to the head, but you need to lower down bending the lead leg more. Aim for the solar plexus, move your head out of the center line and keep your lead hand high. A great combo to use is the jab to body cross.


A fast and accurate cross is much harder to react to than hooks and uppercuts while still packing serious power. As the fundamental rear hand punch, the cross is used in almost all situations except in close quarters. It can be practiced effectively on the heavy punching bag, pads, shadow boxing, and in partner drills. This guide covers the most important parts of how to throw a cross, so it’s up to you to put it into practice.

About the author 

Plamen Kostov

Plamen has been training for the last 14 years in karate and kickboxing, before settling in for MMA for the last 5 years. He has a few amateur kickboxing fights and currently trains with and helps a stable of professional and amateur MMA fighters.


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