Height can certainly be an advantage in boxing and it usually is. Taller people tend to have longer arms which means they have a longer reach. This means they are able to hit their opponent when they are out of range. Being taller also means you are further away from your opponent and thus harder to hit.
Of course, height isn’t the definitive factor behind who will win a boxing match, frankly, skill is much more important. However, for the vast majority of people, it will be a physical advantage. But to elaborate on our previous point, it is the boxer’s reach that really makes a difference.
A boxer has to be significantly taller than their opponent in order for their height to make a real difference, especially if their reach is the same. However, if there was a substantial difference in reach, the fighter with the longer reach would have a significant advantage over their opponent. A few inches of reach advantage can make a large difference. There is a clear correlation between height and reach but the taller fighter won’t necessarily always have the longer reach.
In an actual boxing match, it’s very rare that height will make much of a difference. This is because there are weight divisions in boxing. This means that you’ll always be fighting someone who is approximately the same size as you. You’re most likely to see large size differences in the heavyweight division. For instance, in 2009, David Haye fought the 7-foot tall giant in Nikolai Valuev. Valuev had nearly a hundred-pound weight advantage and a 9-inch height advantage on Haye.
Examples of Tall Elite Boxers:
|Tyson Fury||6′ 9″||270lbs||85″|
|Nikolai Valuev||7′ 0″||316lbs||85″|
|Deontay Wilder||6′ 7″||238lbs||83″|
|Vitali Klitschko||6′ 7″||245lbs||80″|
Examples of Short Elite Boxers:
|Manny Pacquiao||5′ 5″||147lbs||67″|
|Vasyl Lomachenko||5′ 7″||135lbs||65.5″|
|Mike Tyson||5′ 10″||220lbs||71″|
|Roberto Duran||5′ 7″||165lbs||66″|
Advantages of Being A Tall Boxer
There are several advantages to being the taller fighter and as we mentioned earlier for the vast majority of people height will be an advantageous. That being said, its important to look at this holistically. In the grand scheme of boxing, height has very little relevance. Since every boxing match will have a set weight limit, its incredibly unlikely that two fighters with vastly different heights will compete. This means that the fight will usually be dependent on who has the greater skill set rather than arbitrary physical advantages. But regardless, below we’ve listed some of the advantages that taller boxers have in the ring:
- Long limbs mean that you can often dictate and control the range
- The reach advantage allows you to strike your opponent while being out of range
- Being taller means that you are further away from your opponent and thus harder to hit
- Being taller often also means you are physically larger, this means that you could have a weight advantage on your opponent, especially once you’ve been replenished after the weigh-ins
- Taller fighters are often best suited to counterpunching and back footed fighting styles
- This is because they hold all the advantages when they are far away from their opponents, should the shorter fighter be able to close the distance, they would be in much more danger
- Its much easier for taller fighters to land punches
- Being taller often means you have a better view of your opponent
- Punching at a slight downwards angle often means that you have better leverage and thus more powerful punches
Disadvantages of Being A Tall Boxer
While height is usually an advantage for fighters, it also has some drawbacks. For instance, body punchers are often a tall fighters nightmare because they aren’t used to anyone targeting their torso specifically. During Mike Tyson’s reign in the heavyweight division, he was often able to walk down his much taller opponents and finish them with emphatic knockouts despite their height advantage. This is because he would viciously target his opponent’s midsections with hard body punches and he slipped around their jab using Cus D’Amato’s infamous Peek A’Boo style. Listed below are some disadvantages that taller fighters may face in the ring:
- Often taller fighters are less agile than their shorter counterparts
- Very tall fighters are also often quite stiff and awkward, making them easy to hit as they don’t move around much and can often be quite slow and sluggish
- Being physically larger means that your body is a bigger target for your opponent
- Having a large torso will mean that body punchers will hurt taller fighters to the body since it is easier to hit and much more exposed than the head
Advantages of Being A Short Boxer
Fighters like Mike Tyson, Roberto Duran, & Manny Pacquaio have proved that as the shorter fighter, you can still have an advantage. I think shorter fighters have to be more innovative and that often involves using pressure and aggression combined with technical prowess to break down their opponents. Since they are usually out of range, shorter fighters need to press forward to close the range to the point where they can inflict damage. Listed below are some of the advantages that short boxers typically have in the ring:
- Short boxers are often better pressure fighters because they are used to coming forward to inflict damage
- Shorter fighters are often more agile than their taller counterparts
- Since they have to come forward in order to inflict damage, shorter fighters are often incredibly effective at closing distance
- Often, shorter fighters have aggressive styles that are heavily dependent on pressure making their fights exciting
- Short fighters often have excellent head movement because they usually are at a reach disadvantage, this means they have to use lots of head movement and parrys in order to evade their opponents punches
Disadvantages of Being A Short Boxer
Being the shorter fighter is usually a disadvantage. Especially if you have a shorter reach as well. Shorter fighters that try to box punch for punch often get picked apart by their taller counterparts simply because they cannot close the distance when their opponents jab is constantly in their face. Listed below are some the typical disadvantages that shorter boxers face in the ring:
- Often shorter fighter have a reach disadvantage
- This makes it much more difficult for them to land punches on a taller opponent because they are out of range
- Shorter fighters often weigh less than their taller counterparts which means they may be at a weight disadvantage on the night of the fight
- Shorter fighters often have to use more aggressive fighting styles that involve pressure and forward movement, this style typically involves absorbing more punches and is therefore more dangerous
- Less skilled fighters who are shorter than their opponent will usually have to rely on their heart to win, they’ll often have to take a punch in order to give two
For the most part height is technically an advantage in boxing. However, as we mentioned earlier, its not nearly the most important thing for a boxer. Due to weight classes, it’s very unlikely that two fighters will have large differences between their heights.
But even so, its the fighters’ skills that will typically determine the winner. So whether you’re short or tall, take it with a pinch of salt and focus on how you can use your height to an advantage rather than focusing on the negatives.