A liver shot or liver punch is a punch, kick, or knee strike to the right side of the ribcage that damages the liver. Blunt force to the liver can be excruciatingly painful, and an especially effective shot will incapacitate a person. Thus, in combat sports, liver shots often result in technical knockouts (TKOs).
A liver punch is usually made with the left hand, or the left hook in infighting, or the regular short body hook, in a short and quick manner. The drive is usually made under and to the front of the ninth and tenth ribs upward to the base of the shoulder blade toward the spine. The punch shocks the liver, the largest gland organ, and a center of blood circulation, and causes the victim to lose focus and drive, and can cause a breathless feeling in the victim. It is usually delivered when feinting an opponent to lead with his right, which leaves the body exposed; the attacker then steps in and delivers a short, stiff uppercut, over the liver, which will likely leave the average man incapacitated. Most of the time, however, a liver punch is unintentional. It begins as a left hook to the body, but as the defending boxer puts his elbow down and begins to roll with the punch, the back is exposed. Thus, the attacking boxer is frequently offered either the arm or the back of the ribs, the latter of which he will usually take instead of the arm.
Notable examples of liver shots in combat sport include:
- Bas Rutten repeatedly knocked down Jason DeLucia with liver punches during their 1996 Pancrase fight, rupturing DeLucia's liver and earning a TKO victory.
- Micky Ward knocked down Arturo Gatti with a liver punch in May, 2002.
- Bernard Hopkins knocked Oscar De La Hoya out with a liver shot in 2004.
- Alistair Overeem knocked down Brock Lesnar with a liver kick at UFC 141, December 2011.
- Lyoto Machida knocked down C.B. Dollaway with a liver kick in December 2014.
- Mirko Filipović knocked down Heath Herring with his signature left roundhouse kick to the liver in June 2003.
- Gennady Golovkin knocked Matthew Macklin out with a liver shot in June 2013.
- Amir Khan knocked Marcos Maidana down in the first round of their 2010 fight with a liver shot.
- Daniel Geale sent Darren Barker to the canvas in the sixth round of their 2013 fight with a liver shot.
- Ronda Rousey knocked Sara McMann down with a knee to the liver at UFC 170, February 2014.
- Anderson Silva rocked Daniel Cormier with a left kick to the liver at UFC 200, July 2016.
- Jake Ellenberger knocked Matt Brown down with a left kick to the liver at UFC 201, July 2016.