At its core, boxing is a very simple sport: best your opponent by knocking them out or impressing the judges with your skill. Because of this, and because of the weight restrictions enforced through the divisions, the best boxers have to hone their skills and their power to the highest level to come out on top.
So, just how powerful is the hardest hitting boxer, and what impact do they have on their opponents when they land their punches?
The hardest hitter in boxing
Coming up on May 5, two of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world will fight for a second time following a contentious draw decision in their first fight last year. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alverez is known as a great technical boxer with strong defensive skills. His opponent, Gennady Golovkin, is widely considered to be the most dangerous boxer in the sport, and one of the hardest hitters.
Golovkin is a dreadnaught in the ring: he’ll stalk his opponent, lay down his battering ram of a jab, land precision combinations at speed, and devastate with stone-fist shots to the body.
The science behind Golovkin
Gennady Golovkin has been boxing for a very long time. His professional boxing record may read 37-0-1, but he also racked up over 345 wins as an amateur. The Kazakh pugilist has perfected his technique and body into becoming a formidable force in boxing.
At peak force, Golovkin’s right hook deals a massive 2,159 pounds of force. On the other end, this is similar to being in a 35 mph car crash while sitting in the driver’s seat. It’s also a greater pounds of force measure than that of a 12-foot American alligator’s bite, which has been recorded at a bone-crunching 2,125 pounds of force.
Golovkin’s hand speed clocks in at 28.5 mph, taking just 0.125 seconds to hit that speed. The boxer’s hand speed acceleration hits 102 m/s2, which is far greater than that of a 2006 Bugatti Veyron (11.59 m/s2).
Like all others who came before him, Golovkin was unable to knock out Alvarez. But, given that the first fight ended with an incredibly dubious split decision, Golovkin will be looking to end this fight before the judges have their say. With his incredibly hard hits backing him up, Golovkin is an outsider here to win by knockout, technical knockout, or disqualification over Alvarez at +162.50. But he is expected to win at -187.50.
On the other end of Golovkin’s glove
One of the main elements that boxers train early on is how to get hit. They have to overcome their natural urges to flinch, close their eyes, or flap at the incoming punch because all of this can lead to them being exposed by real punches and dummies.
Strength and conditioning training for the head and torso is focussed upon, as is muscular endurance, as the muscles need to continue to operate despite taking hits throughout a fight. While boxers will train their necks to become stronger, and so limit the impact of punches to the head, they can’t always be fully effective.
Because the brain doesn’t fill the entirety of the cranial cavity, it can move around. When a boxer is hit in the head, the skull will first move because of the impact, but then the brain will also bounce within the skull.
Many different reasons could cause a knockout to occur from a punch to the head. Explanations range from the brain simply shutting down due to it being overwhelmed by chemical imbalance caused by the impact, to the blood and oxygen supply to the brain being altered by a sharp hit that in turn triggers the reflex of the carotid artery and results in unconsciousness.
When it comes to boxing, the fighters at the peak of the sport generate huge amounts of power, while their opponents have to suffer the massive amount of force thrown their way.