Hand speed is one of the most sought-after commodities in boxing. But though it can be trained to an extent, the truly gifted fighters with blindingly fast hands were born with the god-given gift of quick fists.
Having fast hands mean connecting on the target first, and with maximum force and velocity. It comes as no surprise as well, that those who possess otherworldly speed also pack enormous power. As a boxer, hand speed is something that should be at the top of the list of things to work on.
Throughout the sport’s colorful history, there have been a handful of pugilists who have exhibited extraordinary speed, and they have done amazing things with it. Fans have been treated to thrilling displays of hand speed, which have produced epic moments in the ring.
With bottled lightning in each hand, that cracks like thunder whenever a punch connects, these fast punchers used their speed to confound their opponents in the ring. Let’s take a look at a handful of these speed demons.
Today, Evolve Daily shares the five quickest punchers in the history of boxing.
1) Roy Jones Jr.
Perhaps universally recognized as one of the quickest draws in the west, former US Olympian and multiple-division Boxing World Champion Roy Jones Jr. possessed uncanny hand speed. For a man his size as well, it was such a joy to witness as a fan.
What can be said about Jones’ speed that hasn’t already been written? He’s so exceptionally fast with his foot speed, his combinations and everything about his game that he often added a lot of flair to his style. And he was able to do this because of how insanely fast he was.
Jones was known to goad opponents into making mistakes, sometimes dropping his guard or placing his hands behind his back. When his opponents take the bait and come in, that’s when he pops them with lightning-quick hooks and uppercuts. It’s his ability to fire from the hip that made Jones so special.
Even more exceptional is the fact that Jones maintained his speed even as he climbed up from middleweight all the way to heavyweight. Even as he put on mass and muscle, his speed never left him and it remained his primary strength throughout his career.
2) Mike Tyson
“Iron” Mike Tyson in his prime was known as an explosive puncher, feared for his relentlessness and unbridled knockout power. Before opponents ever stepped foot in the ring with him, they were already concocting strategies to deal with his firepower. But what they failed to realize is that power wasn’t Tyson’s best weapon, it was his speed.
Tyson had the ability to blitz any man in front of him, catch him off guard with a storm of lightning-fast uppercuts and hooks. He was 5’10” and with a 71-inch reach among heavyweights bigger than he was, it looked unlikely that Tyson could dominate the division. But with his uncanny speed and blazing fast hands, Tyson was unstoppable.
Pound-for-pound, there is no doubt that Tyson is one of the fastest hands in boxing history, and he definitely used his god-given gifts to terrorize his opponents throughout his career.
3) Sugar Ray Leonard
Considered one of the greatest fighters of all time, the amazing Sugar Ray Leonard was also the quickest draws in the sport. This incredible legend featured sweet moves, furious flurries and head-snapping combinations which not only scored him some unbelievable knockouts but also stamped him as one of the fastest hands in boxing history.
A purveyor of lightning-quick, multi-punch combinations, Leonard used his fistic fury to paint a masterpiece every time he stepped into the ring. Although he possessed tremendous knockout power, Leonard’s speed was definitely the most difficult for opponents to deal with as it always left them a step behind.
In his prime, Leonard was virtually invincible, because every time opponents came at him with even just a single punch, Leonard would return fire with four-five punch combinations that often left them in the dust.
4) Manny Pacquiao
What’s left to be said about the great Manny Pacquiao? The Filipino ring icon is certainly and undeniably one of, if not, the fastest southpaw of all time.
Through his meteoric rise through eight different weight divisions, Pacquiao was known as a devastating finisher, a whirling dervish of a fighter that overwhelmed his opponents with non-stop punches. At one point, he even threw over 1,200 punches against Joshua Clottey. That’s over a hundred punches per round, which is absolutely insane.
Pacquiao’s fastest punch? His vaunted straight left hand of course.
Long-time Pacquiao rival, Mexican boxing legend Juan Manuel Marquez, is perhaps the most familiar with Pacquiao’s straight left, which has dropped him on multiple occasions. In their first encounter in 2004, Pacquiao dropped Marquez three times in the first round alone.
Marquez just wasn’t prepared for Pacquiao’s hand speed and after the fight, he likened the Filipino’s straight left to that of a bullet.
5) Muhammad Ali
Known as the G.O.A.T. or the Greatest of All Time, the late Muhammad Ali built his legend on his charisma and showmanship, being a master of the microphone and delivering fans a unique flair which was way ahead of his time. But he wasn’t just great because he talked a lot of smack, his skills and talent would definitely back it up.
Ali’s speed was the greatest component of his game, and he became one of the greatest world champions in the history of the sport because of it. As a heavyweight, he was slim and slender and could move like a welterweight. Combined with his superior ring intelligence, this caused a lot of problems for his opponents.
Images of Ali flicking jabs at his foes while snapping their heads back, and then him following up with that sledgehammer right hand amidst a flurry of taunts, it’s absolutely vintage. Ali is no doubt one of the fastest punchers in boxing history, and at heavyweight, that was just a joy to witness.