CompuBox a guide, not a decider
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - July 28, 2019 - 12:00am

CompuBox, the statistical agency specializing in counting how many punches are thrown and landed in a fight, reported that Keith Thurman’s 192 power shots were the most connected on Manny Pacquiao in 43 bouts it has tracked. Pacquiao beat Thurman by a split decision to take the super WBA welterweight title in Las Vegas last weekend.

If you list Pacquiao’s fights from 43 bouts ago, you’ll start with his second round knockout win over Reynante Jamili at the Elorde Sports Center in Parañaque in 1999. I guarantee that CompuBox wasn’t in the venue counting Pacquiao’s punches. Pacquiao has fought 29 fights in the US dating back to 2001 when he stopped Lehlo Ledwaba to wrest the IBF superbantamweight crown in Las Vegas. Even assuming CompuBox was present during Pacquiao’s two fights in Macau (against Chris Algieri and Brandon Rios), one in Kuala Lumpur (Lucas Matthysse) and one in Brisbane (Jeff Horn), the list still wouldn’t reach 40. So how can CompuBox claim that it has tracked 43 of Pacquiao’s fights?

For an organization like CompuBox, credibility is critical. In 2015, I sat beside CompuBox owner and operator Bob Canobbio at ringside for Pacquiao’s fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. Throughout the bout, Canobbio’s eyes were fixed on a screen monitor above a long desk in front of him showing punches thrown and landed, broken down into jabs and power shots. He wrote down the numbers and connect rates then passed the sheet over to a staffer who made copies for media.

In Canobbio’s report, Mayweather threw more punches than Pacquiao, 439 to 429 and his connect rate was much higher, 34 to 19 percent. Known as a volume puncher, Pacquiao failed to live up to his reputation, according to Canobbio. Could Canobbio make a mistake in compiling stats? Why not? He’s human after all.

CompuBox was established in 1985. It uses a computer program where the system involves two operators. Each operator watches one of the two fighters and has access to four keys, corresponding to jab connect, jab miss, power punch connect and power punch miss. Unless there was another operator not in my line of sight, I thought Canobbio was the only man generating stats during the Pacquiao-Mayweather bout.

Against Thurman, Pacquiao landed 195 of 686 punches for a 28 percent connect rate, said CompuBox. Thurman, in contrast, hit 210 of 571 or 37 percent. CompuBox concluded that Pacquiao threw more but landed less. Thurman concurred, saying “my output was just behind Pacquiao’s … I wish I had a little bit more output to go toe-to-toe.” CompuBox noted that Pacquiao out-jabbed Thurman by a mile, 82-18. From a layman’s point of view, it’s ironic that a boxer like Thurman was out-jabbed by a puncher like Pacquiao.

In terms of rounds, Pacquiao out-landed Thurman in six so they were even. But in the first and 10th rounds which Pacquiao clearly won in the three judges’ scorecards, CompuBox said Thurman out-hit the Filipino icon. Thurman landed more, 13-11, in the first round and 24-21 in the 10th. Obviously, the CompuBox numbers are only a guide – they don’t determine which fighter deserves to win a round or a fight.

Pacquiao’s best defense is a combination of his volume punching and footwork. If Pacquiao keeps throwing shots, his opponent is forced to defend and isn’t able to launch. His footwork makes him a moving target. It’s difficult to find an angle for a perfect shot if the opponent is constantly on the move. If Pacquiao’s punch rate slows down and he doesn’t move his feet as much as he should, he’ll get hit. That’s what happened in the middle rounds when Thurman began to rally. The ninth round was particularly effective for Thurman as he out-landed Pacquiao, 26-13. The three judges gave that round to Thurman.

Pacquiao broke Thurman’s momentum in the 10th where he cracked a thundering left hook to the liver, causing the undefeated American to cringe and double up. Thurman spat out his mouthpiece and ran for cover with over a minute left. Surprisingly, CompuBox had Thurman out-punching Pacquiao, 24-21, in that round. The three judges awarded the round to Pacquiao, 10-9. Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune said it could’ve been justified to score it 10-8 for Pacquiao because Thurman was badly hurt and scampered for dear life.

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