Genetics definitely has something to do with it, just like with power. And there is going to be a range, even at the pinnacle of the sport, in terms of attributes like speed.
It can be improved through proper training, but not everyone has the ability to become a Mayweather Jr. or RJJ.
Fighters simply have to figure out where their strengths lie and develop their fighting style around those strengths. Ali had great speed for a HW, Foreman had tons of power, Frazier had tons of endurance, Marciano was tough as nails, Lewis had reach, Tyson had explosiveness. All were HW champions of the world at one time.[/quote]
Exactly. That’s why the saying is “styles make fights.”
Loren Christensen said in his book that a study was done between those who worked out on a heavy bag and those who shadowboxed, and after a certain time period those who were just punching air were faster but had less power than those who worked exclusively on the bag.
I have seen my own hand speed increase dramatically because of all the shadowboxing and padwork I’ve done- it’s at the point now where, as I said in another thread, if something falls off a shelf or I knock something off a desk, I can catch it before I realize what I’m doing.
However, I’ll never be able to be as fast as Floyd or Roy Jones or Sugar Ray Leanord. They’re just genetically gifted individuals- especially RJJ. You’ll see guys at the lighter weights with incredibly fast hands, but to see a guy fighting at middleweight and above stringing punches and hooks together like he did is incredible… you happened to pick two of the most insanely talented guys in your comparison.
A better example might be watching the Ricky Hatton-Paulie Malignaggi fight. Paulie clearly has better hand speed, and he’s got a great chin, too. However, Hatton is a swarmer who completely negated Paulie’s handspeed, and as soon as he hit him, he shook him because he’s got so much more power.
Most guys at the top are like that- matched very well against each other. It’s rare that you have a fighter who is head-and-shoulders above everyone else as those two were. Ali and Frazier was the same way, with Ali clearly being the faster fighter but Frazier being the bobbing and weaving monster that he was, all he had to do was get in close enough to land that big left hook that could knock down walls. Hand speed was negated by strategy and styles.
As far as Mayweather/Marquez- remember that Marquez was fighting WAY out of his weight class for the first time against the pound-for-pound best. He did not carry his speed or power with him on the way up. However, if you watch the first five rounds of the Mayweather-Judah fight, you see Floyd’s speed negated by Judah, or at least beaten to the punch.
Castillo in his prime was also the Frazier to May’s Ali. Watch that first fight, and you’ll see a fighter with enough power to hurt Floyd who cornered him and banged away. Floyd’s was definitely the faster fighter, but he wasn’t the better fighter. Castillo clearly didn’t have the potential to be as fast as Mayweather, but he didn’t need to be because of his style.
I could never have hands that fast, but I’ve got a hard chin and a good right hook. If I was a fighter, there’s no doubt that I would fight the way Frazier did. You just have to adapt.