Boxing’s March Madness: Sor Rungvisai Stuns Gonzalez and Twitter Isn’t #Happy
By Paul “Paparazzi” Jones: Rarely are boxing fans treated to a fight of the year and upset of the year candidate with a controversial ending on the same night, let alone in the same fight. This kind of ‘March Madness’ is often reserved for upsets by a Cinderella team who runs deep into the NCAA basketball tournament. However, a controversial upset is exactly what fans witnessed when Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (42-4-1, 38 KOs) claimed the WBC super flyweight championship by outpointing previously unbeaten, #1 pound-for-pound fighter Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (46-1, 38 KOs) on Saturday night.
Although Sor Rungvisai put forth a gallant effort, it was the final scorecards — namely those of judges Glenn Feldman and Julie Lederman who scored the bout in favor of Sor Rungvisai (114 – 112) — that puzzled many fans in attendance and in cyberspace. (For the record, I scored the bout 114 – 112 for Gonzalez.)
Despite suffering an early knockdown and a nasty cut due to an accidental headbutt, Gonzalez dominated the middle rounds and held his own down the stretch. Chocolatito also appeared to land heavier blows than did Sor Rungvisai in many of the bout’s heated exchanges.
CompuBox numbers support this account. For instance, though Sor Rungvisai had plenty of signature moments in the fight, Punchstats credited Gonzalez with landing 372 of his power shots – an all-time record for the division according to HBO’s Jim Lampley.
More important, Gonzalez was the busier and more efficient fighter. In fact, Gonzalez out landed Sor Rungvisai in nine of 12 rounds, while maintaining a 20-point edge in power shots (56% vs. 36% landed, respectively).
Equally compelling, despite taking on the role of aggressor for most of the fight, Gonzalez managed to make Sor Rungvisai miss on 70% of his punches.
When taken together, these data help to explain the controversy surrounding the judges’ decision. And while boos were audible throughout Madison Square Garden as the final scorecards were read, a firestorm of discontent was engulfing Twitter under the hashtag #ChocolatitoRungvisai:
“Sitting next to Hall of Fame referee Joe Cortez in media section and he had #chocolatito ahead by wide margin, I agree #ChocolatitoRungvisai”
-Bobby Cassidy (@casswriter44), Newsday.com videographer
“Wow. I do not agree with that decision. I thought Gonzalez flat outworked Sor Rungvisai in too many rounds. #boxing #ChocolatitoRungvisai”
-Douglass Fischer (@dougiefischer), RingTV.com Editor
“That decision ruined such a great fight #ChocolatitoRungvisai #GGGJacobs”
“I’m going through the hashtag #ChocolatitoRungvisai trying to find anyone saying #Rungvisai won. So far, no results.”
-Yusti Salas (@yustisalas)
“How do you give that fight to Rungvisai?!? #HBOPPV #HBOPPV #GGGJacobs #ChocolatitoRungvisai”
And perhaps no #ChocolatitoRungvisai post was more scathing than this one from angelo (@dusty9oh9):
— angelo (@dusty9oh9) March 19, 2017
Albeit nonscientific, ESPN Boxing’s Twitter poll showed that 70% of the 1,128 respondents also disagreed with the outcome.
Of course, fight metrics, twitter posts, and social media polls represent three different ways of trying to make sense of Sor Rungvisai’s unpopular victory over Gonzalez.
However, when three different approaches converge on a similar conclusion, it begs the question of whether Sor Rungvisai’s win was more symbolic of a No. 8-seed upsetting a No. 1 seed during March Madness or poor judging that placed the glass slipper on the foot of an undeserving Cinderella. ■
Contact “Paparazzi” Jones: firstname.lastname@example.org│Twitter@boxingepicenter
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