Most people imagine boxers as being structured like bodybuilders with high muscle mass, low body fat, and a narrow waist. While this can sometimes be true, it isn’t always the case and with boxing and there are a wide variety of body types you’ll see within the sport.
Fighters with different body types may find that they have certain advantages and disadvantages in boxing, which we’ll cover in the article. But there is no definitive answer as to what body type is boxing is the “best” which is why there is so much variation in how great fighters look.
Lots of boxers, especially in the lighter divisions possess a slim frame with low body fat, they typically have good cardio and are light on their feet. In slightly heavier divisions you’ll start to see a more muscular build with still quite a low body fat and when you get to the heavyweights, you’ll typically find fighters with incredibly large frames that carry quite a lot of muscle and fat.
Below I’ve listed the various body types and the advantages and disadvantages that you’d generally see from them. However, this is what we would traditionally see – not what we will always see.
Body Types in Weight-classes
Generally speaking, you’ll find that the lighter weight classes have the most ectomorphs, the medium weight classes have the most mesomorphs, and the heavyweights have the most ectomorphs. This isn’t surprising considering how weight correlates to these body types. However, it isn’t always the case and you are still likely to see quite a variety of body types in every weight class. Below I’ve constructed a simple table showing the weight classes where you’re most likely to see each body type:
|Weight-class||Weight||Most Common Body Type|
|Minimumweight, Light Flyweight, Flyweight, Super Flyweight, Bantamweight, Super Bantamweight, Featherweight, Super Featherweight, Lightweight, Super Lightweight, Welterweight||105-147 pounds (48-67 kg)||Endomorph|
|Super Welterweight, Middleweight, Super Middleweight, Light Heavyweight, Cruiserweight||154-200 pounds (70-91 kg)||Mesomorph|
|Heavyweight, unlimited||225 pounds (102kg) +||Mesomorph/Ectomorph|
Due to the high percentage of each body type in their respective weight divisions, they will typically be the body types that do well. This isn’t because they are necessarily more or less advantageous at a particular weight but rather that there is a much higher chance of that body type doing incredibly well in their respective weight classes because of how many more fighters there are with that body type.
Ectomorphs in Boxing
Ectomorph is the scientific term to refer to someone of lean and slim stature. Their shoulders are typically narrow, they have smaller joints and long limbs. They usually struggle to gain muscle and fat because of their high metabolic rates.
- Since they carry less weight, Ectomorphs tend to have fast hands and feet
- Ectomorph bodies usually have a higher concentration of slow twitch muscle fibers, this means that they can hold lots of oxygen that will metabolise slowly, giving them excellent endurance
- Not having to carry lots of muscle mass also helps endurance as less oxygen is needed to supply the muscles
- Reach is another advantage that you’ll typically find among ectomorhps, their longs limbs often mean that they can control the pace and of the fight with the jab and dictate the range
- Ectomorphs can struggle with power as they usually have lower concentration of fast twitch muscle fibers, however, we have seen this rule broken several times with fighters who have had a slim frame but have also been naturally blessed with power
- Close range, ectomorhps can’t use their reach and usually aren’t as explosive in that range
- Brawlers and dirty fighters can often give ectomorhps trouble, especially in the clinch where they are not as strong
Examples of Ectomorph Boxers:
- Terrence Crawford
- Floyd Mayweather Jr
- Pernell Whittiker
- Naseem Hamed
- Bernard Hopkins
- Tommy Hearns
- Ray Leonard
Mesomorphs in Boxing
Mesomorphs are the stereotypical muscular type. They usually have broad shoulders, slim waists, large muscles, and are vascular. This is the body type in boxing that you would find most similar to a bodybuilder. Mesomorphs can put on both fat and muscle relatively easily but after a training camp, they will be quite lean.
- Mesomorhphs usually carry more muscle and weight which usually translates to power with proper technique
- They usually have a higher concentration of fast-twitch muscle fibers which are also useful for generating explosive power
- Having high lean muscle mass allows them to cut more weight for weigh-ins, giving them a weight advantage during the bout
- Having more muscles means that more oxygen supply is required to keep them working, this can lead to a reduction in cardiovasular endurance
- Mesomorphs are more likely to struggle in latter stage of long fights
- They’ll often struggle to punch in high volumes consisitantly
Examples of Mesomorph Boxers:
- Evander Holyfield
- David Haye
- Anthony Joshua
- Frank Bruno
- Roy Jones Jr
- Wladimir Klitschko
- Shannon Briggs
Endomorphs in Boxing
Endomorphs are the body type that is big, strong, and carry lots of power. You’re much more likely to see this body type among heavyweights as they don’t have to make weight. This means that they can keep the extra fat and muscle as it is often more beneficial for them. These boxers can sometimes be described as overweight but they are actually immensely powerful and well-conditioned. They are the epitome of “don’t judge a book by its cover”.
- Endomorphs can rarely be matched on brute strength, their weight often allows them to bully their opponents and take centre control of the ring, however, this doesn’t always translate into power
- The clinch is the ideal space for endomorphs, when you have a bigger man leaning on you and trying to hurt you, its easy to get tired very quickly
- Can easily gain muscle mass
- Like Mesomorphs, the added weight can sometimes hurt endurance
- Agility is often comprimised for power as a Endomorph, however, this isn’t always the case, for instance, the current heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury has an endomorph phyisque but has been a slick boxer for most of his career
- Struggles to lose fat
Examples of Endomorph Boxers:
- Tyson Fury
- George Foreman
- Andy Ruiz Jr
- Nikolai Valuev
Does everyone fit into one body-type category? – Not always, we’re just categorizing them but the body they most fit, not perfectly fit. For instance, George Foreman had the typical endomorph physique in the latter stage of his career but was a classic Mesomorph when he fought Ali in his younger days, from this we can infer that he was in between the two body types. Or Tyson Fury who does have a large frame and carries a substantial amount of fat and muscle but has characteristics of an ectomorph like his height, long reach, and shoulder-width.
Does my body-type matter for Boxing? – Each body type has its own advantages and disadvantages but providing that you’re in good shape for your body type, what will really determine how well you box, is your skillset.
Which body type will produce the most knockouts? – There isn’t a direct correlation between body type and knockouts. Mesomorphs are likely to have the most fast-twitch explosive muscle fibers but that is only one element of power and producing knockouts. Knockouts predominantly come down to timing and accuracy.
Which body type is most common in Boxing? – The body type that I most commonly see when watching boxing is ectomorphs. There are many more weight classes in the lower weights and therefore many more fighters which is defiantly and contributing factor as to why this is.
In summary, there is no such thing as an ideal body type for a fighter, perhaps there is an argument to be made that Mesomorphs have the most well-rounded body type. But boxing is an incredibly un-linear, untangible, and unmeasurable sport, therefore you can’t say for certain what is better or worse.