Winners and Losers

There were a lot of things to be excited about and satisfied by with the most recent installment of Premier Boxing Champions on NBC.  Another example of unsurpassed matchmaking brought Andy Lee and Peter Quillin through one of the most brutal, exciting, back-and-forth fights most fans will ever be lucky enough to see.  Lee stubbornly refused to maintain distance from Quillin even having a significant height and reach advantage at three inches each.  When Quillin finally took advantage, it was extremely impressive to see Lee recover as quickly and fully as he did.  Lee mixed in some effective straights to discourage Quillin as the fight wore on, but it was only in the second half of the fight that he managed to demonstrate control of the action.  Lee’s knockdown in round 7 was both thrilling and confusing, as Quillin should have been athletic enough to maintain the advantage he had already established, even fighting defensively.  Lee showed again that he has underrated power and inestimable heart,  but his technique is incredibly frustrating to watch, because he gives up the only natural advantages his body type provides.  I think if he were able to commit himself to an effective jab and work on his distance with Quillin, he could win a rematch by unanimous decision.  Whether that’s an accurate assessment of Lee’s shortcomings or not, many other fans join me in clamoring to see the rematch.  When two fighters are so blissfully paired together to produce such athletic fireworks, it would be a shame to waste the opportunity to learn more about both the fighters from another 12 rounds.

Any regular reader of this blog knows that I’m biased toward the “loser” captured in the image above.  Lamont Peterson is an action fighter from my hometown who consistently shows impressive technique and conditioning, which is a comment that could just as easily be applied to his opponent in the fight, Danny Garcia.  That’s the very reason I was so sure this fight would please the fans and surprise the judges.  Garcia is a top-level fighter who can demolish almost any talented one-dimensional boxer, but he will always struggle when being confronted by a multi-faceted opponent.  In my admittedly less than objective opinion, the score cards were incorrect because of the judges perspective on the first four rounds.  The punch stats recorded by Compubox show that Peterson landed more shots in the first four rounds so volume of punches couldn’t have been a deciding factor for Garcia. At the end of the fight, Peterson’s percentage of shots landed was much higher in all three categories: overall punches, power shots and jabs. Usually when both fighters throw (approximately) the same number of punches, and one lands at a significantly better percentage, that fighter wins. This is not always true, but the fighter landing the more accurate punches being unmarked while his opponent is visibly damaged (see above image) is another cue. Garcia may have landed the hardest shots of the fight and some judges are easily swayed by a few choice shots, it may be in due no small part to the fact that Garcia played to the judges.  In round 4 when Garcia was most frustrated by Peterson’s defensive, counter punching style, Garcia stood with his hands down and motioned as if Peterson was refusing to engage.  Going back to the fight, though, shows that Peterson was not refusing to engage at all.  He threw more punches in most of those rounds and certainly landed more while Garcia tried to find his range.

It is arguable, on the other hand, whether Peterson’s movement was effective.   The scoring dictates that, in order, points are awarded based on effective punching, followed by effective aggression, ring generalship and defense. The last two criteria for those four rounds clearly go to Peterson, so the question is whether the first two criteria could be seen to go to Garcia four times in a row. Based on the number of punches landed according to Compubox, the only possible question remains with effective aggression. Garcia was certainly more aggressive, but I’d be surprised to hear a meaningful argument for his aggression being effective.

Garcia won the fight fairly.  Given the result of the co-feature bout between Lee and Quillin, I am surprised that all three judges were unable to see both sides of the technique being employed by the fighters, but the scores were close, at least.  The unusual circumstances surrounding the championships in the two fights (Peterson and Lee being stripped) didn’t help.The ultimate question about the result of a fight officially rendered inconsequential is which fighter you’d rather be.  Who was the loser? Was it one of the fighters, or the fans who were watching?

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