I am not a boxing expert, just a dedicated fight junkie who has followed the sport for over 20 years. My experience goes back to the early 80s super-fights featuring Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran to the present day mega-fights featuring Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.
Based on this knowledge, I have identified seven key factors that typically determine the outcome of championship-level boxing matches. If you like to bet on boxing or simply want boxing predictions "props" from your friends, keep these factors in mind before the next big fight.
If you have passed your mid-terms and term paper during a semester in school, you will be well-prepared for the final exam. Big fights in boxing are no different than a scholastic final – the fighter who has faced and beaten stiffer competition generally has an advantage when he meets a fighter with less big-fight experience.
Cars that are better on gas tend to last longer, and fighters are no different. Barring an early knockout, you must play close attention to a fighter’s pre-fight training routine – did he have any "outside" distractions like filming a movie at the time or, even worse, did he start his training camp late due to illness, injury or simply overlooking his opponent? You must also keep an eye on a fighter’s stamina "track record" in prior fights. If a fighter comes up short in this area, it’s a safe bet that his odds of winning decrease significantly the longer the fight lasts.
"A good defense beats a good offense." Whoever came up with this sports cliche knew what they were talking about. From baseball and basketball to football and boxing, the ability to prevent your opponent from scoring is the best way to manage the game on your own terms. By avoiding an opponents’ punches, punching lanes are opened for the defensive fighter to drive their fists through. A good defense also causes an opponent to tire mentally and physically, due to the missed punches and the punishment received by way of counter-punches thrown by the defensive-minded fighter. In the best case scenario the defensively-challenged fighter often walks away with a decision loss; at worst, they won’t finish the fight on their feet.
Prize-fighting is not a track meet but being able to move well and avoid punches is an asset nonetheless. Great footwork allows a boxer to avoid punches while easily returning to a position to return punches of their own. However, too much of anything (even good footwork) can work against you. If you want to know what I mean, just re-visit Oscar De La Hoya’s mega-fight loss to Felix "Tito" Trinidad, in which he literally "ran away from victory" in the final rounds. We must not forget that fight fans and judges alike did not come to see an episode of Dancing with the Stars – so keep an eye on whether a fighter moves too much for their own good before predicting a winner!
Speed kills, speed kills, speed kills. This factor is the most important when predicting the outcome of a fight. Why? Simply put, the faster fighter can hit their opponent more times than their opponent can hit them. Hand speed also has the additional benefit of generating punching power, even for a boxer who is physically weaker than their opponent. From Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali to Roy Jones and "Pretty Boy" Floyd Mayweather, hand speed is the key to the ultimate in ring achievement.
In an ideal world, the location of the fight should not matter. All rings are typically the same size and most of the judges are handpicked from a global pool. However, like any sport, boxing is not exempt from the "homefield advantage." With this advantage, the supportive atmosphere (i.e. crowd approval) for the hometown fighter combined with the negative atmosphere (i.e. crowd disapproval) for the visiting fighter, tends to sway the perception of who’s winning the fight in the judges’ eyes. Humans are social beings, and the last time I checked, boxing judges are human – influenced not only by what they are seeing, but oftentimes, what they are hearing (from the crowd). This factor undoubtedly favors the fighter fighting closest to home.
Undoubtedly the most subjective of all the factors listed above, this attribute can not be ignored. Wikipedia defines ring generalship one way. I define it this way: one fighter’s ability to impose his fighting style on his opponent. If the brawler forces the brawl, the advantage goes his way. If the boxer forces a more tactical, defensive battle, the advantage goes his way. Simply trend the way in which both combatants major fights went, style-wise, and it will give you a hint as to who is more inclined to impose his style when they meet in the ring.
So there you have it, my seven key factors to success in predicting boxing results. If you follow these basic rules, you should be able to make boxing predictions with confidence. And always remember, speed kills.
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