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Will Punchforce save boxing?

There’s been a lot of consternation and hand wringing in the boxing scene since Manny Pacquiao lost a bullsh*t decision to Timothy Bradley a few weeks ago. Everyone but the people at the NSAC responsible for the screw up thought it was an outrageously bad moment for boxing, and just the latest black eye caused by incompetent judging. So with that as your backdrop, you might understand why some are getting pretty excited about the possibility of a gizmo dubbed Punchforce. Via the Wall Street Journal:

The device is shaped like a piece of Bazooka bubble gum. It weighs in at 7.9 grams and belongs to HBO, the heavyweight among boxing broadcasters.

This technology, called PunchForce, is designed to measure the speed and force of a boxer’s punches and transmit that information instantaneously to viewers of HBO broadcasts. But its real potential is far broader: If it works, it could help this struggling sport fix one of its most nagging flaws.

Like instant replay in baseball, the system would offer perspective about what actually took place between contestants, enhancing the ability of viewers to judge the judges. To many in boxing, the potential value of such punch analysis was underscored by the controversial June 9 bout between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley, which Bradley won in a split decision despite a widespread perception that Pacquiao had prevailed.

The device isn’t perfectly accurate. Nathan Langholz, a UCLA Ph.D. candidate in statistics, studied PunchForce as a consultant to HBO. His work concluded that the technology had an accuracy rate of 80.5% when it came to force and 86.5% when it came to speed.

That may not sound bulletproof. But that’s “more accurate than most speedometers in people’s cars and more accurate than a lot of the technology we take for granted every day,” said Edis.

Although approved for use in Nevada, PunchForce still must get the OK in other states where HBO might want to use it. Moreover, boxers would need to agree to wear the sensor on their wrists, according to the minutes of a Nevada boxing-commission meeting from 2010.

It’d be cool to get something like this in MMA, especially with all the recent attention being paid to stats like FightMetric. I dig what these guys are trying to do but think there are flaws in the concept of ‘significant strikes’, which include ‘all strikes at distance’ regardless of if it’s a grazing jab or a Dan Henderson H-bomb.

I doubt it will actually fix anything with judging. The problem we have there isn’t caused by a lack of gizmos or problems with the scoring criteria. It’s caused by sh*tty judges who are never officially criticized, let alone fired for doing terrible jobs. Check out the judges for the Pacquaio / Bradley fight: two of them were over 70 years old. Not to be all agist or anything but people older than 60 should be ground up into soylent green and fed to third world children.

  • Reverend Clint

    all the tech in the world cant help stupid or old

  • mobius

    would be interesting to see the long term changes in speed

  • iamphoenix

    how about we just watch the fight instead of looking at numbers.

  • kwagnuth

    Maybe if mma had this now Guida would have won against Maynard cus you can’t argue with numbers right. Like Guida was faster and landed more punches didn’t he? Not to mention the footwork and head movement.


  • kwagnuth

    I know Maynard landed more powerfull shots though. But doesn’t speed get more points than power. Also did Maynard have a higher % of power than Guida did speed?

  • Reverend Clint

    maynard threw less and still landed more shots after the 1st round

  • raizor

    This doesn’t take into account accuracy of strikes, which makes it pretty useless IMO. A hard punch to the jaw or temple is far more significant in real terms than the same blow hitting the brow. Can’t see how this would help differentiate between full-on strikes and glancing blows either. Sounds like a load of crap to me :)

  • matthewpolly

    Now you can not only break a hand in a fight you can break a chip! It’ll be entertaining to watch for about two fights and then everyone will go back to ignoring boxing when the 3 stars left in the sport aren’t fighting. Combat sports have always, except on rare occasions, been second class sports in America and now boxing is the second class combat sport to MMA. No amount of tech gimmickry will change its decline into irrelevance.

  • ButtHorn

    I almost peepee stained my drawers worrying aboot boxing…

    (I did anyway.)

  • Reverend Clint

    what if you are Fujita and hard contact with your skull has no effect on you? How do you score that?

  • Blackula Jonez


  • Boxing Gloves

    Boxing can be a very great learning experience.