On Bradley vs Márquez, numbers, perceptions and the Devil's advocate

Hello everyone! Having enjoyed the discussions about heavyweight boxing and the Klitschkos, and the ones regarding García vs Matthysse and Mayweather vs Canelo, I'm back for more. Relentless despite getting owned by the 99% of people that didn't agree with me in any of those subjects, I'll try with another one, because I don't mind not being part of that 99%.

I'm not writing this in hopes that it turns into an argument about who won the fight, if Márquez deserved it, or Bradley won fairly. People, judges and pundits have all agreed with Bradley being the winner. I, myself, thought Márquez should have won the fight, but as I said in some other comments, I don't even score the fights when I watch them and when I say stuff like that I normally base it on overall feelings. As such, I won't defend my views very strongly against dozens of people that actually scored the fight, and know 100 times more about boxing than me.

Instead of that, I will stick to perceptions, numbers, and facts. My goal is not to try to convince anyone that the fight should have been scored differently. I aim to make some people think about Bradley´s performance. Was it as good as some people claim? How do the numbers from that fight compare to the numbers from both fighters careers? Could Bradley's actions have influenced people's views on the fight in a way they shouldn't have? Let's start.

First of all, the disclaimers. I'm going to use Compubox stats for this. I know Compubox stats don't tell the whole story. Sometimes, they can give a somewhat accurate description of how the fight went. Most of the time, on the other hand, you need to know more in order to get a true picture of what happened. This is not to say Compubox stats are totally useless, I think treating them as useless is as wrong as treating them as definite proof of anything. I'll just post the numbers, write what I take away from them and let people decide if they have any meaning at all to them regarding the way the fight went in their minds.

Secondly, circumstances change. Bradley is, for example, stepping up in competition from what he fought some years ago. Thus, even when his stats doesn't show an improvement, his competition getting harder makes it so keeping the numbers as they were before actually means an improvement. If he can keep the numbers consistent against better competition, that's an improvement. The magnitude of the improvement is proportional to the difference in level between his rivals in different eras.

Now, let's start with my hypothesis. I think Bradley fought and acted in a way that made many people get the notion that he was performing at a higher level than he actually was. I'd add that Márquez doing the opposite in many instances caused his performance to be viewed as worse than it actually was, in the eyes of many. To say it in a different way, it was a very close fight, Márquez performed better than people credit him, and Tim did worse. The reason for this, is his behaviour in certain aspects during the fight.

These are the numbers I am going to use:

Compubox Stats for Bradley vs Márquez

Márquez stats:

Punches thrown/landed 455/153

Connect rate 34%

Bradley stats:

Punches thrown/landed 562/168

Connect rate 30%

Compubox career averages for Márquez

Punches thrown/landed 636/204

Career connect rate 33%

Opponents connect rate against Márquez 33%

Compubox career averages for Bradley

Punches thrown/landed 720/228

Career connect rate 31%

Oppenents connect rate against Bradley 27%

Now let's see how those numbers compare to the perceptions people have about the fight. Some of the things almost everyone rate in Bradley's favour are defense, ring generalship, effective aggression. Many people argue that Bradley negated Márquez offense, rendering him unable to hit him while hitting Márquez at will during most of the fight. The reasons for that, as people suggest, is that Bradley's footwork allowed him to run circles around Juan, making it difficult for him to get to Bradley and at the same time keeping Bradley in spots in which he could bang Márquez without leaving him the option to retaliate, much like slick boxers try to accomplish normally.

Well, do the numbers agree with the notion that Bradley frustrated Márquez and didn't allow him to get to Tim, while letting him do the opposite? So first, let's see how those numbers compare to their respective career averages.

When we do the math, we see that, indeed, Márquez was able to throw a quite lesser number of punches than he does on average. He threw only 71,5% of the punches he throws in his fights, on average. That clearly points to him having problems to get to Bradley. He knew he had to be aggressive, so a 28.5% drop on punches thrown has to mean he didn't find the way to attack Tim more, since, had he found it he would have done so.

What about Tim? Well, Tim threw 75% of the punches he normally does. It seems not only Juan had serious problems to get himself in a position to throw, but Tim had them too (in a lesser grade). That goes strongly about the notion that Tim perfectly controlled the distance and dictated the pace of the match in a way that was much favourable to him.

Of course, thrown punches only tell a part of the story. Let's see how their connect rates compare to their average, reference performance. Márquez connected with 78% of the punches he normally connects with. Bradley connected with 73.7%, compared to his average. We get a strong indication here that Tim's defense and precision don't fare as good as people claim against Juan's, since Juan connected a 78% of the punches he normally connects.

We can see, then, that while both men were able to make it so his opponent wasn't as comfortable as normally throwing punches (with Bradley having slightly more success at it), it was Márquez the one which made Bradley connect with a lesser percentage of punches than he normally does, and with a larger margin. That goes very strongly against the notion that Tim's defense was that much better than Márquez defense. And Márquez is not regarded as a fighter with a tight defense.

Now, let's analyze the idea that Márquez wasn't comfortable, or he wasn't the Juan Manuel Márquez we know, while Tim performed at his best. We can see that Tim landed 30% of his punches on Juan. That's 3% less than the average fighter when fighting against Márquez. It seems not only Tim didn't land on Márquez at will. In fact, he landed less than he normally lands, and less than what the rest of Juan's rivals have landed, on average.

On the other hand, Márquez landed 34% of his punches on Tim. That's 1% more than Juan normally lands on his rivals, and 7% more than what rivals normally land on Tim. Bradley landed 30% against Márquez, whose rivals land 33% on him, average.

Put into words, and be it for different reasons, the truth is Márquez landed more often on Bradley than he has landed on average through his career, while also landing much more than Tim's previous rivals have landed on him. At the same time, Tim managed to catch Márquez less than he normally landed against other rivals, and less than what previous Márquez rivals have achieved, also on average.

What do this all mean? Well, for sure it doesn't mean Márquez should have won the fight, and I'm fine agreeing with Bradley's win. But you could see how he reacted when hit. He didn't lose a second to show the audience and the judges how he wasn't hurt. At the same time he got cocky when he landed on Márquez. Juan didn't do any of that. Bradley acted at the end of every round like it was a clear round for him, even if it wasn't, Marquez didn't do the same. Bradley answered the final bell running up on top of the corner to make everyone know he had won, while Márquez didn't. How he moved, his gestures, his postures, him dropping the guard, smiling, the way he walked. I think those were all calculated moves, and they achieved their goal.

I think Compubox numbers, while not an indication that the result of the fight should have been different, hint on the direction that people bit Tim's tricks, and regard the fight as a fight not as closer as it actually was. For the same reasons, they treat Juan like he performed very badly, when in fact, his performance will improve his stats in almost all categories, meaning it was an above average effort. The opposite is true with Tim, and despite that people talk about a career-defining win and his best ever performance.

This is what I think and those are my reasons. As I said, my goal was only to show a way in which things can be analyzed, that doesn't quite agree with the prevailing opinion on the fight. I think most of Bradley's movement was only for the show. I didn't see Juan get frustrated, he cut on the ring and found Bradley there to be hit.

If Tim's ring generalship was as great as people claim, he would have improved his numbers for thrown punches while decreasing Juan's output. The reality is he actually managed to have Márquez throwing less, but at the cost of him throwing less also in almost the same proportion.

If Tim's defense was as good as people claim, he would have made it so Márquez connect rate was lower than normal. It was, in fact, higher.

If Tim's offense was as good as people claim, he would have made it so his connect rate was higher than normal. It was, in fact, lower.

To wrap things up, I'll write down an extreme example on how a fighter can use ring generalship to decrease his opponents output while improving his own. Also, it shows how to use your defense to negate your opponent's accuracy, and how to use your offense to improve your own.

Compubox stats for Mayweather vs Márquez

Mayweather stats:

Punches thrown/landed 493/290

Connect rate 59%

Márquez stats:

Punches thrown/landed 583/69

Connect rate 12%

Of course, Floyd vs Juan was one of the more one-sided beatings people have seen in years. And the reasons for that go much further than what numbers can suggest. Still, here we can actually see what happened. Floyd's footwork and ring generalship allowed him to maintain his thrown punches average, almost exactly, while greatly decreasing Márquez's output. Floyd's defense allowed him to completely destroy Juan's accuracy compared to what he normally does. Floyd's offense made it so he could connect on Márquez a 17% more than he does on average.

Compubox doesn't tell the whole story. You can't decipher how a fight went by reading the stats. But that is one thing. It's a different thing to believe that stats are so broken that you wouldn't find a trace of what actually happened in the fight by looking at them. That is not true. You can't make a fight in your mind just by watching at the numbers. But if you watch a fight, the numbers have to reflect at least some part of what actually happened. Since the numbers from Bradley vs Márquez doesn't tell the same story that the fans tell, then there has to be different reasons for them to actually think like that.

I have stated my opinion, now I would like to read yours, if anyone takes the time to actually read this infernal wall of text!!

<strong><font color="red">FanPosts are user-created content written by community members of Bad Left Hook, and are generally not the work of our editors. <em>Please do not source FanPosts as the work of Bad Left Hook</em>.</font></strong>

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