25 Fighters with the Quickest Hands in History
Manny Pacquiao is among an elite group of fast punchers, who dazzle the eyes with firecracker fist that leave missile chem trails in their wake from the speed.
Speed kills in Boxing. Hand speed can be the difference between being beaten badly and being knocked into next year.
Time has proven that the best knockout punches are ones you never see coming. Greater hand speed allows this awesome phenomenon to happen with greater frequency.
Here are the 25 Fighters with the Quickest Hands in Boxing History.
25. Oscar De La Hoya
The Golden Boy may not be the fastest fighter on the planet, but he was very fast in his heyday.
From his beatdown of Fernando Vargas to his close battles with the very quick Shane Mosley, De La Hoya could hang with speed when necessary.
He had fierce flurries and big punches that helped him hang with some of the big speedsters of his day until he grew older and slower.
24. Billy Conn
Billy Conn was a slick Irish lad with a enough ring smarts and foot and hand speed to confuse the best of his time, even the one and only Joe Louis.
Conn almost had the fight won when he did the most unfortunate thing, tried to go for the knockout.
All the judges had Conn ahead based on his outboxing of Louis for 12 rounds. Conn tried to stand in the front of Louis and overwhelm him with punches.
Louis caught Conn in Round 13 and put him to bed to retain his world heavyweight title.
23. Larry Holmes
Larry Holmes had a faster jab than Ali. There, I said it. When considering the primes of both men separately, Holmes had the better jab.
Maybe Holmes didn't have the better footwork, combinations, or anything else speed-wise over Ali but he definitely has potentially the fastest jab in the heavyweight division.
He uses his jab in bursts of activity rather than quadruple jabbing his opponents, but he could bring some decently fast combinations as well.
22. Ike Williams
Ike Williams was a great lightweight with lightning fast jabs and combos. His reign lasted from 1945 to 1951, six years of domination. Why? Hand speed, hand speed, technique, power, and...oh yeah, hand speed.
21. Aaron Pryor
Pryor was a feared fighter in the 1970's and 1980's and the greatest junior welterweight of all time.
Pryor only stood 5'6 with a very small reach. Many of his opponents including the legendary Alexis Arguello were much taller with much longer arms.
That meant Pryor had to be that much faster to counteract his opponent's size advantages. Pryor had to beat their long arms to the punch and often he did with enough power to produce one of the greatest knockout streaks in boxing history.
20. Paulie Malignaggi
Paulie Malignaggi is called the "Magic Man" for a reason. At junior welterweight and welterweight, Malignaggi has amazed his opponents with overwhelming speed and mid-fight mockery of their inability to return as flashy or impressive a combination.
His fist almost magically disappear from his side and reappear in his opponent's face. Though Malignaggi might not have the heavy handed fist of a Roberto Duran to go with his speed, he more than makes up for it with ring smarts and great combination punching.
19. Pernell Whitaker
Whitaker is known for making fools out of grown men with his evasive antics, but his counter-punching ability and overall hand speed is vastly underrated.
At one point in a match, he was backed into a corner, his opponent rushed him and Whitaker hit the man with a looping right before moving to the left of the man and out the corner before the man could throw the first punch of what was supposed to be a vicious combination.
Whitaker's hand speed is part of the reason he was able to give the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez so many troubles in their iconic match in 1993.
18. Roberto Duran
Roberto Duran was a fast heavy puncher in the lightweight division of the 1970's.
He could take out anybody at lightweight or welterweight with only a few quick combinations. When Duran stepped up in weight class to welterweight, his speed remained for the most part as did his power.
So long as Sugar Ray Leonard went toe to toe with him, he remained befuddled by Duran's hand speed. Duran only began to slow down in later years at middleweight and super middleweight thanks to age and weight, but Duran still threw fast enough.
17. Hector Camacho
Hector Camacho was a beast with speed even if he didn't exactly hit the hardest. His speed was dizzying with combinations of combinations being thrown in the ring.
Though Leonard was faded when they both fought each other, Camacho was able to surprise Leonard in a result that became Leonard's last fight.
16. Prince Naseem
Prince Naseem was an unfocused waste of talent, but he sure was entertaining to watch. His flamboyant style of clowning around the ring is made possible by his unexpected hand speed and punching power.
Part of his punching power likely comes from his shots that literally come out of nowhere and dazzled both British and American crowds like no other at the time.
15. Tommy Hearns
Tommy Hearns just had unfair talent. He already was very tall for his weight class, 6'1 as a welterweight. He had one of the most powerful punches pound for pound that one can find in boxing history.
Hearns also had great hand speed to make things that much worse. His hand speed made him the ultimate killer.
One would have to stand and fight with Hearns as unlikely as victory seemed, because running away wasn't going to work against someone as big and tall as Hearns with that type of speed he produced which is uncanny for someone his size.
14. Zab Judah
Though not as talented as Mayweather, Judah had the distinction of being arguably faster but his hand speed was not as expertly applied.
Had Judah applied himself and kept his wits during the toughest moments of his career, he would have likely fulfilled the now seemingly exaggerated stories of his vast potential.
They were actually true when they were told and Judah's power and hand speed were a big part of that potential.
13. Sergio Martinez
Martinez is possibly the fastest light middleweight of all time. His dazzling speedy combinations and exciting fight style made him popular at the weight and even more popular when he moved up to middleweight.
No hand speed was sacrificed and he was able to make an even bigger impression of the world with such feats as his unexpected one-punch knockout of Paul Williams and his outjabbing of expert jabber Sergei Dzinziruk.
12. Terry Norris
Norris was getting rid of the leftover names of the 1980's by the beginning of the 1990's.
Norris became a hunter in the ring, starving to carve out his own pathway to fame and fortune. Norris has the explosive hand speed and is a combination king.
Norris is truly an underrated fighter at light middleweight, who will hopefully never be forgotten.
11. Shane Mosley
Mosley dominated the lightweight division of the 1990's using two things, great power and great speed. He was slick enough to get in, hit his opponent and not be as touched up as the unfortunate soul who crossed paths with him.
Though he later moved up in weight at the turn of the century, he still remained fast but progressively got slower over time in the weight class.
With age and weight, Mosley became slower than the man he was, but faster than most men ever will be.
10. Willie Pep
Though the legendary featherweight is known as one of the greatest defensive fighters of all time, he's also one of the greatest counter punchers of all time.
He could easily catch a foe slipping and capitalize with smooth technique and blurring hand speed that's to the face and back in time to be ready for the befuddled opponent's next attempt at an attack.
9. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Mayweather, early in his career, threw magnificent combinations and dazzling hooks and uppercuts out of nowhere to finish off the competition at the super featherweight division.
Mayweather kept his speed for the most part throughout the lightweight and even junior welterweight divisions but it is unknown whether he's kept it in the welterweight division.
Mayweather has adopted a style of countering his opponents more than actively engaging them in combat, which makes it harder to judge his speed.
But upon realizing that he's depending on quick reflexes to catch his opponent with these counters while not getting hit himself means that his speed has to be uncanny.
8. Muhammad Ali
Ali became a young champion because of his speed. He was fit, slim and could move like a welterweight at the heavyweight level.
When speaking of his handspeed though, his well-timed jabs were not as fast as everyone claimed they are. The likes of Tyson had generally faster hands and Holmes jab beamed in on an opponent like a heat-seeking missile.
While Ali is a rare speedster, it's more than likely his much slower competition that includes such behemoths as George Foreman and Sonny Liston, made him look even faster.
7. Manny Pacquiao
If speed creates power by bringing the unexpected knockout punch into greater probability, then Pacquiao's fist should be labeled weapons of mass destruction.
Usually fighters lose speed by gaining weight over time and moving up in weight divisions. Pacquiao has put on weight and won a record eight world titles in as many weight divisions and has not only not lost any speed or power, but has gained speed and power.
Miguel Cotto, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, and especially Ricky Hatton all felt the quickness of the Filipino warrior and didn't like what they felt.
Mosley ran for the first time in his career, because he had no answers to Pacquiao's hard punches from awkward angles at such great speeds that they're never seen.
Pacquiao's greatest unseen knockout punch was against Hatton in Round Two in the junior welterweight division. It put the British man to sleep.
6. Floyd Patterson
Patterson is often called the "Gentleman of Boxing," but he can give one hell of a punch with the speed and intensity a world heavyweight champion to possess when times get tough.
Patterson often made things tough on his opponents with such a good jab, great combinations, and great accuracy.
Some say a Patterson in his prime (before 30) was even faster than Ali. Is that true? Hard to say, but I give Patterson the edge thanks to his occasionally speed combinations.
5. Meldrick Taylor
Taylor shook the world up with a wonderful 24 fight win streak before what should have been his victory against Julio Cesar Chavez in 1990.
Taylor's technique was superb but was greatly enhanced by his out-of-this-world hand speed. He's about the fastest junior welterweight there is or possibly ever will be.
4. Sugar Ray Robinson
Often called the greatest of all time, Robinson possessed just about everything a fighter needed and more. He had beautiful footwork, power in both hands, and plenty of foot and hand speed.
His hand speed allowed for some dynamic knockouts and likely helped Robinson achieve his rare recognition of being one of the few to own over a hundred knockout victories.
3. Sugar Ray Leonard
Sugar Ray Leonard had some sweet moves. His furious flurries and neck-breaking combinations upstairs gave him not only knockouts but beautiful moments of brutality.
Leonard was an artist with two fist that brushed the canvas that was his opponent's face continuously.
In his prime, Leonard was borderline untouchable, because to touch Leonard would mean one would have to survive his flashy onslaught of fast punches.
2. Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson in his prime was a hard-hitting explosive fighter with the ability to catch anybody off guard.
He was 5'10 with a 71 inch reach in a world of tall heavyweights that could stand 6'4 and 6'6 with 78-82 inch reaches.
Tyson was a welterweight-sized man with heavyweight power and junior welterweight handspeed. Pound for pound he is no doubt one of the fastest fighters in boxing's history.
1. Roy Jones Jr
What can be said about his speed that hasn't been said? He's a boxer who was able to showboat like no one else in the ring because of how fast he was.
Jones placed his hands behind him and still managed to jump out of that stance and knock a man down.
Best of all, Jones kept his speed from middleweight to super middleweight to light heavyweight to heavyweight.
For such a jump, Jones remained well-intact speed-wise, making him one of the pound for pound faster fighters ever.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!