Both boxing and Muay Thai are fantastic martial arts for self-defense, but would a Boxer beat a Muay Thai fighter in a fight? I decided to research the internet to find out.
Can A Boxer Beat A Muay Thai Fighter?
A Boxer would lose to a Muay Thai fighter 9/10 in a real fight. The Muay Thai fighter has 8 different limbs to strike from compared to the boxers 2, and Thai fighters are effective at all ranges. Thai fighters like Samart Payakarun even have WBC world championship boxing titles.
This doesn’t mean the Boxer can’t beat the Thai fighter, but they need to be very careful with the timing and they cannot get close due to the incredibly effective Thai clinch.
Either way, the Boxer will be at a massive disadvantage and I will explain why Muay Thai is so effective compared to boxing.
Why A Muay Thai Fighter Beats A Boxer
Muay Thai is known as the art of the 8 limbs as you can strike with your hands, legs, elbows, and knees as it originated as a self-defense style in ancient Thailand whenever soldiers lost their weapons.
This is a massive advantage over western Boxing as the Thai fighter will only be weary of the Boxer’s hands, and Muay Thai fighters have very good boxing themselves.
Top-ranked Thai boxers such as Sot Chitalada, Khaosai Galaxy, and Samart Payakarun transitioned into western boxing and won international boxing titles like the WBC championship when they were a genuine title, unlike modern times with numerous different boxing federations.
A boxer could NEVER transition to become a Muay Thai champion if they never trained Muay Thai before, as Muay Thai is just so complicated to learn compared to Boxing. To see if you can train Muay Thai and Boxing at the same time check my post here.
I will explain the various advantages a Muay Thai fighter has over a Boxer.
Muay Thai Is Effective At Every Range
If you look at Boxing it is only effective in the pocket up close and personal with your opponent or the outside around medium range, not the ideal situation against a Thai fighter who can keep the distance and kick as well as clinch the boxer and wreak havoc with powerful knees to the stomach and head.
There is not a distance where Muay Thai is not effective. With fighting, you have three ranges, close, medium, and far. A Thai fighter has weapons for each range. Up close you have elbows and punches both in and outside the clinch.
At a medium distance, a Thai fighter has boxing, knees and leg kicks and body/head kicks, and at a far distance, the Thai fighter has a teep(front kick) jab and roundhouse.
You might think a Boxer wants to close the distance, but the Thai clinch is deadly and is one of Muay Thai’s biggest weapons which a Boxer will not know how to defend.
A Boxer’s best chance is keeping medium distance with rapid punching combinations to overwhelm the Thai boxer.
Either way, you can see a Boxer is at a massive disadvantage as they only have the medium distance to work with, with a Thai fighter being comfortable in al three ranges.
Muay Thai Has Calf/Leg Kicks
The biggest problem a Boxer has fighting a Muay Thai fighter is they only train to defend their head and upper body as modern boxing is only above the belt.
The Muay Thai leg kick is a super important part of Muay Thai and is the number one weapon against a Boxer. All a Muay Thai fighter needs to do is hammer the Boxers lead leg repeatedly to take one of a Boxer’s main weapons away from him; his footwork.
I can tell you from experience if your lead leg gets leg kicked you become more sluggish and it’s a lot harder to move. Worse still are calf kicks that are super effective and quite popular in MMA. You see Justin Gaethje(UFC fighter) uses it all the time as it reduces his opponent’s movements which is one of Boxings key strengths.
For Muay Thai fighters defending against a low kick is simple as you just raise your leg to check the kick but for a Boxer, this isn’t a natural movement and he/she would be at the Muay Thai fighters leg kicking mercy.
A boxer’s stance is a lot more side on than a Muay Thai stance(see the pic) which leads the fleshy(above the knee) bit of the leg more open to a leg kick which makes leg kicks even more damaging and easier to land.
Leg kicks can even end fights and cause TKO(technical knockouts)o see the above video for some examples, making a Boxer’s weakness even worse.
A Boxers Bop & Weave Is Less Effective Against A Thai Fighter
In Boxing, the ability to duck under incoming punches whilst firing a counter punch is a crucial part of the sport. Whilst this is very effective in Boxing doing it against a Thai fighter carries with it a lot of risks.
For example, if a Boxer is fighting a Thai fighter at medium range and they are exchanging punches, THEN a Boxer tries to evade Floyd Mayweather Jr style a Thai fighter will simply kick the boxer.
A leg is a lot longer and a bigger target than a fist so it will still hit the Boxer as they try to duck under, also a Muay Thai kick should be straight and with a curve at the end with the hips turn in making a hook shape making it by nature very difficult for a Boxer to avoid.
A Boxers bopping and weaving gives a Thai fighter ample opportunity to knee the Boxer’s head as they duck or kick as it’s only really effective for dodging punches in a straight line or hooks to the head.
Look at arguably the greatest boxer of all time Floyd Mayweather Jr Boxing defensive masterclass in the video below, he simply wouldn’t be able to defend like that against kicks as that defensive tactic wouldn’t work against a Muay Thai fighter.
Boxing Techniques Don’t Work As Well Without Gloves
Boxing relies on having to have between 8oz-12oz for fights and is very reliant on having big chunky gloves to defend punches with.
The issue is Boxing functions in a very narrow set of rules and cannot function outside of those rules. The Mike Tyson Peek-a-boo will be far less effective without the big gloves.
Whereas Muay Thai is a martial art designed in ancient Thailand for combat without weapons and is JUST as effective without gloves as it is with. You can still use your other 6 limbs without gloves with your knees, elbows, legs being unaffected by not having gloves.
With a Boxer, this just isn’t the case, so if a Muay Thai fighter fought a Boxer without the gloves, the Boxer would be in very unfamiliar water and his defense would not be the same; whilst the Thai fighter is quite a happy fighting without gloves and it’s super common to clinch barehanded so the Thai will again have the advantage clinching without gloves too.
The Muay Thai Clinch Is A Giant Weapon Weapon
Whilst modern Boxing has the clinch it’s more for defense against a rapid puncher or a way to disrupt the pattern of a fight.
With Muay Thai it is a HUGE part of the game and very important in MMA where arguably the best UFC fighter ever Anderson Silva used it all the time most notoriously against Rich Franklin.
The Muay Thai clinch allows can grab the opponent’s neck whilst kneeing him repeatedly in the stomach, enabling you to sweep(trip) your opponent or throw him using the various Thai clinch throwing techniques.
Whereas the Boxing clinch is much less effective and only for defense, a Boxer wouldn’t know how to defend against a Thai clinch and would be at a Thai Boxers’ mercy.
This makes Thai fighters very dangerous up close as if a Boxer closes the distance, all a Thai fighter needs to do is Clinch and they are in the world of the Thai fighter.
Muay Thai Has Throws & Sweeps
Despite Muay Thai being a striking art it has tons of grappling involved, such as the numerous sweeps and throws from the clinch, and sweeps whilst holding your opponent’s leg.
Modern Boxing has NO throws or sweeps and they wouldn’t know how to defend against the various Muay Thai throws and sweeps leaving them to fall painfully on the ground whilst defenseless and ready to get ground and pounded by the Thai fighter.
Ultimately the Boxer just has a very small toolbox compared to the Muay Thai fighter, and lacking the tools means they cannot guess when the attacks are coming as they only understanding punching.
How Do You Beat A Muay Thai Fighter?
This is how you defeat a Thai fighter in general not as a Boxer, which I will discuss later in this article.
Counter The Thai Body Kick
The Thai fighter’s most common weapon is the body roundhouse, as it is both quick and powerful and useful in medium to long-range fighting. To defeat a Thai fighter you MUST counter these kicks to make them think about using it otherwise you won’t win.
To counter you can use a low kick or a punching combination it doesn’t matter, just make sure you make the Thai fighter think twice about kicking otherwise it’s an easy loss.
Use Unconventional techniques
Using unconventional techniques, like a spinning elbow or back fist or a check to superman punch is very effective especially against Thai’s as Thai fighters are typically very traditionally and use the basics.
Winning a fight is all about interrupting your opponent’s rhyme so using unconventional techniques against a Thai is one of your best weapons for dealing with them.
Box With Combinations
Whenever you box with combinations. Thai fighters love the long guard (see the link for more info) and whilst it’s fine when dealing with a small combination(1-2) is a lot harder to use with a flurry of punches.
Punching with combinations will disrupt a Thai fighter as they cannot easily use the long guard to defend against several rapid hits to the stomach and face. Against this disrupts your opponent’s rhyme and makes them uncomfortable which his key to winning fights.
Don’t Throw Middle Kicks
The issue with throwing middle kicks is most Thai has been training Muay Thai since they were children so any middle kick whether it’s a teep or roundhouse is very easy for them to defend, with a check, grab or lean back.
This is why you should not throw middle kicks and instead throw leg kicks and high kicks that are a lot more difficult to defend as they cannot be caught and then countered.
Defeat The Thai Clinch
I’ve already spoken about how powerful the Thai clinch is, so reducing the Thai clinches effectiveness is the best weapon against it. Either grab the back(see the below video) or always put your hands in the opponents to make it harder for them to clinch you.
Now I didn’t come up with these ways to beat a Thai fighter rather they are Gabriel Varga a Canadian kickboxer who has won 6 kickboxing world titles. Check his video below for demonstrations of these techniques.
How Can A Boxer Beat A Muay Thai Fighter?
I still think 9/10 times a Muay Thai fighter will beat a Boxer as they have 6 deadly limbs in their fighting toolbox that a Boxer no only doesn’t know but worse lacks any experience in defending.
However, this is how a Boxer could beat a Muay Thai fighter. The Boxer needs to keep the action at mid-range to avoid both the Thai clinch at close distance and the low kick. The medium range still allows the Boxer to use their main weapons whilst giving enough distance to avoid leg kicks.
When a Thai fighter retracts the kick this is the time to come in and fire of 2-3 punches and get back into the safe distance. The boxer needs to use straight punches and long hooks, as uppercuts fall into. Thai clinch territory.
Since Thai fighters do not usually slip punches and instead block punches, he/she will likely cover-up after your combination allowing you to sidestep and fire off a devastating liver shot. Just repeat this similar pattern to win the fight.
Alternatively, you can use your biggest weapon, straight knockout punching power to end the fight. If you can trade a leg kick to land a powerful right cross it would only 1-2 strong punches to get a KO.
This strategy is risky because leg kicks are so powerful but it’s a good way to finish the fight early especially since Thai fighters traditionally start very slow.
However, either way, it will be very hard for a boxer to beat a Muay Thai if their name is not Mike Tyson for the reasons already mentioned. Thai fighters themselves also just have very good boxing in general.
Look at the video below of a Muay Thai fighter and Boxer sparring. It is difficult to who is who aside from one wearing Muay Thai shorts but it showcases just how proficient most Thai’s are with Boxing, and even in my gym we train and spar Boxing quite frequently.
Can A Traditional Martial Artist Beat A Boxer?
Now this question will always depend on the size of the fighters, how much experience they have, and what martial art they practice. But let’s assume this martial art is traditional and doesn’t have much if any sparring.
An average Boxer would likely beat average martial artist or even someone who has trained martial arts for several years. The reason is simple, Boxing like Muay Thai actively involves fighting and the art of trying to hit and no get hit.
With traditional martial arts that focus on one single death punch or breaking boards, they rarely spar if not at all. The majority of these arts will focus on technique, theory, and drilling without the heavy focus on combat sparring that Boxing has.
Martial arts like Taekwondo might have flashy, spiny kicks but these don’t have much real-life application. Boxing has 4 main strikes, the jab, cross, upper, and hook, and these are SUPER effective in self-defense. Just look at how important boxing is for MMA with numerous fighters like the Diaz brothers and Jorge Masvidal having strong Boxing roots.
Now I’m not saying martial arts are useless far from it, but sparring must be a key part of any effective martial art.
Martial arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo are very effective arts and are more practical to use than Boxing as grappling is easier to use in a street fight than Boxing; as fighting with bare knuckles carries with it a high injury risk to the hands, and in BJJ &Judo, they spar often.