Whenever sports anchors analyze a boxing match, they often talk about a fighter’s reach as an advantage.
What is boxing reach and does it (really) matter? If you have a short reach, does it mean you have a lower chance of winning? How do you measure your reach?
Let’s find out.
What is “Reach” in Boxing?
A boxer’s reach refers to the total length of his arms, from fingertip to fingertip.
It’s the same as your arm span or wingspan. It is the distance from the tip of your left middle finger to your right when your arms are stretched sidewards, parallel to the ground.
Why Is Reach Important?
A boxer’s reach is determined by his height. That said, a taller boxer would most likely have a longer reach. But of course, it isn’t always the case since some people have naturally longer arms (although it’s a bit uncommon.)
Having a long reach is a huge advantage because it means you can throw more jabs while keeping a distance from your opponent.
However, take note that having a long reach isn’t enough. Also, it doesn’t guarantee that you will win a fight.
Reach vs Arm Length
Reach shouldn’t be confused with arm length, which only measures the distance from the shoulder to the fist in one arm.
Like reach, arm length is also a metric that’s commonly measured in boxing and MMA.
Some experts consider arm length to be a more consistent metric because one can’t manipulate its measurement, unlike reach wherein you can make it appear shorter by shrugging your shoulders.
How to Measure Reach in Boxing: Step by Step
In professional boxing, the average reach is 71 inches. Depending on how your measurement varies from this length, you may have a short or long reach.
So, let’s go ahead and measure your reach. It’s pretty simple, but you can’t do it by yourself. To get the measurement right, you need the help of your coach or anyone else.
Follow these steps to accurately measure your reach:
Take Off Your Shirt
First of all, you’ll want to remove any clothing on your upper body. This is to ensure that you’ll get the measures as precise as possible.
Even the slightest inclusions from your top can affect your reach’s measurement. For women, however, sports bras are perfectly fine to keep on.
Loosen Your Muscles
Next, you want to engage in a few minutes, maybe five, of moderate or light cardio. You can go for a fast walk, a light jog, or two-three minutes of jumping jacks. A few punching exercises like shadowboxing will work just as fine.
You may also perform some arm stretching exercises. Doing these helps loosen up your muscles. Your arm muscles must be warm for optimum flexibility. When you’re flexible, you can extend your arms properly and get a more accurate measurement.
Stretch your arms across your body. Lift one arm at a time and stretch it across your body. Hold it for 10-20 seconds and then repeat to the other arm.
Find a Partner
It’s difficult and almost impossible to get a precise measurement without someone to help you. So make sure you have someone to assist you when you conduct your measurement.
Stand Against a Wall on T-Position
Stand with your back against the wall. Keep your posture upright and your shoulders straight. Your feet should be flat on the ground too, and your heels are against the wall. Do not hunch forward or pull your back. You should feel comfortable in your position.
Next, straighten your arms at a right angle to your body. Your arms should be parallel to the floor.
Ask your friend or partner to check if your arms are at a 90° angle to your body. Alternatively, stand in front of a mirror so you can check your posture.
Face Your Palms to the Wall
Your palms should be pressed against the wall, and your back facing outward.
Check each side. Your middle fingers should be in a straight line with your elbows. Adjust your position if necessary.
Stretch Your Arms Nicely
Stretch your arms as far as possible, but make sure to keep your position correctly. Again, your back and arms should be straight and your elbows are aligned.
Stretching your arms as wide as possible helps you get the best measurement for your reach.
Take the Measurement
Get a friend to mark the points from the end of your middle fingers. After this, you can now release your hands and measure the distance between the two points on the wall.
Use a tape measure to measure your reach. Make sure that the tape isn’t angled or twisted as this can lead to inaccurate results. You can hold one end of the tape and let your friend hold the other so it’s easier to keep the tape aligned.
What are the Advantages of Having a Long Reach?
Height and reach do matter in boxing. It can be very effective for a tall, long-armed boxer to keep his opponent outside his range. Thus, he can hit a shorter boxer without having to draw closer.
To put your long reach to good use, you have to fight outside. This means you need to keep a distance from your opponent so you can throw jabs a lot.
You should also have good speed and agility. You don’t want to be trapped by your opponent inside. Work on your footwork so you can move quickly backward or sideways whenever your opponent comes near you.
Famous Fighters’ Reach
Some of the most popular boxers are known for having a long reach. They include the following:
Roger Mayweather – Floyd’s uncle has an arm span of 73.5, which he put to good use in the ring. Roger Mayweather became a world champion twice in the WBC light welterweight division.
Larry Holmes – he is the boxer who stopped Muhammad Ali in 1984. His jabs were rated one of the best in boxing history. Holmes has a reach of 81 inches.
Sonny Liston – Sonny was a powerful puncher and had a reach of 84 inches. He became a world champion in 1962 after winning against Floyd Patterson through a knockout.
Tyson Fury – this two-time world heavyweight champion has a reach of 85 inches. The Gypsy King uses his long arm span to his advantage many times in the ring.
What if You Have a Short Reach?
If you are blessed with a long reach, be thankful. It’s an advantage whether you’re taking offensive or defensive moves. When used properly, a long jab lets you set up aggressive attacks to keep an opponent at bay.
But what if you have a short reach? What if after taking your measurement, your reach is below 71 inches?
While it’s a clear disadvantage, a short reach doesn’t mean you can’t be successful in boxing.
Having a short reach has plenty of benefits too. For example, it allows you to easily land hooks and uppercuts when fighting from the inside.
The best boxing style for short reach is fighting from the inside. This involves trapping your opponent against the rope and then starting landing combinations.
A long reach doesn’t always equate to being a better fighter. If you look at fighters such as Mike Tyson, Floyd Patterson, and Joe Frazer, they don’t have a long reach but they have massive punching power.
Patterson has the shortest reach in heavyweight boxing but he twice reigned as a World Heavyweight Champion. He also became the youngest boxer to win the title.
How to Make the Most of Short Reach?
Working on your boxing style and training hard are the keys to success in boxing.
When you have knockout power, along with a better technique, you are most likely to defeat your opponent.
Powerful punches are your best weapon inside the ring. The most successful boxers spend a lot of time on boxing heavy bags to develop and strengthen their muscles, perfect their punching techniques, and develop muscle memory.
Other exercises that can enhance your punching power are plyometric push-ups, shadow boxing, and HIIT workouts.
If you have a short reach, you want to aim for a short fighting distance against your opponent. This way, he couldn’t use his long reach to his advantage.
Some of the best moves for short-reach boxers are bobbing and weaving. That said, you want to work on perfecting your hooks and uppercuts. These punches require good head movement.
Having a long reach is an advantage in boxing because it lets you maintain a good amount of distance from your opponent, allowing you to throw quick and powerful jabs.
However, it isn’t a major indicator of success in the ring. If you’re blessed with a long reach, put it to your advantage by working on your movement, speed, and technique.
If you have a short reach, don’t fret. You can overcome your opponent by fighting from the inside where you can freely execute hooks and uppercuts.
Whatever your reach, aim to develop punching power, strength, and endurance. This is the best way to succeed in boxing.