The Rematch to End the Controversy: Canelo vs. Golovkin 2
By: Ste Rowen
The rematch boxing fans have been waiting for has finally been announced, and for reasons I don’t quite understand, it was Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson who had the honour of letting the boxing world know that 2018 was continuing where 2017 had left off. Golovkin vs ‘Canelo’ Alvarez will take place on Cinco de Mayo weekend, with the venue yet to be confirmed.
The rematch announcement was certainly an upgrade on the first fight’s, where Alvarez treated us to 12 rounds of pointlessness – beating up Julio Cesar Chavez Jr – before WBA, WBC & IBF champion, GGG joined the Ring middleweight belt-holder between the ropes, and gave the fans what they were all really there for.
Hype subsequently ensued back in the summer of 2017, followed by controversy when in September, the two pound-for-pound fighters collided in Vegas. The fight didn’t disappoint but then again, neither did the consistency with which big fights involving the Mexican somehow end up favouring him.
Judge, Adalaide Byrd, just like Levi Martinez (vs Lara) before her, C.J. Ross (vs Mayweather) before him and Stanley Christodoulou (vs Trout) before her, scored the fight heavily in favour of the Mexican with a scorecard of 118-110. In comparison to her two fellow judges, Dave Moretti and Don Trella who scored the fight 115-113 GGG and 114-114 respectively. If anything, Don Trella got off lightly.
It’s unfair to completely dismiss Saul Alvarez though. He contributed to the fight, firing off the higher quality combinations and more frequent body shots. However, one of the lasting images from GGG vs Canelo 1 will forever be a huge right-hand landing on the granite chin of Golovkin and the Kazakh, unflinchingly, continuing his attack.
The CompuBox numbers showed that Gennady out landed Canelo 218-169, landing more punches in 10 of the 12 rounds. But don’t take mine or CompuBox’s, or 54/69 pro boxer’s and writer’s word as gospel, watch and re-watch the fight. I wonder if Byrd has.
Another high-profile rematch takes place on the 5th May when Tony Bellew and David Haye step into the ring for their rescheduled second bout, so the more committed UK viewers should be in for a long, eventful night. At the time of writing Haye is not injured – Good news! 94 days still to go till fight night – Bad news.
In the GGGCanelo2 announcement clip, the Rock reassured fans, ‘I goddamn guarantee you, it aint gonna be another draw.’ But then again, Tyson Fury said Charles Martin would knockout Anthony Joshua, so I don’t know if I can really trust you Dwayne.
Let’s hope controversy isn’t the word of the day when the rematch comes around – Has anyone checked what Adalaide’s Cinco de Mayo plans are?
The Troubles with CompuBox
The Troubles with CompuBox
By: Matt O’Brien
Boxing is a notoriously difficult sport to score. Although the brief a fighter must follow is simple enough – hit and hurt your opponent more than he does you – deciding who completes this task more successfully can be a complicated affair.
Witness the myriad of disputed decisions that litter boxing history as evidence of the above. In the wake of Manny Pacquiao’s defeat to unfavoured Australian Jeff Horn last weekend, another contentious result can be added to that list.
Much was made in the controversy that followed the Filipino’s defeat of his apparent dominance according to the CompuBox punch statistics. Despite being unanimously declared the winner on the three judges’ cards, Horn allegedly landed just 92 punches of 625 thrown (15%) compared to 182 of 573 (32%) for the Pacman. While these stats seem to provide objective support for the idea that the judges’ scores did not accurately reflect the action in the ring, there are several reasons why we should handle the punch data with extreme caution.
First of all, while the name “CompuBox” might evoke images of a supercomputer programmed for the specific purpose of calculating the winner of boxing matches, the truth is somewhat more prosaic. In reality, CompuBox means two guys sitting at ringside with a laptop, each with the job of watching one boxer and four keys to press that record the punches that boxer attempts. The four buttons correspond to jabs thrown, jabs landed, power punches thrown and power punches landed. At the end of each round the numbers collected on the laptop are compared, and hey-presto – there’s your CompuBox punch stats.
So while the name sounds technical enough, we have to remember that there is a considerable amount of room for human error. For instance, recording when a single punch lands or misses sounds fairly straight forward, but telling if a blow grazed the gloves or connected with the side of the face can often be tricky even with the benefit of slow motion replays. In real-time as the action unfolds, it is far from an easy task. Consider also a body shot thrown on the blind side of the CompuBox operator: it could have been blocked by an elbow or it could have been a fight-changing rib-cruncher and they may be none the wiser.
The potential for human error only increases when we take into account combination punching. One-two-three-four – rat-a-tat-tat! – fired in a flurry of blurring gloves and grunts in less than a split second. Could you be sure that you’d accurately gauge, in real-time and without revision, exactly how many landed cleanly? Of course, a focused CompuBox operator would no doubt perform the task much better than the average viewer, but over the course of a twelve-round fight that would still leave a significant margin for error.
Even supposing, generously, that such errors could be reduced through careful training to a fairly negligible amount, the types of punches recorded are still liable to present a misleading picture of how a fight is unfolding. That’s because, as noted, CompuBox operators are faced with a choice of only two types of punches: “jabs” and “power punches”. The problem with this description is that the actual power behind a particular punch has no bearing on it being categorized as such. A jab is simply a straight punch thrown with the fighter’s lead hand; everything else is considered a “power” shot, by CompuBox definition.
In the words of one the co-founders of CompuBox, Bob Canobbio, “We call a non-jab a power punch for lack of a better description… we call it power punch because it sounds better than non-jab.” While this might be a great recipe for a catchy, TV-friendly sound bite, it’s a terrible method for recording which fighter is actually landing the most damaging blows.
Ignoring these practical limitations for a moment though, a more fundamental problem exists: the difference between tallying punches and scoring rounds. For while it’s a convenient formula to regard the fighter who lands the most as the winner (as the old amateur, Olympic-style scoring system used to do), professional boxing depends on much more than this.
Specifically, the four scoring criteria are: (1) accurate punching; (2) effective aggression; (3) defence; and (4) ring generalship. What CompuBox seeks to provide is an objective measure of the first criteria. What it does not provide is an accurate reflection of all of the criteria judges are adhering to. In this sense, it can be a dangerously flawed tool in assessing who won a professional boxing match, even assuming the punch stats are 100% accurate.
Of course, it’s easy to dismiss the importance of “effectiveness”, “defence” and “ring generalship” as wordy and intangible. On the contrary, they are in fact very real and concrete: they are the difference between a shot crashing into an arm, or it being rolled over a shoulder; they are the difference between a fighter pushing his opponent back into a corner, or being lulled into a trap; they are the reason why Willie Pep and Pernell Whitaker star in the Boxing Hall of Fame, and Eric Esch (aka “Butterbean”) starred in Jackass: The Movie.
Consider, for example, the following exchange: Fighter A throws a fast series of looping punches as Fighter B backs into a corner. Let’s imagine that three punches out of a six punch combination land – but none of the blows does damage, and are either lacking in force or partially deflected by Fighter B. Then – boom! – Fighter B unloads with a well-timed, accurate jab-shot that rocks the head back of Fighter A, before nimbly skipping off to the other side of the ring with his opponent ambling after him.
Now, according to a CompuBox reading, in the above exchange Fighter A out-landed Fighter B by 3 power punches compared to 1 jab – an impressive statistic. He also showed more “aggression”, throwing 6 punches to his opponent’s 1. Any astute ringside observer would know to discard the significance of the punch stats in this instance though. Not only did Fighter B render the incoming attack ineffective with his superior defensive skills, he also controlled the flow of the action by enticing his opponent to throw punches only to achieve the goal of countering him, which he did accurately and effectively with a more damaging blow (that was not recorded as such), before lulling his foe towards another trap.
This is called ring generalship: making your opponent fight your fight and dictating the pace, range and terms at which the action takes place. Too often, punch data simply does not pay heed to these nuances. Multiply the above exchange by a few times per round over the course of a twelve-round fight, and you start to get a very good idea of just how skewed any reading of a fight based purely on CompuBox stats could become.
One final problem is that the final punch statistics for any given fight are never revised. That means however many punches are recorded on the night, in real-time, remains the “go-to” data for that match forever more. This is a real shame. While it is obviously useful during the live airing of a fight to provide viewers with a measurable guide to the action unfolding in front of them, there’s no reason why these figures could not be scrutinized and corrected utilizing available technology in the weeks that follow.
Consider how much more meaningful these numbers would be if a panel of observers reviewed fights and re-tallied the punch stats using slow motion and different camera angles to assess them more precisely. It would then be possible, for example, to extend the number of categories of punches to provide a fairer reflection of who is the more effective aggressor (i.e. who was actually landing the “power punches”). As a starting suggestion, “Damaging Blows” could be added to include those that land with greater visible effect or force, snapping the head back, producing a noticeable facial reaction or clearly hurting the opponent. This kind of revision might not be practical for every single fight, of course, but it would certainly be a welcome addition for replays of the biggest PPV contests.
All in all then, considering the potential impact of human error on the numbers recorded, the somewhat spurious categorization of the kinds of punches thrown, and the notoriously subjective nature of boxing’s four-point scoring criteria, what we are left with is a system containing significant flaws. The wider point here though is not that CompuBox is a completely useless tool or that it should be abandoned. The point is rather a cautionary one: while CompuBox stats can provide valuable insight into the activity unfolding in the ring and a fascinating guide to understanding the ebbs and flows of a particular contest, we should remember that it is ultimately just that – a guide.
As the CompuBox website itself clearly states: “CompuBox stats in no way, shape or form, determine a winner of a fight. The stats are used to enhance a telecast, show the estimated barometer of activity by both fighters and paint a picture of the activity on a round-by-round basis.”
We would do well to remind ourselves of these words more often in the aftermath of a controversial decision. The troubles with CompuBox only arise when the numbers are cited as incontrovertible “proof” that a fighter was dominant or used to justify cries of “robbery” – without putting them in context of the wider judging criteria, or considering that they could just be plain wrong.
Andre Ward crushes Sergey Kovalev and shows he is King
Andre Ward crushes Sergey Kovalev and shows he is King
By: Kirk Jackson
Silencing the opinions of fans and critics amongst the media, Andre “SOG” Ward 32-0 (16 KO’s) defended his WBA, IBF and WBO light heavyweight titles defeating Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev 31-2-1 (26 KO’s) via eighth-round technical knockout in their highly anticipated rematch.
Ward picked up where he left off in their first encounter; using lateral movement and angles to navigate inside the Kovalev’s dungeon of danger. Ward avoided the full brunt force of the hazardous, powerful 1-2 combinations (straight right hands, left jabs) of Kovalev while unleashing his own devastating attack.
As menacing as Kovalev’s punches can be, Ward proved again his will and fistic sophistication is even more demoralizing.
“I think it was plain to see that I broke him mentally and physically,” said Ward in a post-fight interview.
“I’m not a person that demands respect or none of that. You don’t have to respect me and I don’t demand anything, but at a certain point and time, you got to give a person their just do. I’m 13 years in and I’ve been doing it against the best.”
In crushing Kovalev from a physical standpoint, the emphasis of Ward’s attack was towards the body. A successful strategy utilized in their initial encounter.
After taking command during the first half of the first fight, Kovalev slowly succumbed to the constant pressure applied from Ward; squandering his lead and losing his titles in the process.
As the bigger man and the fighter thought of as the more threatening figure based off his destructive punching power, Kovalev looked worn for wear heading into the later rounds. The “Krusher” looked deflated after a hard fought highly competitive battle.
The same strategy proved successful the second time around.
“When I saw him react to the body shots that were borderline, I knew I had him,” Ward said. “Go back down there. Why get away from it?”
“Then I hurt him with a head shot and I just had to get the right shots in there to get it over with. That one’s probably borderline – he was hurt, I went right back there again, he wasn’t reacting, right back there again and the referee stopped it.”
And as with the first fight, the second fight also appears boiled in controversy. In which HBO, the network responsible for broadcasting the event contributed to regarding confusion the first time around.
Whether it’s the dubious scorecards from longtime HBO judge Harold Lederman, or the questionable calls of analysis from play-by-play commentator Jim Lampley, more times than not, the casual fan is misinformed regarding the content and story of the fight.
The controversy regarding the results of the rematch stems from the interpretation of what is perceived as effective body punches or illegal low blows.
Critics, most notably Kovalev’s promoter, Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, points to low blows from Ward as a reason Kovalev lost yet another fight to Bay Area boxer. HBO analyst and boxing legend Roy Jones Jr. suggests otherwise.
“We saw earlier that he [Kovalev] was complaining from a borderline body shot and anytime someone fakes that much from a borderline body shot it makes it hard for you not to go back down there if you a seasoned veteran,” said Jones.
“It was borderline but when your cup is above your navel, the ref usually tells you I’m not gonna call these shots low right below the belt, because your belt is above your navel.”
Bob Bennett is the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The bout between Ward and Kovalev took place in Las Vegas, NV.
Bennett talked to the referee in charge of the fight, Tony Weeks. Bennett also expressed his confidence and belief that Weeks made the correct decision regarding the bout between Kovalev and Ward.
“I felt we had it right the first time. And I thought Tony did a great job this time,” Bennett said to USA Today.
“I’ve reviewed the fight this morning. I looked at those punches that were allegedly low, and even spoke to (HBO’s) Tom Hauser, who sent me a video, saying one of those punches was low but it was very hard to determine because Kovalev’s arm was by his waist, and the punch looks like it comes up underneath and hits on the belt line.”
Bennett continued, “It’s rather interesting at the end that when Ward hits him in the stomach at the end, he sat on the ropes. And the punch looked good. Weeks was in good position to see where those blows landed and they’re right on the belt line.”
“Are they close? Sure. But do they look good? Yeah. Did he have one or two low blows where Tony told him to keep them up? You could argue that he did. But at the same time you could argue that Kovalev put Ward in numerous headlocks and Tony had to reprimand both of them. I think the stoppage was good.”
Bennett’s assessment, along with Weeks’ assessment of where Ward’s punches landed regarding Kovalev’s belt line, reiterates the observation and analysis from HBO analyst Roy Jones Jr.
What we have from Duva and Team Kovalev is a litany of excuses. Ironic as the theme for this particular event is “No Excuses.”
“Excuses” correlates to the main reason Kovalev suffered defeat against Ward not only once, but twice.
This isn’t just the physical element at play. Yes this is a sport, this is boxing, the highest form of competition, one on one battle, where physicality matters. But there was a psychological war waging as well.
Kovalev’s foundation and mental makeup is constructed as a carefully crafted portrait of a cerebral, cold blooded killer. What was left out is the mountain of lies and excuses shadowing this illustration.
There are two types of people.
The first type makes excuses for their shortcomings and lacks accountability.
The second type recognizes and accepts their flaws and weaknesses, while making necessary adjustments to correct mistakes and progress forward.
Excuses can be regarded as a sign of mental weakness.
As great of a fighter Kovalev is, rising to the top of the sport bullying fighters and relying on intimidation; mainly predicated from his punching prowess, he lacks accountability regarding his deficiencies.
He mocked fighters, singled out and disrespected groups of people varying in sex and background en route to his rise of success.
Whether it’s suggesting to the two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa Shields, that women should be at home making family life comfortable, or addressing Haitian-Canadian, light heavyweight rival Adonis Stevenson as a monkey, referring to Ismail Sillakh and African-American fighters as “negros,” along with other references aimed at “dark-skinned people,” is uncalled for.
Referring to Grover Young as a “thoroughbred nigga” further implies ignorance and immaturity.
Utilizing memes and videos, attributing idiotic stereotypes based on someone’s skin complexion and background is another red flag.
Former light heavyweight champion Beibut Shumenov of Kazakhstan, expressed his belief in Kovalev’s narrow-minded bigotry in an interview with Ring Magazine.
“I was shocked when I heard about his racist comments that he said in reference about African-Americans. There was no misinterpretation or lost in Russian-to-English translation of what he said,” Shumenov said.
“He will have to live with the derogatory words that he said in print and video. A lot of my team are African-Americans, and they are more than members of my team, they are family to me. They have my back and I have theirs, and I have zero respect for racist views of any kind.”
Do you notice a pattern here?
Whether its disrespectful remarks hurled towards peers, distasteful comments and tweets, or thoughtless posts across various social media outlets, character is often revealed through particular actions.
The “Krusher’s” character is on full display.
But what happens to the bully once he’s confronted? The bully usually folds. The case with Kovalev and Ward is a classic example. Ward stood up to Kovalev.
Regarding their fights, it’s why entering the jaws of death (fighting in range of Kovalev’s punching power) was imperative for the success of Ward.
It leaves a psychological effect; telling the bully I’m still here regardless of your tactics.
The “Krusher” openly and adamantly discussed his desire to end Ward’s career. Time and time again, his tag line for the rematch and this was directed at Ward, “I’m going to end your career motherfucker!!”
Perhaps it was just for promotion for their fight, although there appears to be genuine dislike between camps.
After suffering consecutive defeats and the last by TKO to Ward, it now appears Kovalev’s career is heading down the drain.
The question is who will fight Kovalev now? He is still a great fighter and arguably still one of the best fighters pound-for-pound.
But that’s the underlying issue; he’s still a great fighter, possessing terrorizing power, but lacks leverage or incentive to garner fights.
So which upcoming challenger is going to take the risk of fighting him? The question beckoning for that challenger is the financial compensation worth the risk of potentially losing?
It’s unlikely he and Ward will mix it up for a third time. The option of WBC and Lineal light heavyweight champion Stevenson appears improbable due to failed negotiations of the past.
As far as figuring Kovalev’s next step, these duties fall under the promoter and management team correct? The same promoter responsible for paying Kovalev.
— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) June 15, 2017
Or not paying him, depending on the live gate and pay-per-view success of this past event.
Duva is clearly frustrated, displaying emotional discomfort during a trying time for her fighter who is short on options.
It’s also fitting the fighter and promoter in this instance is paired together.
Now this isn’t an obituary for Kovalev or his promoter Duva.
The 34-year-old former champion can work his way back to title contention, it’s just a matter of how he decides to do so and if he decided to remain in the light heavyweight division.
Regarding the winner of last weekend’s festivities, Ward proved yet again, he is the best fighter pound-for-pound.
Speaking to HBO after the fight Ward said, “Let me ask you the question, can I get on the pound-for-pound list now? At the top?”
Five time world champion, winner of the Super Six World Boxing Classic, unified champion at super middleweight and light heavyweight.
He overcomes every test and every adversity placed in front of him; whether it’s nagging injuries, criticism from fans and the media, or physical and psychological challenges of his opponents. No excuses, he rises to the occasion.
After conquering the super middleweight division, he moved up to a loaded light heavyweight division and just knocked out the biggest bully in boxing.
Enough said, crown him.
Kovalev Gets Shafted by Ward and the Referee Again!
Kovalev Gets Shafted by Ward and the Referee Again!
By: Ken Hissner
Foul’s ended two fights while the Nevada commission allowed this to happen on the PPV event. The event was held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, Events Center in Las Vegas, NV. Another black eye for boxing!
WBO, WBA and IBF light heavyweight champion Andre “S.O.G.” Ward, was given the stoppage over Russian Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, 30-2-1 (16), of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, at 2:29 of the 8th round.
In the opening Kovalev outlanded Ward who did more clinching than fighting. In the second round Kovalev used an effective jab. Ward hit Kovalev low and referee Tony Weeks gave him a minute rest. In the third round Kovalev landed the best punch of the fight up until that point a right to the head of Ward. In the fourth round Ward got in a jab and right hand though Kovalev continued to press the action. Looked like the first round Ward won.
In the fifth round Kovalev bloodied Ward’s nose. In the sixth round Ward landed a good left hook to the chin of Kovalev. Kovalev continues to outpunch Ward. In the seventh round Ward outlanded Kovalev in a close round. In the eighth round Ward rocked Kovalev with a right to the head hurting him. Kovalev did his best to hold on but was hit low for the third time without losing a point. The fourth low blow doubled Kovalev over while the referee Ton Weeks suddenly stopped the fight not DQ’ing Ward but giving him the win.
Judges Glen Feldman and Dave Moretti had Ward ahead 67-66 while Steve Weisfeld had Kovalev ahead 68-65 as did this writer.
WBA Super World Super bantamweight champion Cuban southpaw Guillermo Rigondeaux, 18-0 (12), of Miami, FL, hit Flores “after the bell” but the referee was overruled by the Executive Director Bob Bennett ruling a knockout over IBO Super bantamweight champion Moises “Chucky” Flores, 25-1 (17), of Guadalajara, MEX, at the end of the 1st round.
For some reason referee Robert Byrd was allowed to talk and influence Bennett while referee Vic Drakulich wanted it called a NC. Bennett said it was a punch before the bell sounded though the replay showed it was after the round. Bennett said he got word from the truck confirming it was before while HBO commentator Jim Lampley of HBO said he called someone in the truck and got the opposite answer. Roy Jones, Jr. agreed it was a knockout despite watching the replay show it was a punch “after the bell”.
In the first round Flores did all the punching until the 10 second warning when Rigondeaux grabbed Flores behind the head and hit him with a pair of uppercuts to the midsection when the bell sounded Rigondeaux hit Flores with a left hand to the head and to the canvas.
USBA Middleweight champion Luis Arias, 18-0 (9), of Milwaukee, WI, stopped Arif Magomedov, 18-2 (11) at 1:16 of the 5th round.
In a close 4 rounds Arias was allowed to clinch and hit Magomedov in the kidney and behind the head without warning from referee Robert Byrd. In the 5th round during a clinch referee Byrd out of position behind Magomedov grabbed him by the arms while Arias “sucker punched” him to the head. Referee Byrd only warned Arias without taking a point. Within 30 seconds a right hand from Arias dropped Magomedov. After beating the count Arias jumped on him causing referee Byrd to halt the fight.
WBA World light heavyweight champion, Dmitry Bivol, 11-0 (9), of St. Petersburg, RUS, stopped southpaw Cedric Agnew, 29-3 (15), of Chicago, IL, at 1:27 of round 4.
In the opening round Bivol dropped Agnew with a combination to the head. In the following 2 rounds Bivol beat up on Agnew who kept his hands up and threw very little in return. In the fourth round Agnew suffered a bloody nose and swelling under both eyes. Bivol landed a left hook driving Agnew back a few steps forcing referee Russell Mora to wisely call a halt.
It was a sad night for boxing. NV insists on using their own referee who are average at best. The PPV buyers got shortchanged again!
Ward Stops Kovalev With Violent Body Attack
Ward Stops Kovalev With Violent Body Attack
By: Sean Crose
No one could have predicted this. No one.
For Andre Ward stopped the frightening Sergey Kovalev…with body blows in the eighth round. Truly, it was a stunning and brutal end for the light heavyweight title fight. For it was Kovalev who was long known as the terrifying ring monster. Ward, on the other hand, was seen more as the tactician. Yet ultimately the bout came down to tactical destruction. Seeing Kovalev crumpled helpless by the ropes was simply stunning for fight fans to see.
Photo Credit: HBO
It was some kind of fight.
And, sure enough, the fight seemed VERY close throughout. Kovalev’s shot were hard and he was as aggressive as they came as he stalked Ward about the ring. The night, however, ultimately belonged to Ward “I’ve never been the most talented,” Ward claimed after the bout, as he thanked Jesus. “I’ve never been the biggest.” He didn’t need to be, either. Even though it looked to this writer that he was losing almost as many rounds as he was winning, Ward’s body attack took a brutal toll on his Russian nemesis.
Kovalev claimed that Ward hit him low on several occasions. On the last occasion, however it seemed as if Kovalev was feinting injury from a submarine shot that wasn’t actually a submarine shot. Indeed, the shot seemed to land on the beltline at worst. Perhaps Ward sensed it, too, for Kovalev was clearly hurt shortly thereafter. And then the Oakland native went for the kill, ending things by tearing into the body rather than the head. It proved to be a perfect strategy, as referee Tony Weeks stepped in and stopped the bout.
It was an interesting night of boxing in other ways, as well. For Guillermo Rigondeaux knocked out Moises Flores with a shot that clearly landed after the bell closed the second round of their super bantamweight fight. Whether the shot was launched before or after the bell rang was a matter of some debate – but it was the Miami resident’s bout…at least for the time being.
In earlier fights, Dmitry Bivol stopped Cedric Agnew in a light heavyweight bout that made it clear that Agnew no longer has the skill which once troubled Sergey Kovalev a few years ago. Earlier still, Luis Arias dominated Arif Magomedov in the fifth round of a middeweight affair.