MANILA PHILIPPINES - NOVEMBER 20: Boxer and congressman Manny Pacquiao performs with his band during a concert in Manila following his win of the WBC super welterweight crown against Mexican Antonio Margarito on November 20 2010 in Manila Philippines. Pacquiao an icon in the Philippines won his eigth world title against Mexican Antonio Margarito last week. Pacquiao is regarded as a hero in the country and is the first boxer to be elected to the House Representatives in the Philippines. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)
Over at Bad Left Hook there is a deeply interesting piece up by Leandro Solis. As opposed to looking at the standard methods to determine what fighter is bigger heading into a fight, he also looked at wrist size. Why wrist size? I'll allow Mr. Solis to explain:
In bone literature it has been shown that in males the wrist size is positively correlated with skeletal frame, as well as bone density and mineral content, which in short means, bigger wrists equals bigger bones. For fighters fighting at a given weight class what this means is that if both fighters weigh say 160lbs, the percentage of that weight that is made up of bone in proportion to soft tissue (skin, muscle, fat, blood, organs, etc) will be more for the guy with bigger bones.
There clearly is value in looking at size with more than the eye test or previous history fighting at higher weights. Leandro uses Manny Pacquiao as the focus of the article given his amazing ability to continue moving between weight classes and still crushing what seem to be "bigger" men. This is, of course, relevant to MMA with the sharing of similar situations of men moving between weight classes. In fact, with the larger gaps between weight classes it may even be more relevant to our sport than to boxing.
Here's a very, very interesting thing to come out of the research regarding Manny (emphasis mine):
Now lets look at some fighters: for example, Mayweather is right on target (5ft 8in, 7in wrist), Wlad Klitschko has a wrist a bit smaller than what his height would suggest (should be 7.8in instead of 7.5in), while Hatton is a bit higher (should be 6.8in instead of 7in). Variation is a certainty in everything, so again, it is no big surprise that some fighters are above average while some are below average. Where things get interesting is in the extreme cases, and among these fighters there is no bigger extreme than Pacquiao. The man has 8in wrists, which is higher than the wrist average for heavyweights. When you consider he is only 66.5in tall (just over the superfeatherweight avg height) it feels even more impressive. While I was not thinking of this at the start of this little project, something caught my eye as I looked at the data. One of the things that has characterized Pacquiao during the past two or three years is his ability to punch extremely hard for someone his size against seemingly bigger foes. Well, two fighters among those I checked who also were recognized for their power and who also have 8in wrists with much smaller height than their wrist size would suggest are Joe Louis, 74in height, 8in wrists (should be 7.45in) and Mike Tyson, 71.5in height, 8in wrists (should be 7.23in). I'm assuming it is not necessary to highlight that both Louis and Tyson fought at the heavyweight class.
(Juan Manuel) Marquez has always looked in top form and at his best except when he fought Floyd as a welterweight. Even at lightweight many think he is already pushing his limit, well, according to my calculations his fighting weight should be 131lbs, just around the weight where he gave Pacquiao hell in their second fight and defeated Barrera. Pacquiao is ½ inch shorter than Marquez yet he was able to move up in weight while Marquez could not. Many people have used this argument to suggest something improper on the part of Pacquiao; what they miss is that Pacquiao's wrists are 8in while Marquez's are only 6.5in, giving Pacquiao an overall much bigger skeleton. This highlights why a great fighter like Pacquiao can easily adapt to a much higher weight without losing any speed, power, or chin, while another great fighter like Marquez can't, event though both have very similar heights.
Obviously no grand conclusions should be made from looking at a single fighter, but the larger information contained in the article certainly deserves further examination.