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How Do I Rate My Power?
A Man Question from Samuel
© 2014 James LaFond
OCT/7/14
“Okay James, I get the eye-hand coordination test with the speed bag and your notes on reaction time with the baseball—I think we are talking about an eye muscle here—but what about power? I mean, even though I don’t like bringing him up because all you white guys think he could have beat Ali, what about Marciano? His power changed the game. He always got hit first and always won.”
Good point Man. Look, he was only undefeated because he did not stick around to fight Liston. He would have had a better chance against Ali than against Listen even though Liston could not touch Ali. Rocky would touch him, but still lose because Ali’s jaw was so good and he was too damned big. In case you’re curious Marciano would beat Frazier late on a TKO, would be used like a basketball by Foreman, get run over by Tyson, drop Holyfield in the 7th, be as competitive as a pimple on a teenage forehead against Lennox Lewis, would be the mouse to Jack Johnson’s cat, would get bull dozed by Jeffries, would never touch Holmes, would cut Dempsey in half, KO Corbett late, and would have to endure the spectacle of his corner man throwing in the towel against either of the Klitschko brothers…
But then again Samuel, guys like us, if they are not stupid and drunk, don’t fight guys like that. To gauge your actually power you need to get in the ring and spar with someone qualified to tell you where you stand. That’s being nice if you’re over 20 and never boxed. If you are a kid, you just get thrown into the wolf pit and figure it out by the time you get spit out the other end.
Here is what I figured out at about the time I was emerging from boxing’s large intestine in 2002.
Below is the universally recognized Durability Under-conditions that Matter to Boxers, or DUMB scale, and how I rate in terms of the effects of my punching power on them. Mind you, with a small experienced guy like me it is not raw power, but functional power, and this functionality has more to do with who I am hitting than how sharp I am at the time. We are not talking about just toughness most of the time, but small nuances like ‘does he instinctively roll’ when getting hit or ‘does he tighten up’, and the ever important, ‘does he care’.
James LaFond versus Rocky Marciano on the DUMB Scale
1. Your everyday guy is KO’d by a LaFond cutoff punch or passes out from the testosterone oozing from the Rock’s simian pores.
2. Your strip mall karate guy quits after he hits LaFond with his best punch and LaFond counters with a combination, whereas he flees in terror upon seeing the hair on the Rock’s back stand out in hackles. [I'm not joking here. Psychology is a huge factor in most knockouts, especially when there is a power disparity.]
3. Your amateur boxer is discouraged when LaFond hits him, but beats the shit out of him anyways, whereas he suffers a crushing one punch KO as soon as he is nice enough to let the Rock know where he is by actually hitting him.
4. Your pro fighter respects LaFond for actually moving like he knows what he’s doing but isn’t afraid of getting hurt after tasting that amateur level power on his gloves so does not send him to the nursing home 30 years early, but breaks the twerp’s ribs and graciously permits the referee time to stop the slaughter. On the other hand, when the Rock hits him his entire game disintegrates and he ends up in LaFond’s unenviable shoes—a guy that was doing just fine until he tasted that freakish power.
5. Freakishly durable fighters such as Randall Tex Cobb and Knox Brown, who could have been crash test dummies but became fighters instead, autograph LaFond’s spit bucket before the Rock knocks pieces off of them for 12 rounds. This is what happens when freakish knuckles meets a freakish knucklehead. I once sparred with a guy who was a freakish knucklehead, and for some stupid reason went ahead and fought him. I prayed that he’d duck every time I had his face in my sights because it was like hitting a cinder block [and I have done that]. Hitting him was an exercise in futility. Eventually his rubberized muscles ran out of glycogen and he quit. I spent three days in bed and he ran five miles and got laid after he grabbed a bowl of pasta. The point is, it is the target resilience that matters as much as your power, so it is the kind of relative and many-nuanced assessment that needs to be made over years in the ring, or by a pro who is nice enough to let you T off on him while he pity-pats you.
Samuel, that fact is there is a vast gap between each of the levels on the DUMB Scale. It is much worse than what you see on the combat science documentaries where you can measure pros punching and kicking by PSI. That crash test dummy getting hit while the geek squad is measuring the effect is not also suffering from the trauma of 10,000 assholes screaming for his demise while the life blood passing through his system feels like it has turned into flaming gasoline or battery acid.
That is still only part of it. The Rock’s timing [which martial artists understand well] and his instincts [which most martial artists are generally vague on], honed in the ring at different levels, are multiplied when he brackets down to squash some regular dude. The thing about the prizefighter at that level is that he started as somebody rugged and coordinated enough to be dangerous with no training.
Rocky was kayoing older teens in street fights when he was a little prepubescent kid. Because he fought some of the best and most experienced heavyweights in boxing history like Archie Moore and Ezzard Charles [The Old Mongoose and the Cincinnati Cobra respectively] Marciano has been thought clumsy. It may have looked that way but he had freakish balance and compressed body mechanics and his sense of timing was second to none, all aided by his compact stature which minimized variables. His punch was not traveling at maximum velocity until contact. Most boxers have more steam on the front or middle of the trajectory. His punch was still speeding up when it hit and thanks to his sense of balance he would then micro twitch his shoulder and hip and rip it threw the target. Jersey Joe Walcott, a fantastic ring technician who was notoriously hard to hit cleanly, got hit so hard by Marciano that his face looks like pudding jiggling in a bowl in the most famous KO still photo of them all.
Nonetheless even his power was conditional and a stronger freak like Liston or Foreman could have shut him down easily. That is the big lesson about power, that it is conditional, relative, interactive, and in need of cooperation. That’s why you don’t see a lot of stupid KO punchers. Guys that score KO’s at the highest levels are generally smart guys in and out of the ring. Functional power requires a lot of internal linkage and external vectoring management under extreme stress, and that almost always comes from experience.
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