Hellraiser Boxing - The Hellraiser Weekender: Steve Fearon looks at his predictions for the WBSS Cruiserweightsm, examining the pros and cons of calling a fight.
Hellraiser Boxing News | The Hellraiser Weekender: The Perils of Prediction
The Hellraiser Weekender: Steve Fearon looks at his predictions for the WBSS Cruiserweightsm, examining the pros and cons of calling a fight.

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The Hellraiser Weekender: The Perils of Prediction

by Steve Fearon

Way back in the murky past, around August last year, I did a very silly thing.

I wrote a prediction of the Cruiserweight World Boxing Super Series, based on each of the respective fighter’s records.

Now, we are a long way into the tournament, and I thought it might be fun to see where I got it right, and where I got it horribly, horribly wrong.

The Quarter Finals

Usyk v Huck

It all started so well…The first fight I looked at was Usyk v Huck, and I went for the Usyk win…

“I suspect Usyk will dominate this fight, with crisper work, and win a clear UD, but I really wouldn’t be surprised to see him get the stoppage if Huck doesn’t bring his best”

This wasn’t hard to predict though, given recent events with Huck, and Usyk’s record, though there were still a few questions about Usyk’s relative ability, as he hadn’t faced many top level guys yet.

Usyk was always going to be the safe bet, given that his previous opponents had both the highest average win% AND were all fighters with a winning record (Super, super rare).

So an easy win, happy with that, 1 from 1, what could go wrong?

Briedis v Perez

So, then we come to the highly rated Briedis, against the enigmatic Mike Perez.

I correctly anticipated that Briedis would be the superior fighter, though I caveat-ed that several times due to the unknown nature of what Perez might bring to Cruiserweight…

“My prediction is that Briedis will win this fight by stoppage, but this is based on the fact that I expect Perez to have suffered somewhat dropping so much weight, and that he may not be used to the speed that Briedis can bring”

So I expected a stoppage, which we didn’t get, but got the result, so that is something.

However, let’s examine why I thought Briedis might stop Perez:

  1. Briedis had stopped 82% of opponents at that time
  2. Perez had been stopped previously
  3. Perez’ power was questionable at heavyweight, and there was a danger he wouldn’t be able to hurt Briedis, to keep him away
  4. The drop in weight may have had some impact on Perez’ conditioning that could lead to him being found out in a high level fight

I think on reflection, that most of these facts hold true, though perhaps I underestimated Perez’ resolve and punch resistance.

Either way, there were a lot of unknowns about Perez at Cruiserweight, so I am happy to give myself a partial pass on that one.

But there were bigger mistakes to come.

Gassiev v Wlodarczyk

Ok. This is where it starts to go wrong.

Wlodarczyk had only 3 defeats from 57 fights, and only one defeat in the last 10 years!

He was aging, true, but had also been fighting regularly and beating younger opponents on points in recent years, and he was facing the relative youngster Gassiev, who hadn’t fought many of real quality, other than his win over the admittedly formidable Lebedev…

“This quarter final may go the distance, as neither fighter has ever been stopped, and if Lebedev was unable to stop Gassiev, I am dubious as to whether Wlodarczyk can. This leaves me with two likely scenarios, “Gassiev outworks, and overpowers Wlodarczyk”, perhaps stopping him through volume of punches, or the “wily veteran uses guile and experience to frustrate and outbox the young Russian”.

Of these two scenarios, I think I would have to edge to Wlodarczyk, purely based on his record, and the fact that his last two fights were against strong, younger fighters, where he was just able to squeak out a points win, suggesting that he can use his skill and experience to mitigate the strength, energy and determination of younger fighters”

Now in my defence, I did throw in a pathetic attempt at mitigation…

“This prediction assumes that his ability hasn’t degraded to a point where his punch resistance is affected, as if it has, Gassiev will likely be the first to stop the veteran, and progress to the semi-finals”

However, my prediction was still a Wlodarczyk points win, and instead Gassiev landed a left body shot that was felt by the rover on Mars.

Gassiev, being the newer fighter, had less data to go on when analysing the records, but his previous opponents, Lebedev aside, were not of an inspiring level, so the explosiveness he displayed against Wlodarczyk was a genuine surprise.

Let’s move on to the next one!

 Dorticos vs Kudryashov

Dorticos v Kudryashov

This one hurts.

Again, I made the mistake with putting too much weight on the data, and not enough on the risk element of an untested fighter…

“I think I am going to stick my neck out, and go with Kudryashov, as I fell Dorticos’ record has a flimsy feel to it, whereas I think we can trust Kudryashov’s as a decent reflection of where he is.

I will go with Kudryashov by Stoppage, being the man to take Dorticos’ ‘0’ and the first to stop him”

Dimitry…

Dorticos showed that despite a weaker record in terms of previous opponents, he had something extra in the locker that the records didn’t show. 

This is by far the biggest upset in terms of the records so far, as even though on the face it of it their records were close and Kudryashov had lost once before.

  1. Kudryashov had won only by KO
  2. Kudryashov had won against more fighters with a winning record
  3. Kudryashov had faced opponents that averaged more than 10% higher than Dorticos’ in win %

However, historical records do not prove future potential, and I was exposed painfully in this 2nd round stoppage.

The first Semi Final – Briedis v Usyk

I am pleased that I was able to predict this semi final correctly, though it could be argued that 75% of boxing fans could have called this one.

In my prediction for this fictional outcome, I said the following:

“I honestly think this will be an incredibly tight matchup, probably a bit cagey, and a bit technical, as both fighters carry power, and both can box.

I edge to Usyk, because he is a Southpaw, he is nominally fresher than Briedis, and will perhaps be able to use his amateur knowledge and style to out box Briedis tactically”

I feel that is actually a pretty fair reflection of the result, though it was on a knife edge in the fight itself, so I am pretty happy with that prediction.

Gassiev vs Dorticos

The Second Semi Final – Dorticos v Gassiev

So this one is the exact opposite of my prediction, in terms of the fighters present, so I suppose it is only fair that I re-evaluate what I think will happen!

I think it is likely this one ends within the distance, and both have a fairly similar record of opponents in terms of win% etc so there isn’t much to split them there.

Dorticos has much the higher KO% and edges Gassiev in the % of opponents faced with a winning record, so there is reason to edge to him, though Gassiev’s relative youth, and the ‘potential’ factor have to be considered too.

Given that I failed twice in my analysis to accommodate the ‘potential’ of the younger fighter, and given that the stats between them are so close, I am actually going to go for a Gassiev stoppage.

There, I said it.         

The End Result

That would then give us a Usyk v Gassiev final, where I would expect to see Usyk dominate with his superior skills, movement and experience over the slightly predictable come forward approach of Gassiev.

So I still maintain Usyk is my pick to win it, on a wide UD over Gassiev in the final, making him rightfully the kind of Cruiserweights, possibly right before he decides to move up to Heavyweight!

Conclusion

As an analyst by trade, as well as hobby, I know all too well the folly of making forecasts and predictions with a shallow or restricted pool of data, and as previously mentioned in other articles, boxing makes it extremely difficult to get your hands on any non-record data, i.e. punch output, movement etc.

However, as a boxing fan I love the speculation, the banter and the back-and-forth of being called out for bad picks etc, and for me it is like putting money on a fight, it adds human interest for me to a contest when I have publically called the result, and so long as other people enjoy telling me I am an idiot, I shall likely keep doing it!

Until next time…

Posted: 2nd Feb 2018

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