In any type of full contact fighting, the knockout is what excites fighters and fans the most. One of the greatest knockout boxers in history was Rocky Marciano. The Ring magazine (September 1997) said of Marciano,,"Heenever sought refuge in a clinch, never tired, and couldn't be hurt....He was an unstoppable force, breaking bodies and spirits. It was a hellish experience to fight him...Like Dempsey and Louis, he was able to get his whole body into a punch."never sought refuge in a clinch, never tired, and couldn't be hurt....He was an unstoppable force, breaking bodies and spirits. It was a hellish experience to fight him...Like Dempsey and Louis, he was able to get his whole body into a punch."
In 1963, the U.S. Testing Company was asked to measure the power of Rocky's punch. It found that Marciano's knockout punch packed more explosive energy than an armor-piercing bullet and represented as much energy as would be required to spot lift 1000 pounds one foot off the ground. Always ready to take two or three punches to land one, Marciano beat down the guards of his opponents, and then, with the shortest arms in the history of the heavyweight division, he hammered them into submission.
Where Did This Power Come From?
There is an axiom in boxing that says. "You can’t teach power. Either a fighter is born with it or not." Hundreds and hundreds of fighters have proven it to be true. However, in analyzing the punching of power hitters, some things are evident.
How a fighter sets himself when he delivers a blow affects power. A "boxer" like Mohamed Ali was on his toes, mobile, with little contact with the floor when he hits. The force of his impact comes only from his arms and shoulders. However, a "slugger" like Marciano plants his feet flat as he punches, using the floor for leverage to get more body weight behind the punch. Power is affected by a fighter's "commitment to the punch." A fighter who is thinking about a counterattack when he throws a punch is not committed to the punch. A fighter who accepts that he might get hit with a weak counterpunch and could care less, will put everything into a punch.
Jack Dempsey, the Manassas Mauler, in his book Championship Punching, describes a "falling step" punch that uses body mass to generate power.
"Let your arms dangle loosely at your sides; you won't need to use them in the (falling) step...Bend your body slightly forward as you shift your weight forward onto your (lead) foot so that your (rear) foot is resting only on the ball...NOW - WITHOUT ANY PRELIMINARY MOVEMENTS - take a long, quick step forward with your (lead) foot toward the object at which your (lead) foot had been pointing at. I emphasize 'no preliminary movement' before the step. You unquestionably will be tempted to shift some of the weight...NO PRELIMINARY MOVEMENT! Just lift the (lead) foot and LET THE BODY FALL FORWARD IN A LONG, QUICK STEP."
Marciano’s incredible power began in his feet as they pushed off the mat, then it moved through his thick, muscular legs, the swivel of his hips, and the twist he put into his upper body as he snapped forward his short arm and finally it erupted at hissfist. The power of a punch is calculated by the energy applied to the target. So the kinetic energy of Marciano's punch, that is the degree of damage the punch would generate, is equal to 1/2 mass x velocity x velocity (1/2mv2).. The power of a punch is calculated by the energy applied to the target. So the kinetic energy of Marciano's punch, that is the degree of damage the punch would generate, is equal to 1/2 mass x velocity x velocity (1/2mv2). Rocky's striking mass was equal to the mass of his arm plus the body mass he shoved forward behind punch. As the arm punches forward, the time from beginning to end of the punch increases as you increase the distance of the punch. Since velocity = feet per sec, that means the longer the range the less velocity. Since energy generated is mass times velocity x velocity, if your punches are short, as was Marciano's, your velocity is incredible! Moreover, the transmitted energy at impact is enormous! Joe Louis, who was knocked out by Rocky in the 8th round, said of Marciano, "It hurt to bump into him...." Archie Moore, who was knocked out by Rocky in the 9th round, when asked by reporters which of Marciano's punches hurt him the most, said, "Man they all hurt." Fred Brown said, "He hits you with something that looks like a little tap to the crowd, but the guy who gets it shakes right down to his legs."
Strength and Punching Power
Many people believe there is a correlation between physical size, physical strength, and punching power. In professional boxing, some of the most powerful punchers were not physically overpowering. Examples are Thomas Hearns and Roger Mayweather who, although they were powerful punchers, could be physically controlled by their opponents.
However, there are exceptions, such as George Foreman and Jim Jeffries, who were not only powerful punchers; they were bulls in the ring that physically controlled their opponents. Foreman, one of the strongest heavyweights ever, once lifted Joe Frazier of the floor with a punch.
Other exceptions are fighters that are physically strong, but are not knockout punchers, such as Mohamed Ali, Larry Holmes, and Evander Holyfield. When Ali, who was not thought of as being physically strong since he was not a powerful puncher, fought Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, and George Foreman, he was able to beat them by constantly holding, tying them up, and then out punching them. Holmes was physically stronger in his fights with Ernie Shavers, Ken Norton, and Gerry Cooney, but was not as strong a puncher as they were. Both Ali and Holmes had more stamina than opponents who were powerful punchers and physically stronger, which helped them outlast the opponents. Holyfield did not appear as strong as some of his opponents, such as Tyson, but he was able to control them and move them around the ring.
Punching power, physical strength, and huge, ripped muscles are not related. Some fighters have all three, some have two, and some only have one, but there is no correlation between the three. Take Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns for instance; Hagler was much physically stronger but Hearns was the more powerful puncher. Fighters such as George Chuvalo and Tex Cobb were both powerful men and yet neither had real knockout power.
Physical strength does not necessarily mean a fighter will be a powerful puncher, and a fighter who is not known as a powerful puncher may be very physically strong. Powerful punching requires strength in the muscles related to punching, using proper punching technique, and being able to put the two things together at the right moment to hit the right target.
Power Is Lost In the Joints
In punching, power is lost during its transfer through joints, primarily the shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints. Bones function as perfect transmitters of force since they have more strength longitudinally than in cross-section. Force moves readily down a bone until the bone ends, then it must transfer across a joint before traveling down the next bone. Misaligned, over-tensed, or under-tensed joints cause some of the force to be dissipated into the body. For example, people who wing their punches, tend to lose power at the shoulder and elbow.