Just how hard can the hitman hit – be scared, very scared!

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June 24, 2007 IBO junior welterweight world titleholder Ricky “Hitman” Hatton is renowned for his sledgehammer punches which have seen him go throughout his boxing career undefeated, winning 32 of his 44 fights by knockout. The speed and power of the Hitman’s hits were recently measured in a series of university tests - his brutal right hand was found to deliver a punch with around 400Kg of force – more than twice the kicking force of a professional footballer. Compounding the problems of his opponents even further, his blistering left hook was clocked at 32mph, which means his rivals have a lot less than one tenth of second to get out of the way. As if to underline that his nickname is no misnomer, last night the 5 ft 7 inch Hitman put away Jose Luis Castillo with a crushing body shot to the ribs in the fourth round of a world title fight. Castillo had NEVER before failed to go the distance in a 17-year boxing career.

The Undefeated Light-Welterweight and Welterweight World Champion was recently put through his paces at the University of Manchester by a team of impact engineers from the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering (MACE).

Following a request from ITN Sport, who wanted to know just how hard the Hitman hits, a team led by Dr Qingming Li worked with biomechanics equipment specialists Biosense Medical Ltd to gauge the strength and speed of Hatton' s best shots.

The data collected suggests Hatton is capable of landing a right-handed punch with around 400Kg - nearly half a tonne - of instantaneous force behind it.

That's ten times more force than an average person with no boxing expertise is capable of generating.

The University worked with Biosense Medical and attached a force sensor to a 30Kg Lonsdale punch bag. The sensor was then wired to a laptop containing software to measure and analyse the incoming data.

Ricky, who had been training hard for his world title fight against Castillo, was then invited to step up and give it his best shot.

At first, experts from Biosense Medical thought that Ricky had landed a blow with an astonishing 1,500Kg of instantaneous force behind it.

But more detailed analysis carried out in the United States revealed the power of the punch had caused the sensor to malfunction, giving a false reading.

Undeterred by this setback, impact engineers from The University of Manchester used alternative data and examined previous studies, and concluded Ricky had landed a blow with 400Kg of instantaneous force behind it.

Special video technology - normally used for tracking projectiles in laboratory conditions - was also employed by The University of Manchester to calculate the speed at which Hatton threw his best shots.

Experts have worked out that Ricky' s gloves fly towards an opponent at an average top speed of 25mph - giving them a reaction time of less than one tenth of second.

His fastest effort was clocked at 32mph - a blistering left hook that Hatton has previously used to floor his opponents.

The instantaneous force for this left-handed punch was less than the force clocked for his earlier right-handed effort, and it' s thought this was due to the style of punch and also because he caught the sensor a glancing blow.

In comparison to Ricky, a member of the ITN production team then picked up the gloves and barely managed a punch speed of 15mph.

Force measurements taken by Biosense Medical showed that despite his best efforts, the ITN man could only generate 38Kg of instantaneous force and barely moved the bag from its hanging position.

From studying previous research papers that measured the forces applied in football, Manchester academics are able to say that Ricky' s punching force is more than twice the kicking force of a professional footballer.

Impact expert Dr Li said: " As one of the country' s top universities for engineering, we were delighted to be challenged to come up with a way of measuring Ricky' s formidable punching prowess.

" The level of force he generated was quite astonishing. It was certainly a very different project from the type we usually work on, but it does demonstrate the expertise and versatility we have within the department."

Colin Burgess, Director and Product Manager for Biomechanics at Biosense Medical, said: " We' re more used to demonstrating our equipment to medical specialists, so this was something quite different.

" Our products have been used in the past for measuring the force of karate chops but clocking the efforts of a champion boxer was quite a challenge."

Researchers are keen to stress that the measurements were not taken under scientific conditions and they are now keen to repeat this experiment to verify their findings.

Time was limited due to Ricky' s training schedule and he did not have his hands bandaged as he would in a real fight situation.

But researchers believe the data gives a sound indication of the power and speed that Jose Castillo faced last night.

Hatton is a two-time IBF and IBO Light Welterweight Champion, having relinquished the IBF belt, only to step back down to the weight class and beat Juan Urango. He was the WBA Welterweight Champion, but relinquished this title last August. Hatton is also the former WBU, WBA Light Welterweight Champion.

Just to underline the often unseen of the sport of boxing, to box in the junior welterweight division, boxers must tip the scales at less than 140 pounds at the official weigh-in, which both Castillo and Hatton did on Friday. A day later, Castillo entered the ring weighing 153 pounds, and Hatton at 149 pounds.

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