The Math in Boxing

by Kristine Tan
Dec. 13, 2012

It has been less than a week since the historic Pacquiao vs. Marquez Fight IV, and though our very own Pambansang Kamao lost by a knockout that stunned the whole MGM and Filipinos worldwide, many Filipinos abroad and at home are very much proud of the humility and sportsmanship that the long-time Pound-for-Pound champ exemplified right after the bout.

For the math enthusiasts like me, but more especially for those who are not, there IS math in boxing!

Here are the top 5 trivia in boxing that involve numbers and counting:

1.) In time: “10 seconds”
The difference between a Knockdown and a Knockout is the 10-second count. A KNOCKDOWN occurs when, as a result of a legal blow by the opponent, any part of the boxer’s body other than the feet is on the canvas (the boxing floor). The referee begins counting, and if the count reaches 10, then it is then classified as a KNOCKOUT. The opponent may or may not be declared the winner, as the referee sees the boxer fit to continue. (World Boxing Federation rules)

2.) In weight: Weight Divisions
Boxing matches are classified based on weight divisions. The latest match of Pacquiao vs. Marquez 4 last December 8, 2012 was in the welterweight division – greater than 140 lbs. up to 147 lbs. Or in SI units, this means above 63.5 kg to 66.68 kg. Did you know that there are 2.2 pounds to every kilo? Or approximately a ratio of 2 pounds to every 1 kilo. This means that you can estimate (Estimation is an important math skill!) your weight when you need to convert; if, say, you know your weight to be 100 pounds, then that is approximately 50 kilos.

Another trivia: Did you know that when Manny P started his pro boxing career at age 16, he was only 98 lbs. – meaning 7 lbs. below the minimum weight for the strawweight division? He admitted later on to putting weights in his pockets to meet the 105-lb requirement!

3.) Left-handedness means being more skilled with the left hand.
A SOUTHPAW stance is when the boxer has his/her right hand and right foot forward. Southpaw is the normal stance for left-handed boxers, like Manny, but not all left-handed athletes use this, and not all Southpaws are left-handed. Other examples of Southpaws are Rocky Balboa (left-handed Southpaw) and Bruce Lee (martial arts, right-handed southpaw). The corresponding term for a right-handed boxing stance is called Orthodox, which is the mirror-image of the Southpaw stance.

(Note: Though left-handedness is not technically math-related, Left has many meanings in math.  Left can mean going west when the upward direction is designated north.  Left can also mean going to the negative numbers along the x-axis, or the horizontal. )

4.) Probability of a Left-handed Athlete’s Success in a Sport
Only 10% of the population is left-handed, which makes the availability of sports equipment more limited for left-handed people than for the right-handed – such as the accessibility of golf clubs for left-handed players.

However, in face-to-face combat such as boxing, this may prove to be an advantage. Since there are more right-handed boxers, left-handed boxers get to practice more with them, than do right-handed boxers with left-handed boxers. (See

In addition to Pacquiao’s skill, his left-handedness may prove to have been an advantage for him as well.

5.) Timing and Accuracy
The pro boxers do not always hit hard. Other than hitting hard, TIMING and ACCURACY are key. To describe timing, imagine baseball: hitting the ball with a bat too soon or too late would be a disaster! To describe accuracy, imagine hitting a baseball near the edge and not at the center of the ball – its path will definitely curve away more slowly and the ball will not fly its farthest!

Same thing with boxing. Punching the opponent at just the right time and at the right place IS very crucial. We know from physics this formula:  E = (1/2)times (mass) times (velocity squared)
where E stands for energy, m is for mass, and v is for velocity (or speed with direction). This means that the greater the velocity (or speed), the greater the energy effect. A punch is fastest at a certain point when the arm is extended. The boxer wants to hit the opponent at the exact point where his punch is fastest. So, if you are aiming for a hard punch when your opponent suddenly moves away, then you are wasting energy.

To practice timing and accuracy, one must have rhythm. Rhythm is defined as the strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound. Rhythm in boxing can be improved on using the speedbag and the double-end bag. To check out Manny P’s punching techniques, I found this site: For more on timing and accuracy, visit

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