Tagbilaran City, Bohol – The encounter dubbed as the fight of the century is already history. Majority of the fans, particularly those inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena, thought Manny Pacquiao should have been awarded the victory… or were they only booing Floyd Mayweather, Jr. for staying true to his style of boxing, keeping a safe distance with all the occasional elbows, clinches and head locks? Unfortunately for Pacquiao and his legions of fans (yours truly, included), Manny Pacquiao simply got outfoxed. As a result, Mayweather stayed undefeated and won in all judges’ scorecards for a convincing, yet close unanimous decision victory. Here in this piece, we shall discuss a few aspects of pugilistic judgment and some factors that may or may not affect how a judge scores a bout.
Boxing aficionados already know this stuff, but for the benefit of those new to the sport, please read on. Judging boxing matches are highly technical in nature and judges are expected to be as objective as possible – ideally taking one’s emotion out of the task at hand. Bouts are scored on a per-round basis, on a 10-point-must system. Each fighter is given 10 points at the start of every round. The winner of each round, as perceived by the judge, gets 10 points while the other fighter loses 1 point and thus gets 9 points, unless there are knockdowns. In such case, the fighter that hit the deck loses a point for every knockdown in that particular round, apart from the point taken for losing the round.
A judge may also score a 10-8 round in favor of the fighter that clearly dominated the round, even if he didn’t score a knockdown. For this fight in particular, however, there weren’t any knockdowns and no fighter really dominated a round as much to merit a 10-8 nod from any of the judges.
All points awarded to each fighter are then respectively added up at the end of the bout. If a fighter wins in all judges’ scorecards, as in the case of Pacquiao-Mayweather, he wins via unanimous decision. Had one of the judges scored the bout in favor of Pacquiao, it would have been a split decision, but still a victory for Mayweather. If one judge scored a draw, it would have been a majority decision for Mayweather and majority draw had two of them had the fight even.
Punch stats of the Pacquiao-Mayweather encounter support the judges’ scorecards. While it may seem that Pacquiao was the busier pug since he was the one pressing the fight, Mayweather, in fact, threw more punches – 435 to Pacquiao’s 429. ‘Money May’ also connected in 148 of those punches for a 34% connect rate, whereas Pac-Man could only manage to connect a meager 19% of his thrown punches for a total of 81.
Mayweather’s 5-inch reach advantage was in full display Saturday night. As expected, he dominated Pacquiao in the jabs department, connecting 67 of his 267 jabs, while only 18 of the Pinoy Pride’s 193 jabs found its mark.
Now let’s go to the power punches department. Here is where some who thought Pacquiao won the bout may have missed the mark. Manny threw considerably more power punches – 236 to Floyd’s 168. There’s no question that Manny threw a lot of haymakers. The only question is, did they find their mark? Compubox scores suggest otherwise. Mayweather was again more efficient, connecting on 81 power punches, while Pacquiao, for his part, landed only 63 of his own. One might argue,
though, that Manny connected the more telling blows. It again boils down to what the judges valued more – either frequency and efficiency or power and effect or varied levels of both recipes.
I had it 116-112 in favor of Mayweather, similar to two of the three judges that officially scored the bout. This means that I thought Floyd won 8 rounds to Pacquiao’s 4. Then again, it is all about perception. Judges don’t see everything and a judge’s inclinations also significantly affect his scoring, most especially in ‘close’ rounds. A judge may favor aggression over ring generalship or the other way around. There are still a lot more aspects to consider, but it once again boils down to how a judge sees and perceives each round. Their verdict might indicate that Pacquiao’s efforts weren’t as convincing as advocates of the Pacquiao-won-the-fight claim them to be. Floyd occasionally got hit but so did Manny – even more often as the numbers suggest. Simply put, Floyd made the right adjustments that corresponded to the judges’ personal biases. Manny had a very nice game plan, only that the execution left a lot to be desired. What was most glaring, though, was that Team Pacquiao only had one game plan… and that’s a big no-no if you’re facing Floyd Mayweather, Jr., the master of adjustments, himself.