PUNCHER vs BOXER
THE ‘puncher vs boxer’ question came up again while watching the Conor Benn-Jussi Koivula fight this past Friday (June 21). Koivula looked to be the more proficient boxer but got careless (or underestimated Benn’s power) and then got clipped in the second round, which completely changed the fight. Had Benn not had one-punch power, I think he would’ve probably been taken the distance. This made me think in general about who would come out on top in the ‘puncher vs boxer’ debate. I realise this is an emotive subject for boxing fans, but here is my take: Using the heavyweights as an example, we have three types of elite fighters in the mix – punchers (eg. Deontay Wilder), boxers (eg. Tyson Fury) and boxer-punchers (eg. Anthony Joshua). My initial thought was that Wilder would come out on top maybe seven out of 10 times, even though he’s probably the worst technically. Ergo, an OK boxer with elite power would win. However, this is where things get complicated! Can a boxer increase his power to elite level? Fury, in his last bout against Tom Schwarz, was obviously trying things out to improve his power and it did seem to work. Imagine a Fury who is both elite boxer and elite puncher – he would be pretty much untouchable. But can he really produce elite power? Similarly, can Joshua improve as a boxer to match his punch-power? Has Andy Ruiz Jnr really got the elite power to match his skills? Joseph Parker is another who seems to have been using fights against lesser opposition to work on his power, so I think he could also be right back in the mix. Will Oleksandr Usyk have the power at heavyweight to match his skills? I think unless you are lucky enough to be both an elite boxer and an elite puncher, then for me a puncher would come out on top the majority of the time, even though I’d prefer it to be the other way round. However, I also believe that there is more chance of improving your punch-power than boxing skills, although you can never match a natural power such as Wilder’s. It’s certainly an interesting dynamic to consider when watching a fight and also a fighter’s progression. Tim Skilton
TIME FOR TECHNOLOGY?
I HAVE been a boxing fan for a few years and I’m afraid to say that I’m still terrible at scoring fights. However, it seems that everybody else is, too. I’ve lost count of the number of fights I’ve watched where the commentators and pundits are adamant that the fight has gone one way, only for the judges to score it completely differently. If everyone is using the same criteria, why does this keep happening? I think it’s because scoring a fight is subjective and this, coupled with the fact that there are many constantly changing variables happening very quickly, makes it difficult to accurately make a judgement. I wonder if it’s time to utilise modern technology to get a definitive score. It would be fairly easy to use camera recognition systems to determine if a punch has landed, which fighter is in the centre of the ring or if a punch has been dodged. But I wonder if this would take something away from the sport? Richard Flanagan
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