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Cause of Leg Cramps of Manny Pacquiao During a Boxing Bout

Updated on April 30, 2014

Manny Pacquiao won his second fight (Apr. 12,2014) with Bradley by unanimous decision. No leg cramps; shadow boxing before fight activating aerobic system

To avoid cramps, take an oxygen debt and repay it before the sporting event

Leg cramp looms to bother Manny Pacquiao, the 8-division world champion, in his boxing fight with challenger Tim Bradley come June 9,2012.


The Filipino Manny Pacquiao, the pound-for-pound king in boxing, failed to knock out the American challenger Shane Mosley in their 12-round welter weight championship fight. This was held in on May 7,2011 in MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas Nevada . Pacquiao won that fight. However, he was bothered by a leg cramp.

Pacquiao caught Mosley with a lightning left uppercut in the closing minutes of the third round. Mosley was knocked down with his bottom landing on the canvass. It was expected that Pacquiao would follow up that knock down with a knock out in the fourth round.

However, Pacquiao failed to knock out Mosley or score another knock down in the fourth round. He appeared to have slowed down.

In the interview after the fight with Mosley Pacquiao said that he was bothered by a leg cramp in the closing minutes of the third round. The leg cramp remained during the fourth round that the pain slowed him down.

In an interview via GMA news, Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s coach, said that they have made adjustments to take care of leg cramps in preparation for the challenge by Tim Bradley.

Energy deposited in the bank

A training in boxing or any other energy- intensive sporting event builds up the stamina. Parts of that stamina are a great increase in the number of hemoglobin, the oxygen carrier, that is inducible by exertion. Mountain climbers focus on hemoglobin when they undergo acclimatization before getting to the peak. Another part is the increase in the number of mitochondria, the energy factory, that is also inducible by exertion. So a boxer enormously increases the arsenal for energy that would last him for 12 rounds. Indeed, a boxing championship fight used to be 15 rounds.

During training before the actual fight the diet also enables a boxer to store energy in the form of glycogen in his liver and glucose in his muscles, especially the arms. That store is good for about nine hours without food. This stored energy is like a deposit in a bank. This generation of a deposit had been done with the real-time use of oxygen. So at that time is was done with the aerobic process.

The boxing bout between Pacquiao and Brady will take place in June 9. In June 7 to 8, energy will have been stored in Pacquiao's energy bank. This energy is classified as anaerobic energy. The energy being used in more exercise and routine activities is called aerobic energy as it is generated in real-time.

A person has a store of energy that is called anaerobic energy. When Pacquiao will climb up the ring in June 9 he will have a lot of mitochondria, hemoglobin and anaerobic energy stored in his bank.

Loan of energy from the bank

It takes time to activate the aerobic system as a source of energy. In a boxing bout, the boxer borrows energy from his bank, the anaerobic system. This is also called oxygen debt (Skinner, J.S., Ph.D. Body Energy. 1981:36). Pacquiao, in particular during his bout with Mosley, incurred oxygen debt because he had not done a warm up to activated his aerobic system. In an intensive consumption of energy like boxing, the anaerobic energy can only last for 15 to 30 minutes (Astrand, P. MD. And K. Rodahl, MD. Textbook of Work Physiology, physiological bases of exercise. 1970:32).

Repay oxygen debt with interest

The oxygen debt from the anaerobic system must be repaid with interest. The interest is about 24%, according to Skinner. That means the boxer must inhale more oxygen by 24%. The boxer slows down during the repayment period.

The anaerobic energy is an advantage. However, it has a trade off. It produces lactic acid. The lactic acid causes cramps. That is why during repayment period the boxer is bothered by pain due to cramps.This is what happened with Pacquiao during his fight with Mosley.

After his recent fight with Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao again complained of leg cramps.

Activate aerobic system

To activate the aerobic system, a sprinter or a boxer must do heavy exercise before his/her event. About three to four minutes of exercise would do. During this exercise s/he borrows from the anaerobic system. By the time he sprints or climb up the ring s/he will have repaid the oxygen debt and his/her aerobic system would have been activated. Lactic acid is reconverted to energy.

The principle involved is that the aerobic system is already working during the event.

If a warm up cannot be done before the bout, a boxer may use the first three rounds as warm up and go full throttle on the fourth round. By then his aerobic system will have been activated that provides him energy in real time. No risk of leg cramp.

New entries as of August 24,2012

The judges of the boxing bout between Pacquiao and Bradley on June 9 scored the fight Bradley won by two judges and Pacquiao won by one judge. So Pacquiao lost by split decision. The verdict raised a lot of uproar among the fans, not only of boxing but of other sports as well. A US senator wanted a review of the fight and judging. The World Boxing Organization wary that boxing would lose fans and viewers, and income from big time bouts in the future, reviewed the tapes of the bout. All nine reviewers agreed that Pacquiao won the fight.

However, the verdict of the judges during the fight stands. So Pacquiao lost his title. He said everybody, except perhaps the two judges and the Nevada Sports Commission, believe he won. He said he doesn't mind the title that much.

The next fight will decide who is the real title holder, if Pacquiao goes for a rematch with Bradley this coming November. The bout with Bradley got less pay-per-view by half a million compared with his latest bout with Juan Manuel Marquez.

Let's see who will eventually hold the empty bag.

New entries as of April 30,2014

Pacquiao won second fight with Bradley

Bradley forfeited the rematch stipulated in his first boxing bout contract with Pacquiao. The rematch did not materialize owing mainly to the difficulty of staging that bout. Boxing fans all over the world were disappointed with the judging of the first fight giving it to Bradley by split decision. The boxing fans and officionados believed that Pacquiao won that fight. Even Bradley appeared to believe he lost to Pacquiao as he went on justifying even to fans that he won that first fight.

Pacquiao next fought Manuel Marquez instead. It was more financially rewarding than a rematch between Bradley and Pacquiao. To think that the bout was a non-title fight.

Pacquiao lost that fight with Marquez by knockout. Soon Bradley fought Marquez and defeated him as if to show that his win over Pacquiao was not a fluke.

Pacquiao lost two successive fights: Bradley and Marquez. However, a fight with reigning world champion of another boxing organization, Marlon Rios, was arranged and the bout was held in Macau, China. Pacquiao won and got back a world championship title. This win necessitated a unification bout between Bradley and Pacquiao.

This second Pacquiao-Bradley fight now became more feasible financially. Pacquiao wanted to show that he was the real winner in their first fight. Bradley wanted to prove that it was not the judges who won the first fight for him. More importantly, the boxing fans were eager to see the mettle Bradley is made of.

To say the least, the return bout would put back some credibility to professional boxing as a sport no matter who won the second fight.

That Pacquiao won it silenced doubts whether pro-Bradley or pro-Pacquiao.

If Pacquiao lost, it would be easy to trump up an excuse. Pacquiao is already 35 years old and past his prime. Bradley is only 30 years old and still in his prime. .

But both pro-Bradley and pro-Pacquiao came in for a pleasant surprise. Pacquiao convincingly won their second fight. This time, the judging was at par. Most importantly, professional boxing has regained credibility.


Submit a Comment

  • conradofontanilla profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago from Philippines


    Thanks for the kind words. Now that credibility is back for professional boxing we can look forward to enjoy bouts in the future.

    I am not taking back my prediction of the first Pacquiao-Bradley fight. I held that prediction for the second bout. This time Bradley did not get a draw either.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    oh its awesume blog you have....created,

    you may collect more info from this sports link just have a look

  • conradofontanilla profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Philippines

    In the interview after the Mosley fight Pacquiao said he had cramps in the closing minutes of the third round and early part of the fourth. In press releases after the Marquez fight, he said he again had cramps. In college I had boxing in Physical Education. My professor told me a boxer should not show he is hurting during the fight or else the opponent will paunch on the weakness. Marquez had that funny tactic of stepping on one foot of Pacquiao. It looks like Roach or Pacquiao's trainer is not familiar with oxygen debt. Anyway, Pacquiao will get past Bradley, who at best may get a draw.

  • webclinician profile image


    6 years ago from Stoke on Trent

    The question really is does he suffer from leg cramps?

    I experienced leg cramps and hell I can't even stand.

    With his fight with Marquez, he didn't look like he had leg cramp.


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