By Nigel Collins, Espn.com
Size does count but not always the way you might think, especially in boxing where bigger is not always better and smaller is frequently as good as it gets.
Saturday’s “SuperFly 2” on HBO’s Boxing After Dark is a manifestation of this seemingly incongruous reality, a celebration of the sport’s lightest and most remarkable fighters.
In the main event, Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, the star of “SuperFly 1,” defends the WBC junior bantamweight title against Mexico’s leading 115-pounder, Juan Francisco “El Gallo” Estrada.
In addition, WBC flyweight titleholder Donnie Nietes takes on challenger Juan Carlos Reveco, and Carlos “Principe” Cuadras faces McWilliam Arroyo in a junior bantamweight non-title bout. Off TV, Brian Viloria and Artem Dalakian will compete for the vacant WBA flyweight title, highlights of which probably will be shown between rounds of the televised fights.
It’s probably safe to say that most casual boxing fans have never heard of these guys. They might also suffer from the common misconception that fighters weighing between 105 and 115 pounds just flit around the ring throwing feeble punches. It’s an understandable assumption but wrong.
Actually, the opposite is true. Smaller fighters have a physical advantage over their heavier colleagues that allows them to do things larger fighters wouldn’t dream of. Biologist/boxing writer Matthew Swain explains why:
“Physiologically, the reason that they can throw so many more punches comes down to surface area to volume ratio in two systems, the skin and the lungs. Small people have a comparatively larger surface area to volume ratio, so the heat being generated by their muscles is dissipated on the skin much more quickly than large people, and because of their much smaller mass and shorter limbs, they are generating less heat to begin with, so they are staying cooler, making them much more efficient.
“Same deal with surface area to volume ratio of the lungs. While a larger person will have a greater volume in their lungs, the surface area within the alveoli (where gas exchange occurs) is not linearly larger also. So they have more oxygen available, which means they are using energy much more efficiently.
“What this means on a practical level is that a smaller fighter requires less energy to throw punches and stay balanced, they get more oxygen, and they stay cooler while working at a much higher volume.”
That’s the science behind what we will see in the ring Saturday, but there’s more to it than that. Perhaps inspired by this natural wellspring of energy, lighter-weight fighters typically have an aggressive streak as large as their bodies are small.