By Rob Day
Quite a quiet, relaxing day full of nothingness and the usual humdrum and then I tuned into my favourite boxing show on the net: TalkinBoxing with Billy C, broadcast out of New York, in the good old US of A. Tuned in and listened to a fantastic debate about Compubox and how accurate it actually is.
I have seen quite a few HBO and ESPN shows using the Compubox system that counts the number of punches thrown and landed by both fighters for each round and for the duration of the fight. In truth, I would see the figures and never question there validity or accuracy but several great points for debate were raised by Billy C and the other hosts/guests including Scotty Crouse and Alex Alex Pierpaoli.
CompuBox, Inc. started in 1985 and it really has gone from strength to strength in Boxing and more recently MMA, it’s the market leader in this field and for me a welcome addition to a boxing broadcast. At each fight, two operators sit at ringside and each counts the punches thrown and landed by the fighters, one operator concentrates on Fighter A and the other operator on Fighter B. The punches are recorded by the operator tapping a pad that feeds the info in to the Laptop.
Is it accurate?
For me its not 100% accurate, as you have several different things coming into play. It sounds simple sitting watching a fighter and then tapping a pad each time he throws and then lands a punch but a similar system is used in amateur boxing where they have five judges counting the punches landing – if 3 out of the 5 judges see a punch land and tap their pad, then the punch gets counted as a point. Sounds good in theory but the judging at the recent Commonwealth Games in India was woeful. From my TV, I’d see the punch land but apparently all 5 judges missed it! Listening to former WBC Super Middleweight Champion Richie Woodhall, doing the commentary for the BBC, you could hear his anger at the amount of times the judges kept getting it wrong.
Compubox, unlike amateur boxing, only uses two people and, to be honest, less seems better in this instance and I use the amateur system to highlight what is basic human error when recording punches live. Compubox have two people seated at ringside and recording the punches – sounds easy! But you have a restricted view at points in the fight, so can’t possibly see what punches were landed all the time. The ref may get his big old butt in the way, as some do annoyingly get in the way of the camera sometime.
How do you count thrown and landed punches by people like Hector Camacho, Sugar Ray Leonard and Meldrick Taylor, when they were at their best? Those guys would, and often did, unload a blistering salvo of 8 or more punches at a time. It’s very difficult if you ask me to count every punch in real-time.
The punches landed are broken down into two categories; jabs and power punches. This for me is too vague when looking at it overall. Some fighters use a ramrod jab that’s harder than another fighter’s left hook. Jabs can be pitty pat or be used to set up a follow up power punch or, a jab like say, Frank Bruno, used to use, will take your head off. (And is really a power punch) Does anyone class a Paul Malignaggi uppercut, cross or hook as a power punch? Ok, I’m being over picky here but you see the point when you hear on the broadcast “total power punches landed” – it isn’t a completely accurate picture.
For me, 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 and it should always be remembered that the live figures aren’t completely accurate due to very likely human error. Also, it’s not showing the overall picture as I pointed out with regards to anything other than a jab being called a power punch.
Boxing has a few different opinions on who wins a fight; the judges – they get it wrong sometimes; the commentators and analysts – they get it wrong from time to time; the fans/viewers watching – not all see the same winner and Compubox which tries to record the number of punches, but its not a fail safe system and a bit like the Amateur scoring system (where punches landed get missed).
At the end of the day the viewer/fan has to make up his own mind on who wins a fight based on what he/she witnessed. Once I’ve watched the fight, I then look at the bigger picture and compare my score with how the commentators scored it and the figures presented by Compubox.
Could it be made better?
I believe it can and several great points were raised by the host Billy C on his talkinboxing show. Firstly, the fight should be re-scored afterwards using replay and this method is going to be a truer reflection on the number thrown and landed than the live count. It would be quite interesting to see the difference between live and replayed stats. Also, if you’re recounting via replay you could start counting the types of punches i.e hooks, uppercuts etc rather than just categorizing them as power punches.
That’s my two-pence worth on a hot topic. If you want to hear the debate then listen to Wednesdays free TalkinBoxing with Billy C show here: http://talkinboxing.podbean.com/2011/01/19/talkin-boxing-with-billy-c/ and register your vote in the Poll about Compubox here: http://www.billycboxing.com/
It’s a hot potato….catch!