MANILA, Philippines — In the aftermath of the Pacquiao-Bradley match on Sunday, frustrated fans of the Filipino boxing legend turned to the numbers to lay claim that Manny Pacquiao, indeed, bested Timothy Bradley during their boxing bout on Sunday.
In arguing their point, analysts and spectators turned to statistics provided by a company named CompuBox, whose numbers showed that Pacquiao landed 190 of 493 power punches, compared to Bradley’s 108 out of 390 power punches.
CompuBox has been providing statistics on total punches landed during boxing matches aired by HBO, Showtime, NBC and other pay-per-view promotions since the ’80′s, giving viewers at home a pragmatic perspective of a sport that’s based largely on judges’ subjective opinion.
According to a 2003 article by the Sports Illustrated magazine, CompuBox churns out statistics like the ones during the Pacquiao-Bradley bout using a punch-counting software developed by Bob Canobbio in the 1980′s.
The system works as follows: two individuals each hold keypads that contain four keys corresponding to various actions during the match, such as: jab connect, jab miss, power punch connect and power punch miss.
The operators of the system watch the fight closely to check if each punch landed by the boxer he is assigned to observe corresponds to any of the categories, which is then keyed in using the keypad and recorded by the system in a computer.
CompuBox said its roster of operators include its founder, Bob, and Nic Cannobio; Joe Carnicelli, former UPI sports editor; Dennis Allen, former professional fighter; Saul Avelar, former professional, Lee Groves, noted boxing writer and historian and Andy Kasprzak.
By providing punch numbers throughout the match, CompuBox’s statistics gives viewers at home the chance to judge the match by themselves, making boxing a bit more like other sports that tally scores.
Is CompuBox accurate?
But unlike other sports with scores, CompuBox and boxing differs in a crucial element in that the numbers churned out at the end of the match depend a lot on how the operators of the software see the bout from their vantage point.
“Yes, there’s an element of human error…it’s just guys pushing buttons,” admitted boxing promoter-veteran Lou DiBella.
Sports columnist Rob Day, meanwhile, stressed how the system is not 100-percent accurate given this crucial factor: “Compubox is a very good addition to a show and it gives food for thought but it shouldn’t be taken as a true indicator of who won a fight.”
Day said that due to the quick succession of jabs during a match, the operators could just as easily miss a successful power punch and easily ruin the statistic entirely.
CompuBox, however, is said to be looking at ways to improve the system and make the punch-recording mechanism more accurate, such as “[putting] transmitters into the gloves to measure force, speed and impact,” Cannobio was quoted as saying in an earlier interview, although the system has remained pretty much the same since then.
Given the boxing world’s strict rules on what goes in and around boxers’ gloves during game time, eager fans may have to put a little bit more trust on the shoulders of CompuBox’s operators to get a more measured sense of boxing matches.