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#1
Old 06-26-2012, 01:44 PM
fceeviper
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Default HBO's Punch Force

Say Goodbye to Boxing Judges
HBO's New Punch-Analysis Gizmo Earns Raves in Trials; Could It Prevent Blown Decisions?


By TONY OLIVERO

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.

Then again, the unofficial scoring provided by PunchForce might support official outcomes. "There are probably some fights where if people had those figures there would have been less disagreeing with the judges," said Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Either way, the device could give boxing a second wind at a time when fight fans increasingly are turning to mixed martial arts, or MMA, a form of combat that more often ends with decisive knockouts. Indeed, the state athletic commission in Nevada—boxing's home state—already has approved the use of PunchForce.

"From the fan perspective and the fighter perspective, I am all for it," said Kizer.

Yet like a fighter who's late to the ring, the technology has yet to launch. Never mind that the Federal Communications Commission granted approval to PunchForce in February, essentially ruling that it wouldn't interfere with other transmissions. It remained on the sidelines for the Pacquiao-Bradley match, and isn't expected to play a role in any imminent bout.

Precisely why isn't clear: PunchForce is a closely guarded secret at HBO. Michael Paschke, HBO senior software engineer, wouldn't comment beyond saying that PunchForce is "ready to go," having been tested on "hundreds of fights." An HBO spokesman said it was premature to discuss the technology.

But a person familiar with the project said HBO is planning a high-profile launch in January. The source said that the launch will be part of a "rebooting of the HBO boxing franchise."

In 2011, HBO had 23 boxing telecasts, with the five biggest fights available only on HBO pay-per-view, at prices as high as $60. But fight-loving viewers have been gravitating toward MMA fights, put on by companies including Ultimate Fighting Championship. Since 2006, the number of households paying to watch UFC fights has exceeded 700,000 at least 17 times, compared with 13 times for HBO's pay-per-view boxing matches.

About five years in the making, PunchForce required HBO to confront challenges involving battery life and ringside wireless connectivity. A document that the network filed with the FCC says that data from sensors on boxers' wrists "is simultaneously stored in a database for use via online applications as well as sent to a broadcast truck to be rendered into graphics for on-air viewing." The device does not tabulate whether punches were landed or not.

HBO has no doubt about its value to viewers, said its inventor, Jamyn Edis, a research-and-development executive at HBO before leaving this spring. "You just have to look at the blogs (to see that) there is a lot of argument about judging bias and refereeing bias," said Edis, now a new-media professor at New York University. But "numbers don't lie, and people having access to that data in real time, that can shine a light on the sport."

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.

As a paid viewer of the Pacquiao-Bradley fight, Steven Harris would have welcomed some objective interpretation of the action—which to his eyes favored the title-holding Pacquiao. Who knows, he said, Punch Force could even prompt him to watch a greater number of pay-per-view fights—especially if judges "have a chance to view the technology," said Harris, a school custodian in Kansas City, Kan., arguing that no champion should lose his belt "without convincing evidence."

But just as baseball remains opposed to instant replay—outside reviewing home runs—boxing officials have no plans to incorporate PunchForce into the judging process.

"It would really have to get field-tested," said Greg Sirb, executive director of the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission. Could he foresee the judging of boxing trending toward technology and away from humans? "Nope," he said.
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#2
Old 06-26-2012, 01:51 PM
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That is pretty fuckin bad ass, great new technology to add to boxing. ...well, to HBO broadcasts. At the very least it should discourage Lampley from making ridiculous "bang, Bang!, BANG!" comments.

Will be nice to start comparing the punch force and speed of various fighters. Hope this roll this out soon.

Last edited by p4p-champ; 06-26-2012 at 01:54 PM.
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#3
Old 06-26-2012, 01:56 PM
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Interesting, but to suggest that something like this should have a role in scoring fights is ludicrous.

A punch from one fighter might have 100 units of force, and barely bother a fighter with a good chin. Yet a punch with 50 units of force may leave a glass-jawed fighter stunned and staggered.
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#4
Old 06-26-2012, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by SBleeder View Post
Interesting, but to suggest that something like this should have a role in scoring fights is ludicrous.

A punch from one fighter might have 100 units of force, and barely bother a fighter with a good chin. Yet a punch with 50 units of force may leave a glass-jawed fighter stunned and staggered.
Yeah, I don't see it playing any part in officially judging a fight. I think it'll be more for a fan perspective. Much like the compubox stats.
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#5
Old 06-26-2012, 01:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SBleeder View Post
Interesting, but to suggest that something like this should have a role in scoring fights is ludicrous.

A punch from one fighter might have 100 units of force, and barely bother a fighter with a good chin. Yet a punch with 50 units of force may leave a glass-jawed fighter stunned and staggered.
good point
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#6
Old 06-26-2012, 02:01 PM
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HBO likes to tamper and inflate compubox numbers for the fighter they're backing, Marquez-pacquiao 3 for example. The possible problem I see here is they'll also manipulate punch force stats to justify some of their bullsh1t
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#7
Old 06-26-2012, 02:02 PM
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Very interesting tool but is it gonna be able to measure the speed of each punch in a quick flurry? Do they place a sensor on the knuckle area also? And this could lead commentators to rave about a fighter's speed and power even though he ain't landing shit.
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#8
Old 06-26-2012, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Light_Speed View Post
Very interesting tool but is it gonna be able to measure the speed of each punch in a quick flurry? Do they place a sensor on the knuckle area also? And this could lead commentators to rave about a fighter's speed and power even though he ain't landing shit.
exactly lampley now has numbers to use whenever he gets excited about punches that don't even land
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#9
Old 06-26-2012, 02:06 PM
fceeviper
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Originally Posted by GrandpaBernard View Post
HBO likes to tamper and inflate compubox numbers for the fighter they're backing, Marquez-pacquiao 3 for example. The possible problem I see here is they'll also manipulate punch force stats to justify some of their bullsh1t
Agreed.

It's likely HBO will use their new technology to assist their bias agenda down the road.
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#10
Old 06-26-2012, 08:04 PM
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So how does Punch Force account for punches to the arms, shoulders and ones that hit gloves? None of these really are taken into account? As someone else mentioned, some fighters take better shots than others as well.

Also why would anyone gravitate towards MMA? If bad decisions sometimes make you move from boxing to MMA, well then you are not a boxing fan. The only reason MMA ends in more knockouts is because only 5% of MMA fighters can actually take more than one flush punch. Watch any UFC and see. Most are wrestlers and jiu jitsu guys, so that is why. Also who on earth wants to watch all that leaning on the cage holding and grappling and rolling around all over the mat like 8 yr olds fighting. I just don't get the fascination with MMA at all. People who watch MMA are the same people you find at local Toughman contests and professional wrestling shows. The only reason there is more viewership to MMA matches is because 1-they cost less and 2-they are on EVERY ****ING WEEKEND! Also MMA is more of a white adolescent/young adult demographic sport. Boxing (like soccer) is an ethnic sport. The UFC is so popular because 65% of the country is white and 90% of the people that watch MMA are white male 18-30 year olds. I am white by the way and I cant stand the UFC. What are we at now, UFC #38290283747?? Christ who can keep up with that garbage lol. Boxing has been around for 3000 years and it is not going anywhere.
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