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Was Manny Pacquiao's Hair a Factor in the Fight?

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Last Saturday night after the conclusion of Pacquiao vs Marquez III, official fight statistics from CompuBox, a program that counts and categorizes punches in boxing matches, showed the more aggressive Manny Pacquiao threw and landed more punches than Marquez and even connected on more power-shots.

When a world champion is successful in all of those areas and doesn't get floored, he usually wins easily and without controversy.

So why do so many fans believe Marquez was robbed?

Answer: Although Pacquiao out-landed Marquez, Marquez's shots appeared to jolt Pacquiao. His punches seemed more authoritative. In addition, Marquez's punches were more eye-catching as they drew more "ooohs" from the crowd than Pacquiao's.

Clean and hard punching is one of four key elements used to judge boxing matches. The others are effective aggression, ring generalship and defense.  

In professional boxing, a "clean blow" is one that lands flush and with full impact. While having a high work-rate and throwing punches in bunches are important, they are not as meaningful as clean, hard blows that are landed with consistency throughout the bout. 

Those who thought Marquez should have won base their argument on the belief he decisively landed the more impactful, more eye-catching blows. That stated, is there a possibility the impact of Marquez's punches were exaggerated by Pacquiao's long hair (on top)?

Whenever Marquez landed flush, including jabs, Pacquiao's hair flew up wildly in 'ragdoll' fashion. When Pacquiao's back was to the camera and Marquez landed shots, Pacquiao's head appeared to be getting snapped back like a bobble-head's because his hair seemed to bounce uncontrollably every time he was hit cleanly.

Could Pacquiao's bouncy hair given viewers the impression he was being tagged much harder than he really was?

Some fighters purposely wear their hair shorter-than-usual when they enter the ring for fear the impact of their opponents' punches will be exaggerated by the 'ragdoll' effect if their hair is too long.

Camacho vs Duran I and II
In 1996, Hector Camacho won a slightly controversial decision over Roberto Duran. And in their rematch, Camacho cruised to a lopsided win.

Although Duran's skills had deteriorated more than Camacho's since their first meeting five years prior, the first thing some observers noticed was how Duran's hair sprung-up wildly every time he was hit.  In fact, the actions of Duran's hair gave the impression Camacho, who was never known for being a power puncher, had somehow obtained new found power. 

Camacho landed well in their first meeting too but his punches didn't seem nearly as impactful because Duran was sporting a short tight, flattop and wasn't a victim of the 'ragdoll' effect every time he was hit or grazed.

So should fans expect Manny Pacquiao to look like Timothy Bradley next time?

Probably not.

Nonetheless, expect to see a shorter-haired version of the Filipino star the next time around.


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