Liver Punch in Boxing – Why It’s So Painful

A solid liver punch is practically a guaranteed knock-out in boxing and MMA. It’s like a crippling jolt of electricity shoots through your body and brain.

Very few recover from a well-placed shot to the body’s largest internal organ.

So why is a liver punch in boxing so effective?

The liver is a critical organ and is also packed full of nerves. Because it’s so important, when our lived gets hit, our body’s nervous system automatically sends a strong pain signal which is a message to protect the liver.

Why does a liver punch hurt so much? 😬

Unlike your brain, which is protected by a hard skull, the soft liver is largely exposed, only partially protected by a few ribs.

This means that the liver can take the full force of any blow that manages to land on target.

A diagram of a human showing a liver in the ribcage

And because the liver is such a critical organ, performing over 500 vital functions like filtering your blood of toxins, your body and brain instinctively works to protect it.

So when you get hit in the liver, your automatic nervous system will kick in and send a jolt of pain throughout your body.

This jolt of pain is a blunt message that this vital organ is being threatened and you need to protect it.

In fact this pain is so severe that it results in an involuntary shut down of your body, and causes you to fall to the ground and go into a supinate or right lateral recumbent position, that protects the liver from further damange.

It doesn’t matter how big you are. It doesn’t matter how bad you are. It doesn’t matter how hard you’ve trained. There’s no way to condition your liver into taking hits and you can’t shake it off like you can a punch to the head.

Take a solid punch to the liver, your automatic nervous system will kick in, and you’ll drop. In a lot of pain!

a liver punch in boxing
That’s gonna hurt in the morning

Is a liver punch legal in boxing? 🥊

It certainly is.

Some people think that liver shots should be illegal because of the threat they cause to this critical organ.

But I think it’s an important additional layer to the sport. The great thing about the vulnerability of a liver shot is that it enables lighter fighters to knock out much bigger guys.

It doesn’t matter how big and tough you are, and the punch doesn’t even need to be that strong.

Related articles:

What are the symptoms of a liver punch, what does it feel like?


  • Bolt of pain throughout your body
  • Breathlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Collapse to the ground


  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Possible internal bleeding if it’s a severe blow

Show me some liver shots! 👀

Ask and you shall receive…

Notice in how many of these examples, the person getting hit falls face down, with their liver pointing towards the floor. This is your body’s instinctive way of trying to protect the liver.

How long does it take to recover from a liver punch? 📅

Of course this depends on how severe the damage is.

If there is no internal bleeding or bruising, you’ll get over it in a day or two.

But if there is internal bleeding then it can take multiple months to fully heal.

How to recover from a liver punch 🚑

No rocket science here:

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Avoid alcohol (it’s the livers job to filter toxins like alcohol)
  • Limit non-crucial meds (again, its your liver’s job to break these things down).

Or course, if you think you have done some really nasty damage (which is unlikely from a boxing punch) then make sure you go see a doctor who may recommend some more direct treatment.

12th Round 🔔

The liver punch is the most painful shot in boxing. Do yourself a favour and practice throwing them.

And if you’re on the receiving end of one, I’ll pray for you.

Happy fighting! 🥊🥊

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