What is The Philly Shell in Boxing? Complete guide


Have you ever heard the term Philly shell and wondered what it is? If you have, you’re not alone. In fact, many people that train in boxing don’t know what Philly shell is and how to identify it. So, let’s examine what it is.

The Philly shell defense is a stance in boxing that allows the boxer that uses it to defend himself better than the typical stance. Essentially, your leading hand needs to be under your chin while your rear hand should rest at a 90-angles degree under your shoulder.

Even if you’re unaware of what it looks like, you’ll most likely recognize it once you see Floyd Mayweather standing in a fight.

It’s such an iconic stance that people recognize it by seeing Mayweather simply stand. In fact, he dominates his competition, as it’s more effective than the regular stance.

This article will examine the characteristics of the Philly shell defense and explain more details about it. If you don’t know the basics of boxing, it’ll be best if you stick to the regular stance, as it’s less complicated and easier to learn.

So, let’s examine how it works and various instances where it has proved to be effective.

How does the Philly shell work?

Today, many elite boxers use a unique defense stance to gain an advantage early on. In fact, when Bobby Green created the Philly shell, boxers didn’t know how to defend against it. As a result, those who used it- found it to be more effective than it is today.

The Philly shell is essentially a defensive stance that utilizes having your lead hand under your chin while your read hand is under your shoulder in a resting state. Additionally, you can also use your upper back to block some punches, primarily straight punches, and jabs.

As much as I like the Philly shell, I want to emphasize that not everyone can use it. In fact, if you’re a beginner, it’ll be best if you stay away from it since it takes more time to learn than the regular stance.

Nonetheless, you can start with it with the risk of losing motivation because you won’t learn it as fast as the regular stance.

In the elite levels, boxers utilize defense as offense. For instance, Floyd Mayweather will block a hit only to follow up with one of his own. As a result, his opponent won’t be ready to block it, as he just threw a punch. Therefore, Floyd can cause massive damage quickly and thus, gain the advantage.

Can you use the Philly shell in MMA?

MMA, or mixed martial arts, is a platform for fighters to showcase their fighting style. Additionally, fighters can combine many martial arts to create the ultimate style. Because of that, its entertainment value exploded and became a global sport.

You can use the Philly shell in MMA, as it’s a part of a defensive fighting style in boxing. As a result, some MMA fighters, such as Bobby Green, utilize it to dominate their competition since fighters don’t know how to attack such a defensive state.

As I mentioned, attacking the Philly shell is more challenging than the regular stance. Hence, it’ll be even more challenging in MMA because this stance comes from boxing, which is less known to MMA fighters.

Additionally, regardless of their style, all the fighters can stand however they want. As a result, some MMA fighters specializing in Kung fu have traditional stances, which are always entertaining to watch.

To summarize, the Philly shell is legal in MMA, and some fighters even use it. However, MMA is less about stances than dynamic fighting techniques to beat an opponent. Therefore, the more dynamic a fighter you are, the more likely you will dominate your competition.

Does Floyd Mayweather use the Philly shell?

Floyd Mayweather is known to use the Philly shell as his defensive state. He uses it in such a way that his competitors have trouble landing a powerful hit on him, as he’s constantly moving and utilizing this stance.

Moreover, Mayweather brings other reasons for why he’s considered one of the best boxers worldwide, such as fast instincts and fierce punches.

Nonetheless, the Philly shell contributed to his success and his boxer rank. Because of that, I recommend watching Mayweather in action if you want to learn how to use it as your regular stance.

Why using the Philly shell defense is wise.

Using the Philly shell- may be a cornerstone in a boxer’s career. However, as more and more fighters learn about it, its relevancy declines, as more people will learn to attack it properly.

So, here are 4-reasons why using the Philly shell- is wise.

  • You can roll your shoulder to defend against punches
  • You can use your back to stop punches
  • It’s a dynamic stance
  • Few are the fighters who use it

The Philly shell is as robust as it is because you can use your shoulders to block your opponent’s punches. For that reason, you may notice that Floyd Mayweather rolls his shoulder more often than most fighters.

Additionally, you can use your back with a shoulder roll to defend against offensive moves, such as jabs or straight punches. As a result, the Philly shell is exceptionally effective for blocking punches using your back.

Moreover, the more fighters use the Philly shell, the more other boxers will be eager to learn more offensive moves that counter it. As a result, its relevancy and effectiveness will begin to decline with time.

Lastly, you may notice that the fighters who use the Philly shell- are incredibly dynamic. That’s because the boxers who use it- can combine many techniques to create their style and play around with it. Consequently, being on the offense- becomes easier, as your opponents will have a challenging time defending.

Is Philly shell good for beginners?

Philly shell is one of the most advanced defensive stances in boxing. As a result, the people who can properly learn to use it- are advanced and have a few years of experience under their belts. So, is it suitable for beginners?

Philly shell is unsuitable for beginners, as it takes plenty of time to learn it, more than the regular stance. As a result, beginners may get discouraged by starting with it because it takes time to learn. For instance, the traditional stance may take up to 1-month to learn.

martial art
Image by cristoeuf from Pixabay

Nonetheless, everyone is different. As such, while some may find it incredibly discouraging to learn, others may thrive on the challenge.

As a result, you may find it less challenging to learn and more enjoyable to use. Therefore, try experimenting to see whether you should learn it first.

The takeaway from this section- is to consult with someone you know. For instance, when you talk with someone who knows, one may give you the perfect advice you need to succeed.

There are two general boxing stances: orthodox and southpaw, which are chosen based on whether you’re right-handed or left-handed.


If you’re unfamiliar with these stances, you may want to learn more about these ones before moving on to the Philly shell. Although it’s entirely valid to be a beginner, you need to learn more about boxing before moving on!

Is the Philly shell effective?

The regular stance in boxing is known for its diversity and dynamic nature. Therefore, you can play around with it to see which style fits you best. That said, the Philly shell is somewhat different and more complicated than that.

The Philly shell is incredibly effective, even more than the regular stance in boxing. Nonetheless, it’s more suitable for people with a few consistent years of boxing training. However, the trainees who use it- dominate their competition with ease.

You can learn the Philly shell as much as the best boxers in the world. However, consider starting with learning the basics and getting some background before you begin learning it.

The best boxers in the world use it for a straightforward reason, it’s highly effective. Because of that, I highly encourage studying it if you have a few years of boxing background.

Why is it called the Philly shell?

The Philly shell has many names. So, naturally, you may wonder why this is the name it had gotten. So, let’s see why and another name people may call this fantastic defensive stance.

The Philly shell is called the Philly shell because George Benton, a boxer from Philadelphia, brought this style and began using it as his primary style. Nonetheless, a fighter from Michigan did the same; some call it Michigan.

Final words

The Philly shell is one of the most effective defensive styles boxing has to offer. As a result, many elite boxers began using it as their primary style.

Primarily, Floyd Mayweather brought this style as a mainstream defensive stance. So, when you see him standing, you may realize that this is, in fact, the Philly shell.

If you want to learn, it’ll be best to have a few years of boxing experience, as it may become more difficult than the regular stance, which is easier to learn and use.

If you enjoyed reading this article, I encourage you also to read an article I wrote about the best martial arts for self-defense.


I've served in the military as a special forces operator for 4-years. In that period, I've trained in many martial arts, including karate, MMA, BJJ, boxing, and even Krav Maga. I want to share my passion with you, so here it is!

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