Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pacquiao vs. Margarito: Troubling signs

The Pacman tipped the scales at least six pounds below the 150 pound weight-in, a troubling sign. While Margarito tipped the scales at 150 pounds and is expected to gain at least ten more pounds come fight night. 

This is a very disturbing sign, if you ask me. I am quite concerned with this because this shows that the Pacman's punching power has diminished considerably and might, just might not be enough to execute a stronger and heavier puncher like Margarito.

Remember, energy equals mass times velocity squared. For one to create more power or energy, one has to increase mass or triple one's speed. 

It seems that Freddie Roach and the Pacman's strategy is simply increase the Pacman's speed and possibly hand speed to compensate on the advantages of height and weight of Margarito.

The problem with speed versus punching power is simple--speed is limited by space while punching power is not. Meaning, if you're faster but packs a non-lethal punch, you'll not be able to knock your opponent out. 

If you're just a tad slower, and your punches are too strong for your opponent, you have a big advantage and possibly the higher possibility of knocking your opponent out. 

Pacman has to deliver Head Injury Criteria (HIC) value of about 250 to knock Margarito out. A professional boxer such as Pacman delivers at least 500 PSI in his punches (500 PSI means 500 pounds per square inch).

How is this power generated in a punch? Fighters say the power comes "from the ass". Scientists say it comes from the body kinetically linking to the ground. The power starts at the ground as the power foot pushes off. The force move up the leg, through the rotating hips "the ass", through the torso, out the arm, to the fist and into the target. 

The punch would actually be stronger if done "hammer like", meaning, the fighter gets the kinetic energy from the ground and transform it into a strong punch.

How to compute how much power the Pacman needs to knock out Margarito is something like this:

F= ma+cv+kx

The equation of F contains six parts: (mass x acceleration) + (velocity x displacement) + (damping x stiffness).

Mass here means the fist's weight.

Acceleration is how quickly the fist increases in velocity. Velocity is how fast the fist is moving. Displacement is how far the fist moves and damping accounts for the force that is dissipated by flexible surfaces and structures contacting each other. Damping occurs when there is weakening in the structure of the punch. When the fist impacts the chin, it cause the skin, muscles and joint to collapse, which dampens or reduces the force of the punch. If the fist is covered in boxing glove, the striking force is reduced by dampening effect of the glove's padding. For more info, click this. Stiffness meanwhile means how rigid the fist and arm are at impact. The stiffer the fist and arm are on impact, the greater the striking force.

In practice, being a former Martial arts practitioner myself, if I want to increase power, I try to do both---improve my hand speed plus try to get more body mass into the punch.

There is a caveat though---if someone tries to put too much body into the punch, sometimes, this causes the fighter or the boxer to over commit and be off balance. Dropping your weight however into the punch temporarily adds mass to the equation because you're borrowing the force of gravity. 

Pacman has to punch slightly downward rather than upward and bend his knees to "drop" slightly as he hits Margarito. There's a problem though---Margarito is taller than the Pacman. Obviously, to hit a taller guy, the Pacman has to direct his punches in an upward movement, therefore, decreasing the power of his punches. 

Meaning, if he punches in an upward movement, there is lesser power in the punch. 

The Pacman can increase the mass of the punch by using muscle tension to add the masses of the shoulder, torso, legs and feet to the mass of the punching arm. Generally, speed decreases as you gain weight, but by using a sequential application of forces, such as arm, then shoulder, then hip snap and then leg thrust, the fist is snapped out similar to a whip, without adding mass that may slow speed of the punch. At the moment of impact, the body tenses and adds the mass to the punch.

With just one day to go, this is bound to happen:

1. The Pacman gorging more food to gain more weight, therefore, affecting his legs, the source of his speed. We all know that our bodies, especially our frames, are designed specifically to support our weight. If our natural frames are small, our legs are also proportionate to support the weight of our body frames. If we get heavier (which is my case, I am heavier now than before and slower), we get slower. 

Solution: Pacman has to increase power in his legs. He has to climb more. The thing is, he does not have the time anymore to increase power in those legs. He will definitely go to the ring, slower than his usual. 

Solution 2: Keep up in his current weight at 145 lbs and sacrifice punching power over speed. The problem is even if you're faster than the opponent, your movements are limited by the size of the ring and chances are, you'll be tagged by your opponent and get stronger punches than you'll ever get. 

2. This is different in Margarito's case. Margarito at 5"11, is taller and has a wider frame than Pacman's. He's a regular welterweight.  

It is expected that Margarito would pack a stronger punch than the Pacman, that's for sure. Pacman has to evade those lethal punches by a better defense. By defending himself better, the Pacman can compensate on the advantages of Margarito.

By the way, I looked at the tale of the tape, and Margarito's fist is just 1-inch bigger than the Pacman's. Here's the clincher---Margarito's thigh is 32.5 inches compared with the Pacman's 28 inch. As we know already, the power of the boxer lies on the thigh. The bigger it is, the more mass it has and therefore, more power. If Margarito translates his power from the thigh to his bigger fist, then, it means more trouble to the Pacman.

So, we all know that Margarito would be packing a stronger and more lethal punch than the Pacman's. I just hope that Margarito would be clumsier at fight night. That would mean a lot of things. 

An off-balanced puncher would pack a slower and non-lethal punch. This explains Roach's comments against Margarito: he commits mistakes and is not a more intelligent fighter than Pacman.

So there. The secret of the Pacman's victory over a Goliath such as Margarito will not be his speed nor agility but his intellect.