CompuBox Preview + Prediction: Bivol-Pascal

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With Eleider Alvarez's upset of Sergey Kovalev to win the WBO title, Adonis Stevenson's long periods of inactivity that are excused by the WBC, and the chin problems exhibited by IBF counterpart Artur Beterbiev (who still has a perfect KO record), the WBA's Dmitry Bivol is looking more like the best light heavyweight in the world more by default than anything else. But if he is to stamp himself as the top man without any qualifiers, he must not only defeat former titlist Jean Pascal (who lost a decision to Alvarez in June 2017 and was stopped twice by Kovalev), he must do so in dominant and dynamic fashion.

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Pascal, on the other hand, broke his promise to his mother and grandmother that he would retire -- win, lose or draw -- following his upset win over 16-0 prospect Ahmed Elbiali by winning an eight-round decision (at cruiserweight) against Steve Bosse in July, and the power of his name was enough to gain this title opportunity. Far older men than the 36-year-old Pascal have been successful at 175 -- Pascal was victimized by one in Bernard Hopkins and the 41-year-old Stevenson has been champ since 2013 -- so history suggests time hasn't passed Pascal by yet. Can Pascal add his name to a list of late-career champs that include Dick Tiger, Archie Moore and Bob Fitzsimmons, or will Bivol once again prove that youth, more times than not, will be served? 

Shut-Down Mode

In boxing, the name of the game is to hit and not be hit, and while many have rendered themselves boring or even unwatchable in pursuit of this ideal, Bivol has been exciting and effective. On offense, Bivol has inflicted considerable damage in his five most recent fights against Samuel Clarkson (KO 4), Cedric Agnew (KO 4), Trent Broadhurst (KO 1), Sullivan Barrera (KO 12) and Isaac Chilemba (W 12) and the proof can be seen in the stats as he averaged 14 more punches per round (53.6 vs. 39.6), lapped his opponents in terms of total connects per round (17.3 vs. 5.7), landed jabs per round (6.7 vs. 2.0) and power connects per round (10.6 vs. 3.7), and landed with above average precision in each phase (32.3% overall, 23% jabs, 44% power as opposed to the division averages of 30%, 21% and 37% respectively). He also has scored eight knockdowns in his last five fights (three against Clarkson, two versus Agnew and Broadhurst and one against Barrera). But it is on defense that Bivol has shined; in his last five fights he has put together defensive figures that would make Floyd Mayweather, Erislandy Lara and Guillermo Rigodeaux smile as he allowed just 14% of his opponents' overall punches, 9% of their jabs and 22% of their power punches to get through. Also, Bivol has not allowed an opponent to land 10 or more total punches in the last 31 rounds; the last time an opponent achieved double-digits in that category was when Clarkson landed 10 in round two of their April 2017 match. Also, in his last eight fights dating back to his May 2016 fight against Felix Valera, Bivol has out-landed his opponents in terms of total punches in 57 of the 59 rounds fought, including a string of 45 in a row that began in round 10 against Varela and ended in round eight against Chilemba in Bivol's most recent outing (Chilemba led 9-7 in total connects). He enters the Pascal match with a modest four-round string.

One possible hope for Pascal -- a notorious low-output fighter -- is that Chilemba successfully slowed the pace to a crawl with his ring generalship and spoiling tactics while also keeping Bivol's power in check. Bivol averaged just 37.3 punches per round to Chilemba's 39.3 because Chilemba threw more total punches in the final six rounds, but because Bivol was much more accurate (35%-16% overall, 24%-13% jabs, 51%-19% power), he ended the fight with connect gaps of 154-73 overall, 67-37 jabs and 87-36 power. Better yet for Bivol, he completed the 12-round fight strong as he out-landed Chilemba 38-16 overall and 28-6 power in rounds 10-12. 

Is Less More?

Pascal has long been one of boxing's most selective fighters in terms of output, and, because of that, the only way he wins is by making the most of what he throws while also limiting his opponents' success. That was what happened against Elbiali, who, despite being 16-0, lacked the experience to counteract Pascal's tactics or the stamina to maintain his work rate. Elbiali averaged 49.3 punches per round in rounds 1-3, but plummeted to 29.6 in rounds 3-6. Meanwhile Pascal, who averaged a robust (for him) 43.2 punches per round, cashed in with his wild overhand power shots as he landed 50% of them to Elbiali's 38%, attacked the body hard (he led 43-27 in body connects) and ended the fight with a series of unanswered power shots in the sixth. For the fight, he led 112-69 overall and 108-57 power while prevailing 46%-30% in total accuracy.  

In the five fights before Elbiali (Lucian Bute, Yunieski Gonzalez, Alvarez and Kovalev twice), Pascal averaged a measly 30.9 punches per round to his opponents' 49.7 and was out-landed in all phases (15.8-14.1 total connects per round, 7.2-2.9 jab connects per round, 8.6-8.2 landed power shots per round) despite being the more accurate hitter overall (36%-32%) and in power punches (45%-35%). It also was telling that Pascal was 2-3 in those fights, and some say he could have been 1-4 as Gonzalez lost a close but unanimous decision. To sum up: Pascal's low output forces him to walk a delicate tightrope; all the factors must fall into place to give him the best chance to win. Can Pascal create that environment or will Bivol break through -- and break Pascal in the process? 

Inside The Numbers

Bivol landed/threw at the light. heavy. avg. for total punches.  His jab (6.6 landed per round) is better than avg. and he landed 43.6% of his power shots. Bivol does not go to the body with regularity, as just 14.4% of his landed punches are body shots- CompuBox avg.: 25.8%.  Bivol opponents landed just 3.7 power shots per round and just 22.2% of their power punches.  Pascal avg'd nearly 20 fewer punches thrown than the light heavy avg., but landed 41.7% of his power shots (only 8.6 per round).  pascal goes to the body well, as 36.2% of his landed punches are body shots. Pascal opponents landed 34.3% of their power shots. 

Prediction

If Pascal is to pull off the huge upset, he will need to slow the pace to his level and hope that his accurate power shots will draw more attention from the judges and deter Bivol from throwing combinations. The Chilemba fight showed that Bivol can be slowed by guile and negativity, but Pascal isn't that kind of fighter. He is an offensive-minded athlete who chases the one-punch KO and, against Bivol, his lack of output will prove disastrous. Bivol's advantages in height, reach, volume, shot-for-shot power and youth as well as his deep amateur background and puncher's confidence will add up to a TKO victory, a win that will elevate Bivol's standing and should send Pascal into final retirement. 

CompuBox Preview and Prediction: Jacobs vs. Derevyanchenko

Photo: Ed Mulholland

Photo: Ed Mulholland

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Everyone knows that in sports -- and especially in boxing -- money often forces people who are otherwise friendly with one another to toss aside the personal in favor of the professional and compete for the biggest prizes on the biggest stages for the biggest purses. That certainly will be the case with the fight between Daniel Jacobs and Sergiy Derevyanchenko, men who have reportedly sparred more than 300 rounds and call Andre Rozier his chief second. 

Because Gennady Golovkin chose to fight Saul Alvarez in a big-money rematch instead of facing mandatory challenger Derevyanchenko for far less money, GGG was stripped of the IBF belt and this fight was foisted on Team Derevyanchenko as well as Rozier. Rozier was presented with the same quandary as Angelo Dundee when Muhammad Ali and Jimmy Ellis signed to fightj in mid-1971. Ali solved the problem by granting Dundee permission to work with Ellis. The reason: As Ellis' manager, Dundee stood to make a bigger share of the purse and he wanted his loyal friend to maximize his pay check. Meanwhile, Ali hired Harry Wiley (who worked with Henry Armstrong and Ali's hero Sugar Ray Robinson) on a one-fight-only basis. Meanwhle, Rozier opted to work with Jacobs because he regarded Jacobs as a son while he saw Derevyanchenko as a nephew. For the record, Derevyanchenko's chief second will be Gary Russell Sr., father of WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. 

How will this intramural match turn out? Will they fight like brothers who place love over competition or will they fight like brothers who want dearly to earn bragging rights for the rest of their lives? Let's hope it's the latter.

Life After Golovkin

Jacobs has fought twice since losing to Golovkin over 12 rounds, and, in light of his 12-round decision wins over heavy underdogs Luis Arias and Maciej Sulecki, one must wonder if Jacobs has lost his vaunted KO touch. That would be nit-picking, of course, because Jacobs was in control throughout most of those 24 rounds, control that included one knockdown each in round 11 against Arias and in round 12 against Sulecki. Arias produced plenty of pre-fight bluster but failed to back it up in the ring as he averaged a meager 26.5 punches per round and reached double-digit connects in only two rounds while Jacobs, who averaged a mild 48.4 punches per round, out-landed Arias 184-88 overall, 44-18 jabs and 140-70 power, produced a 12 rounds to zero sweep in terms of total connects and landed power shots, and led 45%-32% in power accuracy. In the end, the Arias fight was the perfect way for Jacobs to begin the next phase of his career.  

Against Sulecki, however, Jacobs experienced more difficulty, mostly because Sulecki decided to engage Jacobs before Jacobs' hometown fans in Brooklyn -- and for those Polish fans who were there to cheer for him. Sulecki produced better output (54.8 punches per round to Jacobs' 52.6) and he had flickers of success that Arias never produced. But like the Arias fight, at least in a macro sense, Jacobs was in control throughout most of the contest as the CompuBox round-by-round breakdown had Jacobs up 11-0-1 in total connects and power shots, and ahead 205-143 overall, 39-37 jabs and 166-106 power as well as 33%-22% overall, 19%-12% jabs and 39%-30% power. Better yet for Jacobs: He produced the better finishing kick in both fights. In rounds 8-12, Jacobs out-landed Arias 107-43 overall, 21-6 jabs and 86-37 power while, against Sulecki, he prevailed 81-57 overall and 69-43 power during that same period. That's pretty impressive for a man who, before his current string of 12-round fights, had fought past round eight only once in his first 29 pro fights. In a nutshell, the evolution of Daniel Jacobs continues. 

 

Playing the Numbers

Derevyanchenko is a statistician's dream because he blends excellent volume, exceptional jabbing and enviable accuracy no matter what target he spots. In nine CompuBox-tracked fights between March 2013 and August 2017, Derevyanchenko averaged 70.4 punches per round to his opponents' 47.4, more than doubled their total connects per round (26.1 to 11.5) as well as their power connects per round (18.9 to 9.1), dominated the battle of the jabs (30.5 attempts/7.2 connects per round to his foes' 18.1/2.4) and connected with far more precision in all phases (37%-24% overall, 24%-13% jabs, 47%-31% power). A good sign of Derevyanchenko's progression (and talent level) is that many of these gaps were maintained as he elevated his level of opposition. His most recent outing was against Tureano Johnson, who had secured a fight with GGG but had to withdraw due to a shoulder injury. Derevyanchenko scored a 12th round TKO win in this IBF title eliminator, and the numbers match up well with his previous profile: An activity gap of nearly 25 punches per round (72.9 to 48.1), dominant jabbing despite his 5-foot-9 stature (32.4 attempts/8.3 connects per round to Johnson's 9.6/1.2), connect gulfs of 336-170 overall, 93-13 jabs and 243-157 power, and accuracy differences of 41%-31% overall, 26%-12% jabs and 54%-36% power.

Like Jacobs, Derevyanchenko had plenty in the tank despite the demanding pace he set; in fact, it was Johnson who hit the wall in round 11 and who fell from a devastatingly precise combination early in round 12. If Derevyanchenko can perform at this level against strangers, how well will he perform against someone with whom he sparred hundreds of rounds? 

Inside The Numbers

The selective Jacobs (47 punches thrown per round in last 6 fights), landed 41.8% of his power punches and landed/threw slightly below the middle. avg. for jabs. As a result of his selectiveness (and power), Jacobs opponents landed just 9.8 punches per round and just 6.2 power shots.  Derevyanchenko, making a huge step up in class, landed nearly 40% of his total punches and a whopping 51.9% of his power shots (18.7 per round).  Dere opponents landed a noticeable 34.5% of their power punches (10.6 per round/middle avg.: 11.8).  The body attack, to this point has not been a factor for either fighter, as just 21.5% of Jacobs landed punches are body shots to 24.5% for Derevyanchenko (CompuBox avg.: 25.8%) 

Prediction

Derevyanchenko is the toughest opponent Jacobs has faced since Golovkin, and, unlike the GGG fight, Jacobs can't ignore the IBF-mandated morning-of-the-fight weigh-in to prevent fighters like himself to abuse the system (he reportedly rehydrated to nearly 190 pounds against Golovkin, a factor that likely helped him survive the fourth-round knockdown and absorb GGG's fire for the remainder of the bout). While Derevyanchenko is a natural middleweight, Jacobs is a cruiserweight masquerading as a middleweight. And, at age 31, the strain of managing his weight overnight following the first weigh-in is magnified.

Three factors will help Jacobs greatly: His talent level, the fact that this fight will take place in New York City and his familiarity with Derevyanchenko. The Ukrainian, starving for a title bout for years, will bring his best, and that best will test Jacobs like he's seldom been tested. But Jacobs is the bigger puncher of the two -- and the much bigger human being. Size does matter in boxing, and so does elite talent. Jacobs has both, and because of that he'll win on points.

CompuBox Preview and Prediction: Canelo-Golovkin 2

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By CompuBox

What a difference a year makes.

The buildup to last September's first fight between Gennady Golovkin and Saul Alvarez was, for the most part, respectful, and the fight, while good, left a sour taste thanks to questionable judging by Don Trella (at least in round seven) and Adalaide Byrd (whose 118-110 score for Alvarez has irreparably tarnished her reputation). Dave Moretti, the lone judge whose card reflected conventional wisdom (he had GGG up 115-113), returns to the judging panel for the rematch, but everything else about the encounter has changed.

Because of Alvarez's two failed drug tests this past February, the scheduled May 5 rematch was scuttled and Golovkin opted to fight third-choice opponent Vanes Martirosyan instead. Even before Golovkin destroyed Martirosyan in two rounds, the fury between the fighters and their promoters has escalated exponentially, so much so that it has grown into a genuine grudge match. Will these ill feelings translate to extra dollars? And, more importantly for observers, will they translate into an even better fight?

Act One

GGG-Canelo I produced several intriguing numbers. First, Golovkin out-landed Alvarez 218-169 overall because he was the far more effective jabber (30.1 attempts/9.0 connects per round to 19.4/4.6 for Alvarez) but Alvarez hung tough because he landed more power shots (114-110) and was the more accurate hitter overall (34%-31%) as well as in power shots (42%-32%).

Second, the round-by-round breakdowns — instructive because that's how judges score every fight — saw that Golovkin was ahead 10-1-1 in overall connects and 9-1-2 in jabs but Alvarez was up 7-5 in power connects, including each of the last three rounds (which saw Alvarez out-land GGG 44-32 in that category). This dynamic might explain why Trella and Moretti scored the fight close but it certainly adds justified ammunition for those who decry Byrd's lopsided scoring for Alvarez.

Finally, the numbers confirm a consensus criticism of Golovkin -- his lack of body punching. While Alvarez landed 44 body shots among his 169 total connects (a 26% ratio that is a bit above the CompuBox average of  24.3%), Golovkin landed just 8body shots among his 218 total connects -- an astonishingly anemic 3.8% ratio.

That shouldn't have been so surprising, for body connects accounted for just 14 of his 233 total connects against Daniel Jacobs (6%), 17 of his 133 connects against Kell Brook (12.8%), 10 of his 54 connects against Dominic Wade (18.5%), 16 of his 280 connects against David Lemieux (5.7%) and 25 of his 133 connects versus Willie Monroe Jr. (18.8%). The last time in which body shots accounted for more than 20% of Golovkin's total connects came against Martin Murray (63 of 292, 21.6%) — more than three-and-a-half years ago. (Against Martirosyan, by the way, Golovkin landed just one body shot among his 36 total connects. Will that trend change in the Alvarez rematch?)

A New GGG Approach?

Could the lack of body shots be just a subset to an overall narrative which states that GGG has adopted a more cautious approach as he has aged, or he simply can't pull the trigger as he once was able to? It certainly sounds like it; after all, body punching exposes one's chin to his opponents. At his peak, GGG's bread-and-butter had been high volume combined with extraordinary accuracy.

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In his eleven fights against Rosado thru Wade, Golovkin averaged 68.6 punches per round (middle avg.: 55.1), of which 32.1 were jabs and 36.5 were power shots. He landed 40.1% overall, 34% jabs and 45.8% power as opposed to 24.9%, 15.4% and 33.2% for his opponents. But in his last four fights (Kell Brook, Daniel Jacobs, Saul Alvarez I and Vanes Martirosyan), Golovkin's average output plummeted to 55 per round (still at the middle avg.) and his punch distribution has been 28.5 jabs per round, 26.5 power punches per round.

The drop off is reflected in his power punch output- 10.6 of 26.5 in last 4 compared to 16.7 of 36.5 in previous 11.  He also got hit with a higher pct of power punches (39.3%) in last four compared to 33.2% in previous 11. We must also factor in that Canelo & Jacobs were two of his best opponents.  

Among the categorical leaders, Golovkin (last 15 fights) is fourth in total punches landed per round (25), second in total connect percentage (39.1%), first in landed jabs per round (10.4- he landed 9 per round vs. Canelo I) and jab connect percentage (33.7%) and seventh in terms of the highest percentage of jabs landed in relation to total punches landed (41.6%). Upon seeing these numbers, Golovkin and his team would have reason to stay the course, but if he wants to make a statement — while also getting his pound of flesh — GGG may have to revert to the assassin of yore.

As for Canelo (last 10 fights), his 42.2 punches thrown per round ranks #9 fewest and 12.9 fewer per round than middle. avg.  Canelo landed 45.7% of his power shots, 8.6% higher than the middle. avg. GGG landed 44.1% of his power shots, so both are extremely accurate in that department.

Canelo Versus Aggressors

Alvarez has always performed better against opponents who attack him, and, as evidenced by the information presented by the first bullet point, the Golovkin fight was no exception. If one includes the first Golovkin fight with his bouts against Liam Smith, Alfredo Angulo, James Kirkland and Julio Cesar Chavez, the numbers are impressive. While Alvarez averaged fewer punches per round (47.7 vs. 51.6), he produced huge gaps in connects per round in all phases (20.3 vs. 12 overall, 6.3 vs. 4.3 jabs, 14.1 vs. 7.7 power) as well as extraordinary percentage gulfs of 43%-23% overall, 32%-18% jabs and 51%-28% power.

Conversely, Alvarez's biggest struggles came against stylists who put defense above offense such as Floyd Mayweather Jr., Erislandy Lara, Miguel Cotto (at least for that night), Austin Trout and Amir Khan. In those bouts Alvarez threw eight fewer punches per round (37.5 vs. 45.5), landed fewer jabs (2.6 vs. 6.1) and connected on fewer total punches (10.3 vs. 12.4). While his output was down, his accuracy allowed him to hang in (he led 27.5%-27.3% overall and 39%-35% power). Could this be one reason why Golovkin opted to throttle down his aggression against Canelo in fight one? In most eyes, his approach was more than good enough to get the win, but, given the controversy of fight one, the perceived favoritism toward Canelo in Las Vegas and his own burning desire for vengeance might tempt Golovkin to go for more in fight two -- much more.

Prediction

Golovkin did not fight his best in fight one (he landed just 32.2% of his power shots after landing 46% in his previous 13 fights) and he still was seen as the winner by most of the public. He also has engaged in a warm-up fight in the year since, which should work in his favor. He also has room for improvement in two aspects of his game: Cutting off the ring and attacking the body. Alvarez, on the other hand, has not fought in 364 days — the longest layoff of his career — and with 52 fights and 364 rounds in his nearly 13-year-career, he must be thought of as an older 28. In fact, he may well be at the tail end of his peak years.

Finally, he will, for the first time in who knows how long, be deemed a drug-free fighter. Will the absence of clenbuterol negatively affect his strength as well as his overall performance? Also, how much weight will be gain between the weigh-in and fight time? History suggests he will be north of 170 pounds when he steps inside the ring.

This will be an even better action fight than the first one, but every great aging champ has at least one last big effort in him and GGG will use his here. Canelo is a notoriously methodical worker even in the best of times and if Golovkin wakes up the echoes he might even score a TKO. A more convincing points win, however, is the official guess.

PODCAST: Canelo-GGG 2 Stat Chat (Ep 272)

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney kick off GGG-Canelo 2 Fight Week by discussing four key CompuBox stats that could play pivotal roles once the opening bell rings for the hotly anticipated rematch.

Order the fight here.

CompuBox Preview + Prediction: Estrada vs. Orucuta

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By CompuBox

The 115-pound weight class has historically been action-packed but badly overshadowed because there supposedly hadn't been a market for fighters this small, especially in the United States. That all changed with the rise of Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez, and while the Nicaraguan's star has faded in recent fights, one of his legacies may be the "SuperFly" series, which is now in its third incarnation.

One of the three featured fights pits two-division champ Juan Francisco Estrada and countryman Felipe Orucuta in a scheduled 10-rounder. While Estrada has been near the top of his chosen weight class for a while, the 32-year-old Orucuta is rounding nicely into form as he has scored five straight knockouts -- all within five rounds -- since being stopped by Jose Cayetano in December 2015. But does he have enough "game" to upset Estrada, one of the sport's most versatile and scientific fighters?

Estrada's Overdrive

In his two most recent fights against Carlos Cuadras and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Estrada fell behind in the early rounds but closed strongly in the end. While Estrada's finishing kick enabled him to nip Cuadras at the finish line -- he won 114-113 on all three cards -- he couldn't close the gap enough to upend Sor Rungvisai as Dave Moretti's 114-114 score was superseded by the cards submitted by Cathy Leonard (115-113) and Steve Morrow (a ridiculously wide 117-111).

How strong were Estrada's surges? Against Cuadras, at least numerically, not as much as one would think. In the first five rounds, Cuadras was more active (72 punches per round to Estrada's 58.2, including just 43 in the first two rounds), out-landed Estrada in every round and built connect leads of 116-75 overall, 42-27 jabs and 74-48 power. Estrada began his rally in the sixth by edging Cuadras 19-18 overall and capped it with a 10th round knockdown. But numerically speaking, Estrada's surge was noticeable but not overpowering, for Estrada only out-landed Cuadras 148-144 in rounds 6-12, he finished the fight behind Cuadras in every category (260-221 overall, 93-62 jabs, 167-159 power) and was less accurate overall (29.3%-28.6%) and in power shots (45%-31%). But Estrada's surge was one borne of perception; while Cuadras actually accelerated his work rate in rounds 6-12 (from 72 to 75.1 per round), Estrada's acceleration was far more dramatic (from 58.2 to 68.9, including 77 in the final three rounds) and the knockdown in the 10th cemented the narrative.

The reason why Estrada lost to Sor Rungvisai is twofold. First, Estrada started his surge several rounds too late. Estrada didn't kick into a higher gear until round eight; in rounds 1-7 he averaged 47.4 punches per round to Sor Rungvisai's 63.4 and was out-landed 104-85 overall and 100-68 power. In round eight, Estrada throttled up from 42 punches in the seventh to 68 and he out-landed Sor Rungvisai 20-13 in the eighth, the first time he had done so since the first two rounds. In rounds 8-12, Estrada averaged 67.8 punches per round (including a fight-high 93 in the 12th) -- a 20.4 punch-per-round increase -- and he out-landed Sor Rungvisai 104-90 overall and closed to within 86-79 in power connects. The second reason why Estrada lost was because he couldn't impose his science on Sor Rungvisai; while he still out-jabbed the Thai champion 42-8 in the fight, power punches made up a large portion of both men's output (773 of 879 punches for Sor Rungvisai, or 88% of total output, to Estrada's 443 of 671 punches, or 66%). By making Estrada fight his fight, even when the momentum was lost, Sor Rungvisai's strategic command enabled him to get over the finish line with his title intact. In the final round alone, they combined for 208 total punches (115 for Sor Rungvisai, 93 for Estrada), 187 power shot attempts (112-75 for Sor Rungvisai), 58 total connects (30-28 for Estrada) and 54 landed power shots (28-26 Sor Rungvisai). As for jabs, Sor Rungvisai was 0 of 3 while Estrada was 4 of 18. If Estrada is to win, he must start earlier and he must assert ring generalship.

Late Bloomer?

In his four CompuBox-tracked fights with Omar Narvaez (second fight), Jose Cayetano, Edgar Jimenez and Ricardo Roman, Orucuta's style has evolved in a way that suggests that he has tightened his flaws while incorporating more of his strengths. In the Narvaez rematch, Orucuta threw the most jabs ever recorded in a CompuBox-tracked fight at 115 (672) and threw the second-most punches in division annals (1,372) but he lost a majority decision to the then-WBO super flyweight titlist because (1) he was fighting in Narvaez's native Argentina, (2) he was out-landed 172-163 overall and 20-11 jabs (they tied with 152 power connects) because he was far less accurate (26%-12% overall, 14%-2% jabs, 29%-22%) power, and (3) he was struck by the same punch again and again -- Narvaez's stinging left cross. His tendency to be hit with the same punch also cost him dearly against Cayetano, who kept striking Orucuta with big right crosses. One dropped Orucuta at the end of round three and another nearly decked him in round six. A follow-up flurry opened a cut over Orucuta's right while also badly bruising the entire right side of Orucuta's face, injuries that prompted Hall of Fame trainer Ignacio "Nacho" Beristain to stop the fight between rounds six and seven. Also, despite being taller and rangier, Orucuta allowed Cayetano to decisively out-jab him (39.3 attempts/6.8 connects per round to Orucuta's 14.2 and 2.8), leading to a 41-17 jab connect lead as well as an 82-70 advantage in total connects.

The transition seemed to occur between rounds one and two of the Jimenez fight. In round one, Jimenez out-threw Orucuta 100-42 and out-landed him 25-14, but in round two Orucuta began to box well at long range, nipping in and out and side-to-side, and in round three he hurt Jimenez badly with a sweeping hook to the jaw. His effective boxing allowed him to seize total control of the contest, and an extended flurry along the ropes prompted the stoppage. While Jimenez's output was higher (76.6 to Orucuta's 62.2), Orucuta was much more precise (45%-21% overall, 37%-7% jabs, 51%-27% power), his jab was terrific (24.3 attempts/8.9 connects per round) and his offensive versatility was outstanding. In his most recent fight against Roman, he put all of his positive elements together while virtually eliminating his past flaws. He boxed at long range throughout, jabbing with command (31.8 attempts/9.4 connects per round), producing high output (83.7 punches per round to Roman's 50.3), punched well to the body (he led 39-13), landed accurately in all phases (33% overall, 39% jabs, 36% power) and defended expertly (15% overall, 10% jabs, 16% power) en route to connect leads of 101-27 overall, 34-3 jabs and 67-24 power and the fourth round TKO, which occurred after Roman claimed a shoulder injury. No matter, Orucuta was a tremendous form and, at the same time, he created a perfect preamble for this big step up in class. Will he be able to lift his game further against Estrada?

 

Inside The Numbers

 

Estrada (last 12 fights- Rungvisai thru Chocolatito) landed 24.5 punches per round (#5 among categorical leaders) & 19.1 power punches (#5).  29.8% of Estrada's landed punches were body shots. Orucuta (vs. Roman, Jimenez, Cayetano & Narvaez) threw 25 more punches per round than the wgt. class avg., but landed just 20%.  He can go to the body effectively though, as nearly half his landed punches (46.6%) were body shots.

Prediction

The version of Orucuta that fought Jimenez and Roman is no joke. He's tall, mobile, hard to hit and offensively diversified. He also stands three inches taller and will enjoy a two-and-a-half inch reach advantage. Thus he can force Estrada to abandon his preferred scientific boxing in favor of boring in and inducing a brawl. But Estrada has been a top-shelf combatant for years and that counts for something. He's also highly intelligent and he hasn't always been a slow starter, so that flaw can be fixed. If anyone can figure a way to beat the best Orucuta it's him. Estrada by hard-fought decision.

 

 

 

PODCAST: Muhammad Ali: By The Numbers with CompuBox (Ep 267)

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney are joined by CompuBox's Bob Cannobio and Lee Groves, co-authors of Muhammad Ali: By The Numbers, to discuss the stats that shaped Ali's extraordinary career and the most surprising facts and figures from his fights.

CompuBox Preview and Prediction: Bivol vs. Chilemba

Photo: Ed Mulholland

Photo: Ed Mulholland

By CompuBox

WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol is just one of three Russians to hold a light heavyweight belt, but, at least as of now, he could end up being the best of the bunch. After all, the IBF's Artur Beterbiev is 33 and has been beset by injuries and long layoffs while the WBO's Sergey Kovalev is 35 and won't last forever (the WBC's Adonis Stevenson -- the only non-Russian titlist at 175 -- will turn 41 in September and has no fights scheduled).

At 27, Bivol is in his physical prime, but if he is to rise to the top he must beat the likes of Isaac Chilemba, a hard-luck boxer from Malawi who troubled Kovalev in his first title shot before losing a decision in July 2016. Yes, Chilemba has lost three of his last four fights, but in his most recent outing he traveled to Australia and out-pointed Blake Caparello to earn this second crack at the brass ring.

Stepping Up His Game

Entering his most recent fight against Sullivan Barrera this past March, it was thought that the Cuban represented Bivol's sternest test as a pro. But while the fight got to the 12th, it didn't get through the 12th as a huge right to the temple dropped the 36-year-old challenger and inflicted enough damage that referee Harvey Dock stopped the bout at the 1:41 mark. Up until then Bivol had been dominant. Not only did he lead big on the scorecards (109-100 on all three score sheets), Bivol out-landed Barrera 247-75 overall and 146-65 power thanks to his magnificent jab (34.6 attempts/8.4 connects per round, 24% accuracy), which produced a 97-10 connect gap and helped him produce accuracy gaps of 31%-13% overall and 39%-24% power. Moreover, Barrera barely touched Bivol with his own jab as he landed just 10 of his 333 attempts (3%) and he failed to reach double-digit connects in terms of overall punches (his best was eight in rouhnds six and nine) while Bivol achieved 20 or more total connects eight times, including six rounds in a row (rounds 6-11).

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Bivol's supremacy against Barrera is only a continuation of what he has done at the world-class level. Including the Barrera fight, Bivol has faced opponents with a combined .900 winning percentage (117-12-1), and in those bouts he threw more (60.3 vs. 40 per round), landed more 18.9 to 5.6 total connects per round, 6.8 vs. 1.3 landed jabs per round and 12.1 to 4.3 power connects per round) and did so more accurately (31%-14% overall, 22%-6% jabs, 42%-22% power).

The Perpetual Underdog

In virtually every fight of importance, Chilemba has been cast as the "opponent." Thanks to his fundamentally sound, jab-heavy style, he has upset the applecart as he surprised the 20-0 Doudou Ngumbu (W 12), drew with the 13-0 Thomas Oosthuizen in South Africa, beat the 19-0 Maksim Vlasov (W 10), drew with future cruiserweight titlist Tony Bellew in the first of their two fights, out-boxed the 17-0 Vasily Lepikhin and, in his most recent outing, decisioned Blake Caparello in Australia. But he has endured more than his share of heartbreaks as he lost a majority decision to Eleider Alvarez in Canada despite out-landing the home favorite 151-147 overall, lost the rematch against Bellew when his second-rally rally fell short and lost decisively to Kovalev (L 12) and Oleksandr Gvozdyk (KO by 8 due to a right elbow injury).

In assessing Chilemba's game, it begins and ends with his tremendous jab. In his five victories against Vlasov, Edison Miranda, Michael Gbenga, Denis Grachev and Lepikhin, he averaged 36.5 attempts and 8.8 connects per round, out-threw his foes 68.1 to 46.6 per round and produced excellent percentage gaps of 36%-22% overall, 24%-15% jabs and 49%-27% power). But in his four losses to Bellew (rematch), Alvarez, Kovalev and Gvozdyk, his opponents managed to keep Chilemba's jab in check (27.3 attempts/4.5 connects per round, 17% accuracy), which, in turn, limited his output (50.2 per round for Chilemba, 54.3 for the opponents) and accuracy (24% overall, 33% power to his opponents' 27% and 31% respectively). Chilemba also landed fewer total punches per round (11.9 to his foes' 14.4 overall and 7.5 to 8.7 in terms of power connects per round). So, if Bivol can disrupt Chilemba's jab -- especially with his own -- he will greatly enhance his chances of retaining his title and resuming his excellent run.

Inside The Numbers

Bivol (last 4 fights) is busier than the avg. light heavy (63 thrown per round) and landed 30.4% of his total punches, 7.3 jabs per round and 42.4% of his power shots. Opponents landed a measley 5.4 punches per round (13.6%) and just 4 power shots per round (22.2%).  One blemish: only 16.8% of his landed punches are body shots (CompuBox avg.: 24.2%). Chilemba (last 8 fights) landed 6.9 jabs per round (threw 33.4) and landed 40.4% of his power shots. His defense is better than avg., as opponents landed just 28.3% of their power shots- (7.3 per round)

Prediction

Bivol is younger by three-and-a-half years, but his deep amateur background makes up for Chilemba's longer tenure as a pro as well as his superior quality of opposition. Also, Bivol possesses an excellent jab that could neutralize Chilemba's, and once Chilemba loses the jab, he loses everything else because he lacks the shot-for-shot power to earn Bivol's respect. The early rounds should see plenty of thinking, but once Bivol finds his range he will assert his superiority. The gap could be wide enough for Bivol to score the first injury-free TKO against Chilemba, probably after the halfway mark.

CompuBox Preview and Prediction: Kovalev vs. Alvarez

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By CompuBox

Boxing is often a reflection of life, and in the light heavyweight division one nation -- Russia -- boasts an extraordinary amount of influence. Three of the four belts are owned by Russians and two of them will be fighting on this double-header -- WBO titlist Sergey Kovalev (who will fight longtime WBC mandatory challenger Eleider Alvarez) and his WBA counterpart Dmitry Bivol, who will compete against onetime Kovalev opponent Isaac Chilemba. Left out of the mix -- for now -- is IBF king Artur Beterbiev, who is set to fight Callum Johnson in October to snap an 11-month hiatus.

While Kovalev hopes to maintain his nation's "Iron Curtain" over the 175-pounders, Alvarez, just a year younger than the 35-year-old champion, is finally getting a title opportunity after the mandatory challenger for WBC titlist Adonis Stevenson failed to nail down a match for nearly three years. Yes, Alvarez fought multiple mandatories to cement his status, but he also accepted step-aside money to allow "Superman" to fight others for more money. When it became clear Alvarez wasn't going to fight Stevenson, he jumped at the chance to fight Kovalev. Unfortunately for Alvarez, he'll be doing so following a career-long 14-month layoff.

Resurrecting the Beast

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After spending several years under the cerebral John David Jackson — where he learned to diversify his offense while sharpening his defense — Kovalev broke away from the former 154-pound titlist and rekindled his inner beast under Artur Tursunpulatov, who not only speaks his language verbally, but who also speaks his language inside the ring. The results have been impressive -- and destructive: Three knockdowns scored during a title-winning second-round TKO over Ukraine's Vyachslav Shabranskyy and a seven-round beat-down of countryman Igor Mikhalkin, who never hit the canvas but probably should have. Against Shabranskyy, Kovalev was still economical with his output (56.5 per round) but he made them count as he landed 44% overall, 26% jabs and 62% power, jabbed extremely well (27.5 attempts/7.0 connects per round) and amassed connect leads of 50-16 overall and 36-8 power.

In fight two under Tursunpulatov, more of the old "Krusher" re-emerged as the volume that marked his early years came back in tremendous style. He averaged 77.1 punches per round to Mikhalkin's 40.3, pretty much put the jab to bed (he landed just 13% and landed 21 for the fight), and out-landed his compatriot 186-43 overall and 165-32 power while also producing excellent percentage gaps of 35%-16% overall and 46%-19% power. Moreover, Kovalev tied a career-high with 98 punch attempts in round two (he had thrown 98 in round two against Roman Simakov, who died following their bout), and set new personal bests with 70 attempted power shots in round two, 165 landed power shots for the fight and 362 power punch attempts for the bout. Not many fighters can claim to be reborn at age 35, but, based on these performances under Tursunpulatov, Kovalev has a strong case for stating just that.

Living on the Edge

Alvarez is a careful stylist who is capable of producing a shocking display of out-of-the blue power. Against Lucian Bute, Alvarez broke open a rather boring contest in round five by flooring the longtime 168-pound titlist with a booming counter right to the jaw and a shocking burst ended his rather tentative fight with Nicholson Poulard (the half-brother of common opponent Jean Pascal) in round three. Also, his lashing punches opened three different cuts on Ryno Liebenberg's face before adding a knockdown in the sixth and the stoppage in the seventh.

Much more often than not, however, one must sit through long stretches of pedestrian boxing, which has resulted in Alvarez being out-hustled -- but not yet beaten -- by busier opponents. His decision victory over Argentina's Isidro Ranoni is one such fight; Ranoni averaged 70 punches per round to Alvarez's 40.2, and the Canadian-based Colombian was stunned in rounds one, seven and nine. But Alvarez dug deep enough to stem Ranoni's rallies; he was the stronger man in round 12 (26-20 overall, 17-11 power), was the more accurate hitter throughout (38%-26% overall, 30%-20% jabs, 48%-31% power) and was able to get within striking range in terms of connects (199-195 overall thanks to his 134-130 lead in power shots) so that his home-ring advantage in Canada could kick in (an outrageous 117-111 on all three cards).

Against Issac Chilemba -- from whom he won a majority decision -- he did just enough to survive and advance on his home ground. Chilemba led 151-147 overall, 53-50 jabs and 98-97 power, but his better shot-for-shot power and the fact the output was similar (49.8 per round for Chilemba, 45.3 for Alvarez) helped his cause. One judge scored Alvarez a 118-110 winner -- a confounding score -- but the two other jurists saw it 115-113 for Alvarez and 114-114.

His most recent victory over Jean Pascal — another common foe with Kovalev — was much more convincing, though, in an interesting reversal, Alvarez won only by majority decision. Alvarez's razor-sharp jab (26.4 attempts/8.3 connects per round) recorded five rounds of 10 connects or more and his modest pace (42.3 per round) was more than enough to best the notoriously low-volume Pascal's 30.8. Thus, Alvarez led 174-104 overall thanks to his 99-26 lead in landed jabs (Pascal prevailed 78-75 in landed power shots, but Alvarez led 34%-28% overall, 31%-19% jabs and 39%-34% power).

Inside The Numbers

Kovalev (last 9 fights) landed/threw around the light heavy. avg. in all categories, while opponents,  respectful of his punching power, landed just 7.9 punches per round- half the light heavy avg. and just 4.7 power shots per round- also half the light. heavy. avg. & #3 on the CompuBox Categorical Leaders list.  Alvarez (last 4 fights), is not busy (42 thrown per round), but did land 38.8% of his power shots. Opponents landed a healthy 33.8% of their power shots. Only 21.5% of Kovalev's landed punches are body shots, while 33.7% of Alvarez's landed punches are body shots.  (CompuBox avg.: 24.2%)

Prediction

If this fight were taking place in Canada (where Kovalev has fought three times) and if he were fighting the more cerebral Kovalev who tried to match brain cell for brain cell with Andre Ward under John David Jackson, Alvarez might have been able to finagle his way to a close victory in a slow-paced thinking-man's fight. Unfortunately for Kovalev, this fight is taking place in a revitalized Atlantic City (close to the headquarters of Main Events) and he'll be facing a revitalized Kovalev who wants nothing more than to crush whatever stands in his path. On this night, a ring-rusty Alvarez will be standing in his path and Hurricane Sergey will score yet another convincing KO victory.