By Tyson Bruce
Sports analysis tends to rely more and more on statistic-based predictions. Just look at the way saber metrics has changed the way we observe the game of baseball or the attention that gets paid to statistics in football. Boxing has always been a much tougher sport to analyze by the numbers because it has the unique feature of being able to end at any moment. The numbers, however, still provide an objective and interesting way to analyze the possible outcome of a bout. The Canelo-Angulo bout is no exception.
The vogue statistic of the moment in boxing is the plus/minus category. This takes the average connect percentage of a boxer and minuses it by his opponents connect percentage. This is the best statistic for analyzing boxing’s number one principle of ‘hit and not being hit’. Perhaps not surprisingly, Mayweather leads all active fighters with a +24 in this category. Alvarez also shines brightly, as despite the dreadful performance against Floyd, he still ranks sixth among top ranked fighters with a +13, that’s one ahead of Klitschko (+12) and one point behind ‘pound for pound’ stalwart Andre Ward (+14). It must be noted that these statistics do not take into account the level of opposition a fighter takes on.
Punching accuracy is often the greatest indicator of who will win a boxing match. A high connect percentage is the product of speed, timing, and overall ring savvy. In this regard Canelo Alvarez has a massive advantage over Angulo. Canelo lands 39% percent of his total punches, which ranks third in the entire sport. Incredibly, that number jumps to 50% for power punches (defined as any punch but the jab), the highest percentage of any top fighter. Jim Lampley often references on HBO telecasts that if a fighter lands 50% or more of his power punches a victory is almost inevitable.
That could be bad news for Alfredo Angulo as compubox indicates that his opponents land an average of 42% of their power punches against him. That ties Angulo for second worst among top tier fighters with Brandon Rios and places him behind only gatekeeper Gabriel Rosado at 44%. Angulo is the classic case of your best weapon—in this case offense—also being your greatest vulnerability. Alvarez, on the other hand, limits his opponents to just 26%. Defense is also a category that Alvarez seems to be improving on with each passing fight.
Knockout ratio is the category that Angulo has the greatest perceived edge. Angulo, like his mentor Antonio Margarito, defies convention by being both a pressure fighter and a knockout puncher. Angulo has an overall knockout ratio of 72% but among his wins that number jumps to 82%. Conversely, Alvarez has a 68% knockout ratio in total fights and a respectable but not as impressive 71% KO ratio in wins. Clearly from the numbers it is Angulo that is the more noted knockout puncher.
Angulo is a rabidly aggressive fighter, which allows him to get a lot of work done. He throws an incredible 75 punches per round, second only behind Leo Santa Cruz’s 90 and well ahead of the 56 punch compubox average. In fact, Angulo lands an average 21 total connects per round, which ranks seventh among all top ranked fighters. That statistic can be somewhat misleading, however, as Alvarez lands an average of 19 punches per round even though he throws far less. However, the sheer physical pressure Angulo puts on opponents is its own kind of strength.
Perhaps the most surprising statistic about Angulo is the number of jabs he throws per round. Angulo throws an average of 37 jabs per round with only pure boxers Paulie Malignaggi (42) and Austin Trout (38) throwing more. Angulo uses the jab to cover distance and cut his opponents down, making it operate more as a power punch than a defensive weapon. Will this play a factor against Alvarez? If Angulo has improved the punch under the tutelage of Virgil Hunter it could be his most significant weapon in breaching the speed gap between him and Canelo.
The statistics for this matchup supports the general opinion that Canelo is the favorite because he has more perceived routes to victory. Angulo has one path to victory: hunting Canelo down, catching him with something big and putting him away. Canelo appears to have the right combination of brawn and boxing skills too withstand Angulo’s fury and adjust his strategy accordingly. That being said, statistics go right out the window when you get cracked on the chin. In boxing you can be hopelessly down at halftime and still come back to win. Angulo is a pure puncher and because of that he will be a danger as long as he is standing.