Practical Boxing Terminology

Here is a list of words used in connection with boxing, fighting and contests, of interest to practical boxers. Some of the old boxing terms are explained.


Attitude - an old boxing term for guard.

Back fall (throw) - a reaping throw used in old boxing. Multiple variants exist.

Bareknuckle fighting - one way to describe old boxing. There were no gloves and, until the mid 18th century, no rules at all - only conventions and ad hoc agreements. Figg won fights with a hip throw and a choke-out on the ground.

Bottom - an old word for guts, spirit, courage.

Boxing - the term used in English to describe the art of fighting principally with the fists. All boxing for thousands of years has been bareknuckle, and often included striking and wrestling since it was a fighting method; the current gloved sport, with punches only, is a very recent innovation. Boxing is the oldest of the striking-based martial arts, with a documented history originating in the Greek period about 2,400 years ago at around 400 BCE. This was the first regularly recorded instance of the Western form of the art, although it has a global coverage; also the first regularly recorded iteration anywhere, although there are many earlier fragmented and isolated examples, such as Egyptian drawings.
The Romans adopted the Greek method, and popularised it more widely; they brought it to England. The British seem to have curated it during the dark ages until it regained its previous popularity in England in the 18th century, with regular and well-recognised title fights. There are mentions of it in earlier literature including Shakespeare.
Of course, it was not just a European fighting method - the countries of Indochina have a rich history of boxing. Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Laos all have their own indigenous forms, of which muay Thai ('Thai boxing') is the best known. Nigeria has a form of boxing known as Dembe. And so on - boxing is a global fighting art with a very long history (certainly far longer for a single, named and classifiable striking system than any other). We know the names of boxers in ancient Greece more than 2,000 years ago; who won the fights; and what technique was used. No other combat system based on striking has this length of history. Wrestling, though, has both a longer and more distributed history.
All classical boxing included punching, striking and wrestling, since they were fighting arts not sports. Most if not all also included or added weapon training, for the same reason. The life of James Figg, the 18th century English boxing champion, and the first champion of the modern era, shows how boxing was a thoroughly integrated art and combat system; he was a master at arms, the undisputed boxing openweight boxing champion, and fought two types of bouts: boxing only (i.e. unarmed combat with no rules), or boxing plus weapons in multi-round multi-art challenges: a challenger would come with sword, staff, cudgel (short staff) and fists, and expect to be accommodated in some or all of them. Figg was unbeaten in boxing and in multi-weapon/boxing fights, though we know he lost a sword-only fight with master swordsman McBane.

Broughton, Jack - known as the Father of Boxing because he implemented the use of hook punches, gloves, and rules. Before Broughton, hooks were a type of swing that connected with the knuckles; he was the first boxer known to have punched the hook out instead of swinging it around. All classical boxing worldwide had only straight punches, swings and strikes: there were no true hook punches before Broughton - at least in recorded history.
Broughton introduced gloves at his gym to protect the faces of his new, wealthy clients. Eventually, they became used in contests; and in time the punching methods changed so that boxing was only practical when wearing gloves - without them, people broke their hands. Boxing became about gloves, in a way; it became a combat sport, was no longer a combat system, and lost about 95% of its combat efficiency.
Broughton killed a man in a title defence, and began to think about making the contests safer in some way. This was before the transfer of gym gloves to contests. He created his own list of boxing rules, which came to be known as Broughton's Rules (there were no rules before this, only conventions). Later these formed the LPR Rules, or London Prize Ring Rules. These gradually became added to, so that after a time the current glove-only, punch-only combat sport was the only version practiced.
Although it is obviously true to say that Broughton is the father of modern international boxing, he is also responsible for killing off old English boxing, which was a comprehensive and efficient fighting method.

Callus - the thick, tough durable and pain-impervious form of skin found on the heels of the feet. Any area of the body that is exposed to frequent heavy surface loads and abrasion will develope callus. It melts away and returns to soft skin when the the stress processes cease.

Chopper - the old term for a bottomfist strike (aka hammerfist), especially one with a downward component. Mendoza was an old-time boxer who used it a lot.

Claret - old slang word for blood.

Classical boxing - boxing previous to the current glove sport era. Old-time boxing was bareknuckle, with no rules to speak of. The fighters used punches, swings, other strikes, wrestling, and throws. The key factors we can see in comparison with today's boxing are:

  • The punches were different, as they had to work for hitting the head without handwraps and gloves on, without breaking the hands. Their punching was far better for this purpose than today's boxing, which essentially depends on wearing gloves.
  • The strategy was different since it was a fighting system not a sport.
  • The tactics were different because the boxer employed a wide range of techniques, not just punches. Boxers had to be able to wrestle and throw, for example.
  • Old boxing was highly usable for fighting without any rules or referee - as that was what it was for, and was even contested in that way too. The way they combined punches and throws was efficient for fighting, and clearly different to today's form.
  • Their footwork was crude by today's standards and is best forgotten - quickly.
  • Their defence was equally crude, partly because it was seen as weakness to defend well. Best ignored, today.
  • Modern boxing has far better footwork, defence, speed, combinations and angles. Its main problem is that it is high-risk using it bareknuckle since the punching technique has changed significantly in order to take account of the gloves used now, and is nothing like the old style, which was designed for punching to the head without gloves.
Classical pugilism - old boxing by another name, and most often used to describe bareknuckle fighting in England (also Ireland and America) from about 1600 to 1850. We really only have documentation from about 1700, and by 1850 the old school was on the way out.

Classic swings - all traditional boxing had 4 swings, which we could refer to as the 4 classic swings of old boxing. This was universal: a global factor. Old boxing had universal use of straight punches and these 4 swings, along with other strikes depending on location, and with no hooks as we know them today.
These swings are: the front swing, back swing, overhand swing and upward swing. The overhand swing has been replaced by the downward hook punch, and the upward swing by the uppercut. Some fighters still use the old methods occasionally and this is best seen in MMA, where the old moves are allowed; for example Chuck Liddell used the overhead swing, and Khabib N. uses a front hand upswing.
The swings connect with the topfist and distal radius, the bottomfist and distal ulna, or the 2nd knuckles fist edge.

Conventions - before Broughton's Rules, there were no rules in boxing, only conventions. One convention that was introduced after Figg's reign as champion was that the round ended when one (or both) fell, and a new round began 30 seconds later. In Figg's day, the boxers would sometimes continue on the ground if they wished. All boxers at that time could wrestle competently since wrestling was a component of boxing - as soon as a clinch was entered, the fighters would attempt holds, short strikes and throws.

Count - a time counted out by a ring official subsequent to an event in a bout.
Originally, in 18th century English boxing and subsequently, a count of 30 seconds was allowed for a downed man to get back to the mark, or he was beaten. There were no rounds as we know them: as soon as a man went down, the count started; it stopped when the downed man reached his mark (a line scratched in the turf of the ring, or marked on the baords if the ring had a timber floor) or at 30 seconds, signalling a win for the standing opponent.
Since fights could easily go to 40 rounds in the bareknuckle era of English (then international) fights, it means that one man must have gone down 20 times or more. However, a knee touching the ground was counted as the end of a round, so not all of these instances would be a knockdown from a blow. Of course, throws were allowed too, so some rounds ended on a throw.
In early fights such as those in James Figg's era, boxers would accasionally continue on the ground after one or both fell, since there were no rules.

Counter-punching - a defensive method by which a boxer evades or blocks an attack and strikes back. The best counterpunches are almost simultaneous. Efficient counters score because the attacker is unable to block the counter.
A counterpuncher is a boxer who prefers to defend and counter.

Croydon Boxing System - a hybrid boxing system developed in south London gyms and principally at the Croydon Gym (Sir Philip Game Centre) between about 1978 and 1988. It combines modern boxing, old English boxing and its integral wrestling, Thai boxing and assorted techique from other sources. Its aim is to provide exceptionally effective multiple opponent defence along with the capacity to compete in various contest formats in order to improve fighting ability. Its unique features at the time of its development are the old bareknuckle fist positions, combining boxing with wrestling, and training methods such as the Bundle (a padded-up no-rules multiple opponent sparring exercise in the ring that simulates a mob fight).

Curved blow - one old term for a hook punch.

Declined fist - a fist position at the punch endpoint: a horizontal fist position with the index finger knuckle lower than the little finger knuckle, instead of being level. The decline fist is seen (1) at the endpoint of a downward hook; and (2) in a screw punch with extra twist at the end, to get more cutting potential (there is no power gain).

Defence - modern boxing's defence is far better than that in old boxing. For these kinds of issues, see: Footwork.

Down - in boxing, 'down' is an important stage in a bout because in general, at least more recently, ground fighting is not allowed and therefore when a man goes down the action ceases - or is supposed to. Figg is reported to have won a bout with a hip throw followed by a choke-out on the ground, so it seems that in the early part of the 18th century, English boxing had a catholic view of what was or was not allowed.

Draw - as in, 'you just need to get a draw'. A common street fight scenario where a defending victim assaulted by multiple opponents, and being a skilled fighter, takes the battle to a point where the opposition decline to attack any further. They have, say, one down sparko, one on his knees moaning, and the one or two left then figure it's not worth it: the defender looks too strong. Everybody walks away (apart from those on the deck). So your aim in this situation is to do enough to get a draw: those left standing walk away. You don't always have to beat everyone in sight.

Eyeline - the upper height limit for a targeted punch in old boxing. Punches were generally kept as low on the face as possible, and none were used above the eyeline, for fear of breaking the hand on the skull. Feint - an attack that starts out toward one target but then strikes another, and similar tactics. Example: the 'up jab' - a jab that starts out toward the stomach but then re-targets to the chin without stopping or pulling back; so its path is a curve.

Footsweep - a type of sweep in which (usually) the sole of the foot picks up and sweeps away the opponent's ankle. A core move in judo, where it is called ashi barai. There are many different footsweeps. A person who is a master of sweeps on top of their usual fighting system is a dangerous opponent: no one can be sure of keeping their feet* against such a fighter.
* An English idiom for being able to remain standing.

Fighting - boxing was a combat system, a method of fighting, until recently. Today it is a sport with a large number of rules, in which everything except striking with the forefist is prohibited; but boxing in the past was a comprehensive and effective fighting system. Boxers had to be able to punch, strike, wrestle and throw; and many would also either train with weapons at the gym or have knowledge of weapon use from daily life.
People routinely carried a staff, cudgel (a short staff) or sword in the 18th century, and knives were part of normal clothing.
Figg and Broughton for example were masters at arms, and taught the sword and buckler (a small shield used for aggressive defence in swordfighting); the cudgel (a short staff or stick; and the quarterstaff - a long staff typically adjusted for length according to the height of the wielder; and held for much of the work with the hands at the quarter points (at the end, at one quarter up, halfway, and three quarters up, paired according to the strike or defence used.
The most common hold was at one-quarter up and halfway, giving a striking end between 3 feet and 4 feet long depending on the length of the staff (which could be up to 8 feet long). If one hand was placed at the end and one a quarter way up the staff, a heavy, smashing blow could be delivered that would break or bend any sword.
The grip was also adjusted for end point thrusts to for example the kneecap or face: a knee break ended many quarterstaff fights. The quarterstaff was expected to win any staff versus sword encounter, unless the swordsman was highly skilled and the staff wielder a beginner. Figg fought many challenges with boxing and weapons. Figg and Broughton fought demo matches with sword, staff and boxing.
Boxing in its heyday was all about fighting; and all about defeating opponents whatever they brought. Its main use was almost certainly seen as a way to defeat armed and unarmed robbers, footpads and thieves. It was not a sport, and its sporting functions were viewed as a good way to practice and to observe the skills of the best fighters. The best fighters would have been seen as those who were best at defeating any attackers, singly or in groups, armed or unarmed - not a boxer who could only 'fight' in a contest.

Figg, James - the first undisputed boxing champion of the modern era. The first well-documented bareknuckle champion (others are mentioned sporadically in the ancient Greek era).

Fist - the closed hand, especially as designed to be used for striking with, usually on the front surface and mostly employing the knuckles.

Footwork - one of the key areas where modern boxing is light years ahead of old boxing. Others are defence, angles, and hooks. The footwork, movement and positioning in old boxing is best described as crude by today's standards - see for example the straight right. We use their punches because the modern versions and tactics are often no good for street boxing; and their wrestling/thows because they are likewise superb for real fighting; but some parts of old boxing are clearly obsolete - and the footwork and defence are the worst of the bunch.

Grappling - a catch-all word that means any kind of wrestling, stand-up or groundwork. It has a use in order to avoid misinterpretation: all wrestlers, judo, and jujitsu exponents are grapplers; but you couldn't call a judoka a wrestler as it is liable to be misunderstood.

Guard - the defensive position of a boxer. It refers to the hand position and the stance.
In modern boxing, the most popular guard is based on a sidestance of some kind - the lead foot is turned inward. This is because the horizontal fist mode of punching that is currently popular works well and perhaps best with this stance. Think Philly shell, shoulder roll defence - that kind of thing - impossible without a side stance. Of course, it cannot be used in fighting unless the opponent is a beginner; too easy to 'roll you up': just walk in and throw you.
In bareknuckle boxing, sidestance could not be used because (1) vertical fist straight punches - the mainstay of old-time bareknuckle boxing - do not work with a sidestance; this form of straight punch requires a front stance of some kind (or any other stance where the front foot is not turned inward); and (2) fighting out of a sidestance when opponents can hold or throw you is high risk for no gain.

Haymaker - an unskilled swinging punch with a wide arc. Typically the #1 move used in a street attack. The archetypal 'big right'. Duck or it will knock you down: a hard shot for sure, but one you should see coming.

Headbutt - a very common street attack that all must be wary of. The concussive power of this attack often means it knocks the victim down.

Headlocks - a catch-all term for any kind of head control including chokes, chancery, Thai necklock, face bars or anything else where the head/neck is locked in some way. It means nothing specific except that the head and/or neck are held in some way.

Hook - short for hook punch: a way to punch in an arc invented (at least in the modern era of boxing, post 1700), by Jack Broughton, the English (and world) champion. Before this, a hook was a swinging strike that impacted with the knuckles; Broughton was the first boxer we know of to punch the hook out, not swing it.
All classical boxing has straight punches and strikes only - no hooks. This was a global paradigm shift initiated by Broughton.

Horizontal fist - the fist alignment at the impact point of a punch: thumb at the side, palm down. Straight punches use a horizontal fist in today's sport of international boxing because handwraps and gloves are worn, and these protect the hands from breaks that would occur from using the hand in this position without the protection.
(Some boxers today break their hand almost immediately in a fist fight on the street, which is partly due to using this hand position; obviously this would have been untenable in the old bareknuckle boxing.)

Hybrid boxing systems - modern combined fighting arts designed specifically to be effective in fighting in a target area or areas.The first of these was Boxe Française, invented by Charles Lecour of Paris, around 1840. He created a 50-50 mix of Savate (French kickfighting) and English boxing.
A more recent example is the Dutch school of Thai boxing, invented about 1978 by Jan Plas of Mejiro Gym, Amsterdam. He created a 50-50 mix of Thai boxing and International boxing, and with its efficient combination of boxing and low kicks it has influenced fighting for 40 years.
The Croydon system of practical boxing was developed between 1982 and '92, and combines an equal mix of boxing, old English bareknuckle boxing, Thai boxing, and wrestling. It is a hybrid boxing system designed for ultimate efficiency in street boxing (boxing for self-defence), and can be used in ring contests.

Mark, the - the old boxing term for the aiming point at the centre of the solar plexus (now commonly called the 'celiac plexus', though far less accurate for this purpose).

Milling - (1) Wild, continuous, uncontrolled punching.
(2) The milling guard: a popular guard in old boxing right up until 1900 or so: a circular, vertical movement of the hands to confuse the opponent. The hands were kept moving in circles. When one fist was at the top of its circle, the other would be at the bottom. We can see good examples of this in the old B&W film of Bob Fitzsimmon's last fight.
(3) 'Milling' is a training method used to build spirit in the Paras (British Paracute Regiment), in which soldiers are matched up in a padded ring space and ordered to attack with milling - continuous hsrd punching - to knock down their opponent. Any soldier who boxes instead (punches skilfully / accurately) faces punishment.

Movement - a key component of modern boxing and part of the reason for its superior performance in striking engagements. Movement in old boxing was poor by comparison. A hybrid boxing system will use the old punches with today's movement and defence, which are considerably better than the old versions.

O'clock - (o/c, etc.: 'of the clock') The clock face, its hour positions, and a way to define angles in boxing. An easier alternative than a compass face and its bearings. Common in all fighting even jet fighter dogfights - example: "Watch your 6!", meaning watch your 6 o'clock position, i.e. directly behind you. 12 is ahead, 3 on your right, 6 behind, and 9 on your left.
Or we can use a compass bearing: 0 degrees is in front, 90 degrees is on your right, 180 is behind, 270 on your left, and 360 = 0 or where you get to if you go through 270 to get there - e.g. "Spin 360 and strike with the back swing".
Generally, it is simpler using the clock face.

Old boxing - a term used on this website for boxing before gloves and extensive rules were introduced. John Chamber's rules (the 'Queensberry Rules') began to be used around 1870, mandating gloves and prohibiting wrestling, and so classical pugilism ('old boxing') began to die out from around that date. As for a beginning date: poor documentation is available pre-1700, the beginning of the 18th century. Boxing contests are known to have taken place before this, but information is scant.

Palm down - a way to describe the hand position in a punch, typically at the endpoint. Example: a hook punch can be delivered with the palm down, or with the thumb up (and palm to the side). It is another way of describing the horizontal fist position, as against the vertical fist position.

Palm heel strike - a common attack in old boxing. There were two main types: the straight thrust and the round strike. The heel of the palm is hard to injure, compared to the knuckles, and so it was used to reduce impacts on the knuckles; or if the knuckles are bruised; or when a strike is a better option than a punch.

Power level - in old boxing, a straight punch could be delivered with a choice of 3 power levels: light (a snap punch), stiff (a medium power thrust punch), or hard (a full power thrust punch). With the left hand, we therefore get: a jab, a stiff jab, and a straight left. With the right hand: a snap right, a medium cross, and a hard cross.
See also: snap left, snap right.

Pugilist - boxer, espcially an old-timer.

Punch - a blow struck with the forefist: the front surface of the fist including the knuckles.

Punch pad - or punching pad, punching board, makiwara (Okinawan Japanese): a training device used for toughening the knuckles. The pad or length of timber such as a 4x2 is often wound with rope, perhaps with padding underneath, enabling the pad to be punched. Three processes then begin to allow the knuckles to be formed into a better tool for punching with: the bones strengthen; the cartilage of the knuckles becomes reprofiled, causing the shape of the knuckle to become rounded instead of sharp; and the skin over the knuckles is replaced by callus: a thick, tough form of skin also found on the heels.

Reap - a throwing move of the sweep type, in which the back of the leg is used to take out the opponent's leg. A reap was used in most of the back fall throw variations.
A big reap is a core part of many throws especially in judo.

Relaxed vertical fist - the modern way of using a vertical fist straight punch. For the orthodox fighter, using a jab: the thumb, if it were to be extended, is not directly at the top of the fist and pointing at 12 o/c; the fist is relaxed off so that the thumb points to 1 o/c or so.

Scuffle - a messy stand-up grappling to-and-fro without much progress either way. The #2 bet for where many street fights get to (#1 is they start by throwing a big right at you).
Scuffles end up with either a skilled fighter throwing the attacker, to successfully defend; or both going to the ground when the defender knows nothing about wrestling. So your takeaway is: (1) be good at boxing, to defend against a sucker punch successfully - and to take it like a boxer if it came from somewhere out of your field of vision; and (2) boxers also need to be able to wrestle.

Shoulder fall (throw) - a type of back fall takedown in old boxing, not related to today's shoulder throw in any way. It uses an arm lever across the throat, a blocking leg in reap position, and leverage to force the opponent over backwards so they fall onto the upper back/shoulders.

Snap punch - the basic punch of old boxing: a straight punch delivered with light to medium power, to a shallow depth (typically 1 inch). In modern terms, a snap jab. Straight punches had 3 power levels and this was the lightest. The basic idea behind it is that it won't break your hand no matter where it hits; if it hits the target (eye, nose) it is hard enough to do some damage; it might get the opponent's chin up, giving an opportunity for a harder shot. Both left and right snap punches were used; another way of putting this is that left and right jabs were used; or that left and right leads were used.

Snap left - a left jab. This was the lightest of the 3 power levels for straight punches in old boxing. They had one more level than today's boxing as the straight left is no longer used (the hardest left straight shot).

Snap right - a right snap punch. The lightest of the right hand straight punches in old boxing. Commonly used as a right lead. Its advantage was that it would not break the hand if things went wrong, but it could lift the chin if it landed on the eye or nose where it was targeted.

Stance - the way of standing. That part of the guard that concerns the foot position and body attitude.
In boxing, movement is of far more importance than stance.

Straight left - the hardest of the 3 left straight punches: a left straight punch with all factors maxed out, very common in old boxing. For most of bareknuckle fighting's history, there were no hooks as we know them today. Therefore more emphasis was put on straight punch variations and strikes.
In the straight left, the boxer delivers the hardest left straight shot he can - typically to the chin. As well as hitting as hard as possible, the boxer uses an inertial power-up by stepping hard into the punch, ending in an extended front stance. The action of the punch is somewhat similar to a fencer's lunge attack.
The straight left is no longer used in modern boxing, mostly because it is an 'isolation punch': one that does not go well with others, and so is not usable in combinations. It is however still useful as a street boxing move because many attackers are not boxers, and do not have a defence sophisticated enough to negate isolation punches. It is of course delivered with the vertical fist.
The straight left is distinguished by its maximum power application; the inertial power-up with the step-in; and the finishing position in a lunge attitude, to a greater or lesser degree depending on the circumstances.
Note: the straight right in old boxing was the mirror punch to a straight left: stepping forward into a right hand punch with a stance reversal into right lead. This old form of stepping is no longer used in modern boxing, and so the term 'straight right' is incorrect now. The correct term for the hardest cross (a straight punch from the right, rear, side) is a power cross or similar. The term 'straight right' means to step forward with the right foot with a right-hand straight punch - which is not done now. We would also not use this in street boxing either because some of the old boxing footwork is just obsolete now and should be dispensed with.

Straight punch - a punch in which the forefist travels directly toward the target in a straight line.

Strike (1) - any way of hitting that is not a punch or kick.
Strike (2) - specifically, in old boxing, a way to hit with the hand and arm that was not a punch. It includes the 4 classic swings of global boxing.

Sucker punch - (1) A punch you didn't see coming, in a street argument.
(2) A punch of crude format that nevertheless scores in a contest. An excellent example is Chuck Liddell's overhand swing in his UFC fights.

Sweep - a throwing move where the leg is swept away from under the opponent. All kinds of moves can be termed sweeps, from kicks to reaps to footsweeps.

Swing - a circular or arc strike not employing the fist. The term is most often used for the 4 straight-arm swings of classical boxing: front swing, back swing (aka pivot punch), overhand swing and upward swing.

Takedown - a type of throw that does not involve lifting the opponent over your own body, and is often a snatch, scramble, leg hold throw, grip-assisted sweep/reap, or a strike-assisted sweep or reap.

Targeting - in old boxing, every shot was normally targeted at a weak point, and no punches were just fired off in the hope one might land - this could result in a broken hand.

Throw - any way to put the opponent on the floor that is not a strike.
Throws, as a class, include sweeps, trips, reaps, takedowns, unbalancing, 'pure' throws, and any other way of helping the opponent meet the floor without hitting them (although some takedowns do involve a strike of some kind).
Technically, a throw per se is a move in which the opponent is lifted and then manoeuvred over the body of the thrower.
Throws were an important part of old English boxing, the most common being the pickup & slam, the single leg pickup, the backfall reap and the hip throw.

Thumb on top - a way to describe a vertical fist position.

Traditional boxing - see Classical boxing (the term 'traditional' is hackneyed and has no real meaning); though it can be used to mean old boxing before thre modern glove era.

'Up to scratch' - old-time boxing was often conducted on a turf surface. The boxers faced each other a yard apart, each standing at a line scratched into the turf. When a knockdown occurred the fallen boxer had 30 seconds to get back to his mark, or lose.
From this boxing contest feature we get: 'up to scratch', 'up to the mark', 'toe the line'. If a product is not up to scratch, it is deficient in some way. It's not up to the mark. If a person behaves poorly they might be advised to toe the line or face the consequences. And so, boxing and sailing have provided us with many colourful phrases in the English language.

Vertical fist - the fist alignment at the impact point of a punch: thumb on top, palm faces to the side.
Straight punches used a vertical fist in the days of bareknuckle boxing as it has far less risk for hand breakage than the modern style used with gloves on: the horizontal fist (thumb at the side). So, a vertical fist straight punch (a jab, cross, etc.) has a the thumb uppermost, palm to the side, for efficient bareknuckle use.
No power differential exists between straight punches with different endpoint fist alignments; e.g. there is no difference in power between a horizontal fist straight punch and a vertical fist one.
In today's hybrid boxing systems we use a relaxed vertical fist: the fist is not held rigidly vertical, but is relaxed off a few degrees.
Vertical fist straight punches - especially the left - require a stance of some kind where the lead foot points forward, normally a front or back stance. A side stance does not work well with this fist position. This is one of the reasons why there were no side stances in bareknuckle fighting; and why today's gloved, horizontal fist boxing can use a side stance successfully.