This article shows proof that Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao, although lacking in formal education, also knows his physics. How some important factors in the sport of boxing such as speed, fist-mass, technique, and even the gloves used affect the effectiveness of a punch are also comprehensively discussed in this piece.
If you take a closer look, the explanation above isn’t really meant to make any exact calculations. Rather, its primary purpose is to show a scientific proof that mass(or weight) and speed are determining factors on how much damage a punch can inflict. Of course you can argue technique and all other factors you can think of. Using the right technique, a boxer can use as much body weight as he can in throwing his punch or he could just sit on his punches or throw arm punches that are much quicker but with less weight, thus, less damage, but the bottom line is still speed and weight (mass).
Now let’s consider adding more variables like defense, gloves used, and technique in throwing the punch. The latter two are factors that the one throwing the punch can control while defense is one thing that the person taking the punch can do to minimize the damage. Here the concept of the change in momentum comes into play.
Remember that we are no longer considering a stationary target and the cushion on the gloves also becomes an additional variable to consider. This therefore becomes a topic about collision, which suggests that it is no longer enough to consider force, or momentum, but the whole impulse-momentum equation given by the equation below
integral of Fdt = integral of dp
where F is the force, dt is the time derivative and dp is the derivative of momentum.
If we assume that the force is constant throughout the collision event (from the moment the glove first touches the target to the moment the glove first leaves the target), the above equation simplifies to
Δp = F Δt or F = Δp/Δt
To give a more vivid example, let me borrow an example given by my good friend nbajr2003 of Pacland. Consider two identical eggs dropped from the same height. One falls on concrete floor while the other falls on a pond. in which case does the egg break?
In both cases, the egg’s change in momentum is the same. They are dropped from the same height, so they both have the same zero initial speeds, and the same speeds just before impact with the ground or the lake. However, the force is applied much more gradually in the second case than in the first case. As a result, the egg breaks in the first case and not in the second case. In boxing, the cushion in the gloves serves to prolong the application of that force, to lessen the damage on the puncher’s knuckles. This is probably the reason why pound for pound king Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao prefers to use the Cleto Reyes gloves because of its less padding, which, based on the above explanations, translates to more damage inflicted by his punches than when he uses a glove with more padding like the Everlast or Winning gloves. Pacquiao, though probably lacking in formal education, certainly knows his physics!
Now let’s consider the defensive capability of the one receiving the punch. Good defensive boxers lessen the impact of their opponent’s punches by moving their heads backward against a straight punch or turning their head sideways in the same direction as a hook they will receive. Usually when they don’t see the punch, they get caught while moving their heads opposite the direction of the punch. Here, the punch is more devastating and usually result to a knockout.
Now going back to F = Δp/Δt, if a boxer can create a potent combination of a greater change in momentum at a lesser amount of time, then that would correspond to greater force, and greater damage!
I hope I didn’t confuse you more.
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