Why does size matter?

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by Mr.DagoWop, Aug 25, 2016.


  1. mrkoolkevin

    mrkoolkevin Gone Till November Full Member

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    You obviously already know my opinion, but I don't see how my question itself necessarily insinuates any such conclusion. All of us agree that the importance of weight disparities decreases significantly as fighters get bigger. I'm just trying to get a sense of how precipitous people imagine this drop-off to be.

    Serious fans universally seem to accept that the 8-15 pound gaps separating bantamweights, featherweights, lightweights, welterweights, middleweights, and light heavyweights are each highly significant, no matter how "great" the smaller fighter. Yet there are posters here who seem to believe that much larger gaps are much less significant, if the smaller man weighs 185 pounds or more. I find this idea fascinating, and I want to see if people actually in fact believe it. Do you?
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2018
  2. Sting like a bean

    Sting like a bean Well-Known Member banned Full Member

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    I reject both premises. I don't think the gaps at the smaller weights are all that significant, and my position is that as you go higher in weight the character of the trad-offs starts to change considerably.

    For instance, in two fighters with weighing a lean 122 and 130 pounds respectively, the increase in power and strength is likely to be far greater than any compromise in speed or stamina or workmate, which will likely be close to negligible. This will not hold true at all for fighters weighing 190 and 230 respectively. Even if you think the trade-offs are overwhelmingly lopsided in favor of the 230 pound fighter, it should nonetheless be obvious that a very different dynamic is at play. For one thing, as I've pointed out before it makes no sense at all (or so I contend) to assume that "chin" improves with size to the same degree as power, and so if you're assuming "the smaller guy just can't hurt him" this is exceedingly dubious at best.
    I also think it's likely the case (not certainly, but likely) that power reaches rapidly diminishing returns after about 210 pounds, both in terms of the absolute capacity to generate force and its usefulness in a match.

    There are all kinds of domains in which something analogous is the case; for instance no parent ever boasts, "My precocious son is twenty-eight, but he reads at a thirty-one year old level".
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2018
  3. mrkoolkevin

    mrkoolkevin Gone Till November Full Member

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    That's fair though I think it marks you as an outlier. Do you watch much lower-weight-class boxing?

    Makes sense that the increase between 190 and 230 are more likely to involve tradeoffs, but yeah, it still seems overwhelmingly lopsided in favor of fit 230 pound fighters to me.

    Why would punching power improve with size more than "chin" does? Haven't really thought much about this but it seems like the opposite is just as likely to be true. The biggest problem for smaller fighters moving up in weight for example seems to be that their larger opponents are often far better able to withstand their punching power. There have been tons of examples of this.

    I agree that the returns are likely rapidly diminishing (but still positive) at some point below 230. But I think we can all agree that fit 230-250 lb athletes generally hit much harder than fit 190-lb men, especially when it comes to the hundreds of "regular," non-highlight worthy punches that boxers throw at each other each fight. It would seem to me that this gap in power would dwarf the gap in power between 126-lb and 135-lb men.
     
  4. McGrain

    McGrain Diamond Dog Staff Member

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    I agree with this.

    What causes the confusion, I think, is that the very hardest hitting 190lb men can hit hard enough to knock out anyone. So it gimps things up a bit. Marciano and Dempsey do indeed hit hard enough to brain just about anyone a 250lb man can knock out with a punch.
     
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  5. It's Ovah

    It's Ovah I am very physically burn you Full Member

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    I think the main thing to bear in mind in discussions like these is functional weight, the weight a fighter naturally weighs when trained to his absolute peak for the rigours of combat. Sapp was likely no bigger, frame-wise, than Ike, but weighted down his body with useless steroid muscle, which badly affected his speed and stamina, as well as his ability to functionally throw a punch (though the fact he wasn't a boxer probably had a big impact on that). Ike was a little overly bulky as well, but nowhere near the crippling extent that Sapp was.

    Fighters at lower weights try to squeeze as much weight out of their frame as possible, so even minor differences in weight are going to make a big difference, since they will represent weight that physically cannot be removed and therefore represent genuine differences in basic frame size. At higher weights there's a lot more room for playing around with weight without catastrophic consequences.

    Regarding the initial point, were Ike to train to the gruelling, cardio-intensive extent that Marciano did he would still have a good thirty pounds on him, simply because he was a much bigger guy. That obviously gives him several functional advantages over the Rock, just as any fighter at their natural weight class has over a similar level of fighter two or three weight classes below him.
     
  6. Mr.DagoWop

    Mr.DagoWop Boxing Junkie banned Full Member

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    If that Junior featherweight was Erik Morales for example and the junior lightweight was Ryan Garcia I'd very comfortably favor Erik Morales.
     
  7. Sting like a bean

    Sting like a bean Well-Known Member banned Full Member

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    Are you assuming Ibeabuchi was unenhanced by steroids? There seem a few assumptions in your post, and though none are close to absurd, to my mind they're of varying degrees of plausibility. For one thing it it might be impossible for Ike to maintain both "the gruelling, cardio-intensive extent that Marciano did" and his bulk along with it. Some trade-off may well be in inevitable, and it may be much greater than you estimate.

    And I'm not fully convinced that "natural weight" is a concept meaningfully distinct from the ability to add muscle.
     
  8. Sting like a bean

    Sting like a bean Well-Known Member banned Full Member

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    This strikes me as pretty plausible prima facie, but I'd like to see some kind of direct evidence rather than armchair hypotheses, however well reasoned.

    The only semi-direct evidence I know of is the PSI scores of various fighters, both rumored and confirmed, and if the scores I've seen are to be believed they would seem to suggest that the difference in punching power between heavyweights and superheavyweights - or even superheavyweights and middleweights (!?!) - is not only smaller than most people seem to suppose, but even dramatically, shockingly smaller.

    But for this reason I take both the alleged scores and the legitimacy of the test itself with a hefty pinch of salt, even if the results tell me what I would prefer to hear.
     
  9. Sting like a bean

    Sting like a bean Well-Known Member banned Full Member

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    Why would punching power improve with size more than chin does? Because whatever accounts for "chin", it's quite safe to say that there is a strong neurological component at play, which is not the case with power -or at least not for any reason that's evident to me.
     
  10. choklab

    choklab cocoon of horror Full Member

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    I don’t think it would be as much as 30lb, not that it would make a difference, It might be as little as 15-20 lb.

    Guys with Ikes frame who trained under the gruelling cardio intensity you talk about rarely got heavier than 210. Boxers used to predominantly sit with army required guidelines. They don’t now.

    I don’t think Ike would have naturally been any bigger than a Joe Louis sized guy who scaled between 190 and 217.
     
  11. It's Ovah

    It's Ovah I am very physically burn you Full Member

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    By natural weight I mean the weight a fighter would weigh where he feels at his very best in terms of speed, strength, agility, energy levels, and robustness. It's not an absolute number, but I do feel it's a fairly narrow window for fighters in the prime of their career. Fighters at heavyweight might choose to trade one element of their fighting ability against another, but generally it's not going to create a huge jump or drop in weight unless they take it to extremes, and in that case they're not likely to remain as successful as their more well-rounded iterations because other aspects of their game will start to suffer.

    Do I assume Ike was unenhanced by steroids? No, I think he was very much on them the same as ninety percent of top heavyweights in the 90s, but he obviously wasn't taking them to the ridiculous excesses that someone like Sapp was. I don't assume Ike would retain the same level of bulk if he trained like Marciano; in fact my very point was that even if he trained down for cardio he would likely not be any lower than about 217 (Foreman's weight) which is about thirty pounds above Marciano's 185. He was just a much bigger man.
     
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  12. mrkoolkevin

    mrkoolkevin Gone Till November Full Member

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    That doesn't answer my question.
     
  13. mrkoolkevin

    mrkoolkevin Gone Till November Full Member

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    Sure, but that holds true for little guys too. The very hardest hitting small fighters can presumably hit hard enough to knock out anyone in the weight class above them.

    And it's not impossible but I think it would take an awful lot for Dempsey or Marciano to knock Ike out with one punch. In any event, I think that folks are putting way too much emphasis on the little fighters' best-case-scenario, maximum one-punch power and overlooking how hard it would be for a Dempsey or a Marciano to weather dozens and dozens (hundreds?) of regular punches from Ibeabuchi. Dempsey and Marciano may or may not land many of their Sunday money punches on Ibeabuchi's jaw, but he's almost certainly going to be hitting each of them with plenty of regular punches. And those punches really hurt when they're coming from a fit, powerful fighter that much bigger than them. I've been in very close physical proximity to several hard hitting 230+lb pro heavyweights (on the next bag in the gym and in floor-level seats) and the power difference is audible. Their jabs and regular hooks and crosses make noises that little guys can only make by winding up and loading up.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2018
  14. HerolGee

    HerolGee Obsessed with Boxing banned Full Member

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    the weight divisions ranges widen as you go up, for the reason of proportional advantages falling as body size rises.

    Why havent you acknowledged this? You been around for years, must have noticed. You cant be in denial all this time.
     
  15. mrkoolkevin

    mrkoolkevin Gone Till November Full Member

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    There are many mysteries surrounding boxers and their chins; I guess this is one of them. Again, there have been many, many examples of boxers whose punches had less impact on their opponents after they moved up in weight. Not sure if you watch much contemporary boxing but it's so widely recognized that it's become almost a cliche for commentators and pundits to question whether a smaller fighter will be able to "carry his power up" to the new weight class, or even hit hard enough to earn their opponents' respect and keep them honest, and those questions are often resolved in the negative. The question of whether a fighter whose jaw is solid at one weight will be able to withstand the superior punching power of the bigger men in his new weight class seems to be a far less prominent one.