The Boxers have earned a mixed reputation since their release. Completely outshined by Dragon Rulers and Spellbooks, and not as strong against those strategies as Evilswarms and Constellars, Battlin' Boxers were shunned to the outer circles of competition, mostly played by budget duelists and casuals. Without a large competitive player base developing the deck, it was dismissed as unplayable by most, even after the September Forbidden and Limited list curbed the power of the reigning decks-to-beat and Limited many traps that held Boxers back.
Many of the casual players who stayed true to the deck were too focused on the theme's main Xyz, Battlin' Boxer Lead Yoke, and went out of their way to keep it alive, using sub-par cards that in the end only hurt consistency. To make matters worse, Shadow Specters gave us another batch of Battlin' Boxer monsters that, to put things mildly, are barely worth the ink that printed them. There's nothing like terrible cards to make people continue ignoring an already-fringe deck.
Luckily, we can take advantage of the ignorance towards this strategy! With the help of a couple other cards from Tachyon and Judgment of the Light, Battlin' Boxers can be a serious competitive option.DECKID=99303For those of you who are unfamiliar with how Battlin' Boxers are played, your focus is usually setting up fields one powerful Extra Deck card at a time. Your tools to do this come from a core of 4 level 4 Battlin' Boxers.
Battlin' Boxer Headgeared is sort of like an on-theme Armageddon Knight, sending a Battlin' Boxer Monster from your deck to the graveyard when it's Normal Summoned. Battlin' Boxer Sparrer can Special Summon itself from your hand whenever you control another Boxer, at the cost of the rest of your turn's attacks. Battlin' Boxer Switchitter can revive a Battlin' Boxer from your graveyard when Switchitter's Normal Summoned, as long as you only summon Battlin' Boxers that turn, and Battlin' Boxer Glassjaw returns any other Boxer from your graveyard to your hand if Glassjaw's is sent to the graveyard by a card effect (from anywhere!).
Glassjaw's the glue that holds the deck together, and a lot of your plays revolve around it. Since its effect triggers no matter where it's sent from, it'll often activate three to four times a game at minimum. It's also a handy 2000 ATK beatstick, and its Utopia-style self-destruction effect helps ensure its recursion effect, although that will leave you open to an attack. Please note that Glassjaw has to be yarded by an effect; discarding it for a cost or detaching it to activate an Xyz Monster's ability won't trigger it.
Traditionally, the deck tries to set up a graveyard with Glassjaw and revive it using Switchitter's ability. That allows you to punch for as much as 3500 damage and then Xyz Summon Battlin' Boxer Lead Yoke. When Lead Yoke (or another Boxer) would be destroyed, you can detach one of Lead Yoke's materials to protect it, and then Lead Yoke gains 800 ATK. That effect makes Lead Yoke really difficult to deal with, pumping itself to 3000 ATK and then 3800 ATK each time it shields a monster. Thanks to that boost, it's very rare that Lead Yoke will ever be overwhelmed by a bunch of big attacks, just as Maestroke and Zenmaines are infamous for. 3000 ATK's bigger than nearly everything that sees play, and of the few monsters that can attack over that, none short of something like Obelisk the Tormentor can beat the 3800 ATK of a full-strength Lead Yoke.
Oh, and did I mention that your first Lead Yoke helps you make more ? Yeah, you heard that right. While Lead Yoke may not actually make more Lead Yokes, the Switchitter and Glassjaw you used as Xyz Materials will. The first time Lead Yoke detaches to protect something you can detach the Switchitter, then the second time you can detach the Glassjaw. Because Glassjaw is being detached by a continuous effect, it gets to trigger, and you can return that Switchitter right back to your hand. Suddenly you have another instant Lead Yoke ready to drop to the field at any moment. If your opponent was having trouble with one Lead Yoke, they'll outright lose to two or three.
#####CARDID= 11859 #####
While Lead Yoke's both powerful and resilient, if you rely solely on Switchitter for easy 1-card Xyz plays, Lead Yoke's your only path to victory. For some matchups that's often enough, but good players can find ways around Lead Yoke, and the best decks inevitably have answers that don't involve destroying a monster outright. Spellbooks have Spellbook of Fate; Mermails have Mermail Abyssgaios and Number 11: Big Eye; Fire Fists have Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Tiger King and Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Cardinal; Constellars have Constellar Pleiades; Chaos Sorcerer and Black Luster Soldier are still a thing; and there's still tons of splashable cards like Compulsory Evacuation Device, Dimensional Prison, and Fiendish Chain. All of these can take down a Lead Yoke, and a lot of those monsters won't go down to a second Lead Yoke.
That forced linear one-threat play pattern is what's kept Battlin' Boxers off the competitive map. Luckily, Judgment of the Light gave us the one card we need to extend our options and make Boxers a serious threat.
Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A… Lizard?
Masked Chameleon's one of the most versatile and powerful cards in all of Judgment of the Light, yet it still fails to receive the love it deserves. Normal Summoning this little lizard lets you revive any monster with 0 DEF from your graveyard and use it for an immediate Synchro or Xyz Summon. Our favorite monster Glassjaw happens to have 0 DEF, as does the easily splashed Photon Thrasher. Combine those four with the three Headgeared, Foolish Burial, Reinforcement of the Army, and if all else fails Lavalval Chain, and you'll rarely find yourself with a useless Chameleon. Since it's a Tuner it gives you access to the powerful Level 8 Synchros Crimson Blader, Stardust Spark Dragon, Scrap Dragon, and the truly Colossal Fighter, and being Level 4 means you can also go into any Xyz in the Extra Deck except Lead Yoke and Heroic Champion Excalibur.
With such a wide range of options, Masked Chameleon becomes your Swiss Army knife, giving you a solution to nearly any problem. Need to destroy something? You have Wolf' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Diamond Dire Wolf">Diamond Dire Wolf and Scrap Dragon. Just need a giant beater? Colossal Fighter towers over 3000 ATK like nothing. Crimson Blader's nearly an auto-win button when its effect resolves in certain matchups, and it's almost reason enough to play Masked Chameleon on its own. Of course, sometimes you just want to make a Lead Yoke, but that's why we play Switchitter!
I haven't even gotten to the best part about Masked Chameleon yet. You see its type? That Reptile-type? That type that no one has really ever cared about short of maybe two cards? Well, that Reptile typing is a really big deal here, thanks to another cool card from Lord of the Tachyon Galaxy – King of the Feral Imps. Most people I've seen playing Boxers strive to stick a Lead Yoke ASAP to try and force answers and grind resources early. I'm going to tell you now that that's the wrong approach a large percentage of the time. What you really want to go for is King of the Feral Imps. With three Sparrer, nine other Boxers, Combos with Foolish + Headgeared, Reinforcement of the Army, Battlin' Boxing Spirits, Photon Thrasher, and even Masked Chameleon itself, it's not hard to get a Rank 4 onto the board on Turn 1.
Summon King of the Feral Imps, and you can immediately search a Masked Chameleon to your hand. Since Masked Chameleon's gets you to nearly any card in your Extra Deck, that means you just searched a free boss monster you can Normal Summon. If you can protect the King for a turn, you'll immediately search anotherboss monster. With a strong trap lineup and three copies of Forbidden Lance, keeping a 2300 ATK monster safe for a single turn is incredibly easy, and once you've searched two Chameleons your opponent will be hard-pressed to get ahead of you.Protecting The Ring
The trap lineup's mostly geared to stop the monsters that can disrupt Lead. Solemn Warning, Torrential Tribute, Bottomless Trap Hole, Compulsory Evacuation Device, and the much underrated Black Horn of Heaven take care of threatening monsters before they can use their effects, and a full playset of Fiendish Chain help sstop anything that manages to stick to the field. A Dimensional Prison and two Mirror Force finish up the traps, helping keep weaker Xyz on board for their powerful effects and punishing overextensions that attempt to clear Lead Yoke. Book of Moon's versatile effect fills in for whatever purpose needed.
#####CARDID= 12772 #####
The biggest addition to the spells and traps, however, is a card that keeps the deck true to its Boxing roots. Kaiser Colosseum's an incredibly powerful card that often spells doom for any Xyz-based deck or combo strategy when placed alongside a powerful monster. Kaiser Colosseum is your boxing ring. It keeps the fights one-on-one by preventing your opponent from playing out more monsters than you control, as long as you can keep something on the board in the first place.
Activate Kaiser Colosseum with a Lead Yoke on the field, and your opponent suddenly can't Summon the monsters they need to use their Extra Deck. Remember that list of cards I mentioned earlier? A lot of popular strategies usually have to rely on their Extra Deck to clear Lead Yoke. Fire Fists need Tiger King or Cardinal; Mermails need Abyssgaios or Big Eye; Constellars need Pleiades; Madolches need Tiaramisu… You get the point. In addition, it allows you to keep your opponent's field in check when you're the aggressor. This deck usually won't OTK, but it repeatedly hits with a big monster or two for game. Limiting your opponent to one monster makes the later pushes a lot easier. Blow up their monster and knock a Material off of Lead Yoke with Scrap Dragon, and you have 5800 ATK right there. That conveniently adds up to 8000 damage when paired with the Lead Yoke's first 2200 ATK punch, finishing the game a lot quicker than people expect.
The remainder of the deck helps clean up fields so you can close out the game. Three copies of Mystical Space Typhoon allow you to pick off any backrow that remains after baiting out cards with Forbidden Lance and early Xyz plays, as well as stopping continuous cards like Fiendish Chain and the newly unlimited Fire Formation – Tenki. Dark Hole's nearly a staple as it is, and its interactions with Lead Yoke and its ability to stabilize the game when paired with Kaiser Colosseum make it an auto-include here. Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos is simply quick spot removal and a powerful recursive beater. Just keep in mind that Blaster does conflict with Chameleon and Switchitter, whose clauses on their effects prevent the Dragon from hitting the field in the same turn. Even so, the ability to play a 2800 ATK beater at the drop of a hat is too useful to give up, and saving a Blaster in-hand for the right moment can easily soften up your opponent enough to go for a kill.
Fixing The Fight
Since Battlin' Boxers are often favored by more casual players, and since so many players focus on Lead Yoke almost exclusively, some deceptive cards end up seeing a lot of play. By "deceptive cards," I mean cards that appear to be strong in a given strategy, but are really outclassed and in the long run only hurt consistency. There are three cards I keep seeing in Boxer Builds that generally aren't doing people any favors.
Battlin' Boxer Counterpunch drew immediate comparisons to a favorite card in the classic Blackwing Archetype – Kalut the Moon Shadow. Both monsters boost an attacker over an enemy monster or for a little extra damage. Counterpunch even has a bonus! You can use it if it's in your graveyard! On paper it seems like a great card, but unfortunately, Boxers and Blackwings are completely different decks. Look at the monsters used in a standard Blackwing deck: Blackwing - Shura the Blue Flame is all about killing monsters in battle; Bora the Spear and Blizzard the Far North's usual synchro, Blackwing Armor Master, both rely on pumping through damage through defenses; and Gale the Whirlwind helps out by halving opposing monster's ATK.
The Blackwings are designed to overwhelm your opponent by threatening high damage after softening up the opposition with traps, so Kalut fits flawlessly. Compare that to how Boxers work. The Main Deck monsters you're most likely to field on their own are Battlin' Boxer Headgeared, who only has 1000 ATK and is immune to one battle each turn anyway, and Battlin' Boxer Glassjaw, which self-destructs when targeted for an attack. That means Counterpunch has very Little Defensive value. All your other Boxer plays lead into Xyz Summons, and Lead Yoke hardly cares about being bested in battle; losing a battle once will usually allow it to topple the opposition anyway. With few ways to swarm the field, and a focus on Extra Deck cards that are already gargantuan, that 1000 ATK boost's rarely useful. In addition, the only effective way to get to Counterpunch is with Headgeared and Foolish Burial, both of which would rather be triggering a Glassjaw or yarding Blaster for a late-game play. And unlike Kalut, which by itself is still a 1400 ATK beatstick that works with Black Whirlwind, Counterpunch does literally nothing when drawn on its own.
The other two cards that keep popping up in Boxer lists are Xyz Reflect and Xyz Block. Both of these cards seem amazing with Lead Yoke. Xyz Reflect protects Lead Yoke from any effect that would try to target it to clear it from the field, while Xyz Block becomes a discard-free Divine Wrath that pumps Lead Yoke's ATK by 800.
The problem with these cards isn't that they fail to do their job – they actually do their job quite effectively. The problem is that neither card can function when you fail to stick an Xyz. For a strategy that's all about the Extra Deck, that might seem like it shouldn't be a factor, but what happens when you find yourself with a monster-starved hand? If you opened with multiple Xyz Reflects or Xyz Blocks, but no monsters to make an Xyz, you could easily find yourself overwhelmed before those cards could make an impact. In addition, if your opponent manages to clear your Xyz without setting off those traps, you've essentially taken a hard minus in card economy until you can get another Xyz up. These cards may make your winning positions stronger, but they also make your losing positions much, much weaker. Besides, if you were already winning, do you really need these cards? Using less directly powerful, but more flexible cards like Fiendish Chain and Forbidden Lance can still protect your monsters and disrupt your opponent's plays while staying just as powerful when you're ahead as when you're behind.The Man Who Has No Imagination Has No Wings
People think the deck's a lightweight, but it can brawl with the best and keep even the heavy hitters on the ropes! If you feel you've got the heart and the smarts to try Battlin' Boxers yourself, maybe you can become a Heavyweight Champion.