Manny Pacquiao vs. Henry Armstrong: The Fantasy Tale of the Tape

John Heinis@HeinisHardNewsSenior Analyst IFebruary 2, 2011

Manny Pacquiao vs. Henry Armstrong: The Fantasy Tale of the Tape

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    A number of modern day boxing fans are probably not familiar with Henry Armstrong, but they should be. 

    “Hammerin’ Hank” had a much decorated career between 1931 and 1945. 

    He was the first professional fighter to win three world titles in three different divisions, and also holds the honor of being the only boxer to hold the featherweight, welterweight and lightweight titles simultaneously. 

    Additionally, Armstrong is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame and was voted the second greatest fighter in the last 80 years by Ring Magazine in 2007. 

    Odds are everyone reading is quite familiar with Manny Pacquiao’s credentials…or else they wouldn’t be reading in the first place. 

    For the sake of a fair comparison, bear in mind that Pacquiao is an eight-division world champion, who has held 10 world titles within these divisions. 

    Pacquiao is currently considered the number one pound-for-pound boxer in the world by just about every credible sports outlet including The Ring, Sports Illustrated and ESPN. 

    Furthermore, Pacquiao is currently on a 13-fight win streak and has not lost a match in nearly six years. 

    Of course it is impossible for us to ever witness a showdown between these two as they are from two completely different eras, but that doesn’t mean we cannot take a look at a tale of the tape. 

    Let us evaluate how these two enigmatic fighters would match up in a fictional show down in the ring.


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    The two fighters are very evenly matched here, a theme that will be common when evaluating the strengths of these two superstars. 

    Both men have a 67-inch reach, which is pretty solid for guys who are not very tall.  Pacquiao has the slight height advantage standing 5’6 ½ inches tall, while Armstrong stood at 5’5 ½.  

    As far as the basics go, the main difference between the two is that Pacquiao is a Southpaw fighter, while Armstrong favored an Orthodox stance. 


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    Pacquiao is known for often being the aggressor in fights, often dazing opponents with lightning fast, multi-hit combinations. 

    Armstrong was also notorious for coming at opponents with rapid fire combinations, although his straight ahead saw him incur quite a bit of damage on select occasions. 

    Since Pacquiao is not used to get hit early and often, it is reasonable to theorize that Armstrong would have a slight advantage here.


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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Both fighters are used to hitting opponents with barrages of punches, and obviously that is not possible without some great defense in tact. 

    While neither fighter is regarded as an amazing counter puncher per say, both have been great at blocking and absorbing punches throughout their careers.

    With that being said, it is tough to ignore the fact that Armstrong did not mind taking some damage to land some big strikes of his own. 

    This would be a mistake against Pacquiao, who is very good at wearing opponents down by making almost all of his punches count. 

    Therefore, Pacquiao seems to be the clear favorite in this category. 


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    This is definitely the toughest category to differentiate who has a clear cut advantage.  Both fighters are well recognized for being incredibly fast with not only their hands, but also their footwork.

    Not many boxers can devise a much sounder game plan heading into a fight than Manny Pacquiao, but Armstrong would definitely be able to take the fight to him for all twelve rounds. 

    Armstrong went 15 rounds on several occasions in his day, and was highly commended by fans and analysts alike for his freakish stamina. 

    It is nearly impossible to determine who is quicker between the two fighters, but Armstrong gets the nod here since he was more used to going the distance in his fights than Pacquiao is up to this point in his career.  


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    In 1938, Armstrong won an unheard of 27 fights in a row by way of knockout. 

    Out of his 149 career victories, 101 of them saw his opponents staring at the lights.  This is approximately a 67 percent knockout rate, very impressive, especially when considering the volume of fights Armstrong had.

    Pacquiao is one pace for a similar career knock out rate, currently sitting at about 66 percent.  38 of his 52 wins saw the Pacman KO his opponent, also a very tough feat to accomplish. 

    Pacman’s personal best for consecutive knockouts in a row is 19. 

    While Pacquiao is clearly no slouch in this category, Armstrong has the leg up in the power department.  

And The Winner Is….

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    Henry Armstrong in an incredibly close split decision.  Pacquiao is no doubt one of the greatest of all time, and undeniably a future Hall of Famer. 

    Nevertheless, he has never encountered an opponent the caliber of Armstrong in his 16 year career. 

    It is a shame this fantasy fight can never come to fruition, but it sure is interesting to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of two amazing fighters from two different eras.