Boxing’s Top Speed Merchants

This past weekend, we saw my boy YURIORKIS GAMBOA! throwing punches so quickly that when HBO replayed the featherweight’s knockout flurry, HBO’s Bob Papa remarked, “It’s fast in slow motion.”

Some fans love boxers above all who are heavy hitters. I can dig it; I like a spectacular knockout pretty well myself. But my preference is for speed. That’s the stuff that makes me “ooooo” and “ahhhhh,” that makes me almost giggle. And don’t think speed and power aren’t related; we all know the saying “Speed kills.” When lightweight David Diaz said it wasn’t Manny Pacquiao’s power that troubled him but his quickness, he enunciated that most vividly: “I thought he had a knife. It was like he was hitting me with a blade.”

With that, I submit the following no-frills list of the 10 fastest boxers today. I only picked among fighters in Ring magazine’s divisional rankings, or fighters who I thought deserved to be among them. It’s no-frills because there’s not much more to say about these guys than that they’re on my list. You know transcendent speed when you see it, and there are only so many adjectives for “fast” anyway. They’re in pound-for-pound order by best overall fighter, because it’s sometimes hard to estimate whether a junior bantamweight is quicker than a light heavyweight because he’s smaller or because he’s faster even if you take weight out of the equation.

1. Manny Pacquiao (welterweight)

2. Floyd Mayweather (welterweight)

3. Chad Dawson (light heavyweight)

4. Nonito Donaire (junior bantamweight)

5. David Haye (heavyweight)

6. Sergio Martinez (junior middleweight)

7. Amir Khan (junior welterweight)

8. Yuriorkis Gamboa (featherweight)

9. Devon Alexander (junior welterweight)

10. Andre Dirrell (super middleweight)

The hardest two to leave off the list, for me, were welterweight Andre Berto and light heavyweight Jean Pascal. Did I miss anybody else?

For what it’s worth, among fighters in the same division, I’m one of the people who thinks Pacquiao is faster than Mayweather. Not by much, but I do think it, and so do two people who have fought or sparred with both men — Jose Luis Castillo and Amir Khan. I give Khan the edge at junior welterweight over Alexander.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.