Pacquiao Watch: Do numbers lie?

Edwin G. Espejo

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Pacquiao Watch: Do numbers lie?
Columnist Edwin Espejo takes a look at the punch stats in anticipation of Pacquiao vs Mayweather

ESPN’s Al Bernstein said Manny Pacquiao has to throw at least 800 punches over the course of the fight to have a chance at beating Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Did Bernstein do the math on Pacquiao’s work rate over the last 6 years to ring an alarm?

Statistically, Bernstein is partly right.

Pacquiao does not just overwhelm his opponent with sheer volume of punches; he also unleashes them with deadly power and uncanny accuracy.

But wait.

Is Pacquiao still the energy bunny that throws punches non-stop over 12 rounds?

READ MORE: Pacquiao vs Mayweather

A look at the punch statistics of Pacquiao compiled from Boxingscene’s Compubox results of his fights reveal the Filipino spitfire has dramatically slowed down over the last 4 years.

Since shaming Shane Mosley over 12 rounds in 2011, Pacquiao’s punch volume dramatically went down against the likes of Juan Manuel Marquez, Timothy Bradley, Brandon Rios and Chris Algieri.

Compared to the league of Oscar de la Hoya, Miguel Angel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Mosely and even Joshua Clottey, Pacquiao was only ‘average’ against Marquez and company.

His volume of punches against the small welterweights went down by 35%. From a voluminous 879 per bout or 78 punches per round, Pacquiao only unleashed 650 punches per fight.

The average punches per round he uncorked against Marquez and company – at 54 – is also down and already a shade under the average of 60 punches per round by welterweights.

It is well below the average 78 punches he threw against de la Hoya and company, when many believed Pacquiao was at his peak.

In the power punch department, his work rate is also down both in the number of thrown and landed.

However, it can be argued that his accuracy and high-octane offense were also affected by the competition.

In Bradley and Algieri, Manny found opponents unwilling to mix it up. Of course, Marquez was always a difficult fight for Pacquiao. When he fought Rios, he was very cautious coming from a massive KO loss to Marquez.

Pacquiao performs well against bigger and taller opponents. It is against them that he loves to unload and let go of his massive offensive arsenal.

Against a ‘shot’ de la Hoya and a ‘plodding’ Margarito, he was at his most accurate, landing an average of 26 and 34 power punches respectively every round at an accuracy level of over 50%.

He was a punching machine against Clottey, throwing an average of 103 punches per round or a total of 1,231 for the bout. The other time he went over the thousand punch mark was against Margarito when he exploded for 1,069 punches.

In a string of 9 fights since stopping Cotto in 2009, the Filipino boxing superstar has never recorded a KO win and was knocked out cold by Marquez in 2012.

If there is any consolation, Mayweather has also slowed down although not as dramatically as Pacquiao.

In his last 8 fights beginning with his unanimous decision win over Juan Manuel Marquez, Mayweather threw an average of at least 512 punches each fight or 42 in every round.

But in the last four of those fights – against Guerrero, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and twice against Marcos Maidana – Mayweather’s punch rate over 12 rounds was down by 28% or just 36 per round.

So if Pacquiao can unload between 650 to 800 punches and land at least 35 percent of them, he should be good, as Bernstein opined.

But how good? Nobody really can tell until the bell rings.

The flipside of Bernstein’s observation however is that Mayweather will also have to step up to prevent Pacquiao from dictating the tempo of the fight and allow the Filipino boxing icon to dish the kind of numbers that he is used to.

Should Mayweather fail to do that, even a 650-punch night could already make the evening interesting for Pacquiao. –

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