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Boxing’s 5 fastest pairs of hands

Credit: Will Hart - HBO

Although sometimes overlooked in favor of sheer power, hand speed is at least as important to any boxer’s offense. Who can say how much of Manny Pacquiao’s power is due to explosive technique or the sheer fact that his opponents often don’t even see his fists racing towards them? When they say “speed kills,” they mean hand speed, and these five boxers have the quickest hands in the game today.

Credit: Will Hart - HBO

1. Manny Pacquiao: While his arch-rival Floyd Mayweather has the edge in slickness, with the better feet, reflexes and head movement, when it comes to sheer hand speed, Pacman reigns supreme. This is a guy with fists which are so fast that some opponents claim they don’t see the punches coming, even when they come straight down the pike. And Pacquiao throws blizzards of these light speed blows! When it comes to hand speed, Manny Pacquiao is in a league of his own.

2. Sergio Martinez: This choice might strike Mayweather fans as objectionable, but take a deep breath and remember that Mayweather is a primarily defensive fighter, so when was the last time you saw him put together a hard, fast six-punch combination. Martinez does that regularly, and that plus his staggering hand speed make him boxing’s second fastest pair of hands. Speed is the basis for Martinez’s counter-punching and volume-based offense, and it is the reason he has been on a roll for stopping his opponents lately.

3. Nonito Donaire: The bottom line is that if you watch the lower weight classes, you watch them to see greasy fast guys, and Nonito Donaire unquestionably has the fastest hands in the world south of 147 lbs right now.

4. Floyd Mayweather: Mayweather’s career shows him beating a slew of fighters with great hand-speed to the punch. The only thing holding him back from the #2 slot is that he rarely lets those hands go in succession, preferring single punches or short combos. When Pretty Boy actually does fire a big combo, his hands slow down noticeably. When he is pumping the jab or landing a crisp counter, Mayweather’s hand speed might very well be the fastest in the world. Yet the plain, undeniable fact is this: whenever Mayweather throws more than a few punches, he slows down noticeably. I can’t say the same for Pacman, Martinez or Donaire, so Mayweather comes in at #4.

5. Wladimir Klitschko: This choice should spark some double-takes, but remember this is about quick hands, not slickness in general. Klitschko’s footwork is merely above average, he only sort-of moves his head, and he’s a huge guy, all of which camouflages just how fast his hands are. It takes more than height and reach to keep a guy on the end of your 1-2 all night; it takes speed as well. Watching Klitschko carefully over the years, he is a guy who manages to beat even fast heavyweights to the punch, and at long range. That takes a very special kind of speed.