Commentary

The 'Boxing Predictor' predicts the Super Bowl winner

Bert Sugar knows who will win the Super Bowl. How, you ask? Easy: by studying boxing results.

Originally Published: February 3, 2008
By Bert Randolph Sugar | Boxing historian

Ruslan ChagaevTORSTEN SILZ/AFP/Getty ImagesWho knew Ruslan Chagaev, left, and Nikolai Valuev could help predict this year's Super Bowl winner?
To cop a line from comedian Jimmy Durante, it seems that when it comes to the Super Bowl, "Everyone's trying to get in on the act."

In the countdown to the Super Bowl, every product imaginable tries to tie its kite tail to the Super Bowl. Just watch television and you'll see wall-to-wall ads pushing their products as somehow, someway, somewhere related to the game itself -- snacks, soft drinks, TV sets, etc., etc., etc.; the et ceteras going on for five pages or more. You'd think some underarm deodorant would be advertising itself as being a "complete protection" for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Well, with all the hullabaloo going on about the Super Bowl, I thought it was time to tie boxing in to Super Bowl XLII. Not just some strained tie-in such as Too Tall Jones' having boxed and played in the Super Bowl. Or Joe Frazier's having defended his heavyweight title against Terry Daniels in New Orleans the night before Super Bowl VI (that's "six," if you failed your Latin).

No, I wanted to come up with something more concrete to tie boxing in with the Super Bowl, something to take into account boxing results as an indicator to predict the winner of this year's game. And so, going through all the tables available in Ring Record Books and online at sites such as CyberBoxing, I've come up with something I call "the Boxing Predictor."

Now, you must understand, the Boxing Predictor is no more scientific than, say, something called the Stock Market Predictor, which attempts to prophesy the direction of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in the coming year, holding that when one of the "original" NFL teams wins, the market goes up and that when one of the original 10 American Football League teams wins, the market goes down.

But if the Stock Market Predictor has an 81 percent success rate, then the Boxing Predictor sees it and raises it. Here's how the boxing predictor works: When the heavyweight title changes hands on a knockout in the year before the Super Bowl, the NFC wins; when there have been no knockouts in a heavyweight title fight changing hands the year before, the AFC wins.

To see how this works, rather than taking you through all 41 Super Bowls to date, let's look at the eight Super Bowls in which this year's participants, the New England Patriots and the New York Giants, have played -- five for the Pats and three for the Giants -- and also look at the heavyweight title results the year before each of those eight games:

The Boxing Predictor

Predicting a Super Bowl winner
Super Bowl and year Winner Loser Previous year
Super Bowl XX (1986) Chicago Bears (NFC) New England Patriots (AFC) No knockouts in title changes
Super Bowl XXI (1987) New York Giants (NFC) Denver Broncos (AFC) Mike Tyson KOs Trevor Berbick
Super Bowl XXV (1991) New York Giants (NFC) Buffalo Bills (AFC) Buster Douglas KOs Mike Tyson
Super Bowl XXXI (1997) Green Bay Packers (NFC) New England Patriots (AFC) Mike Tyson KOs Frank Bruno
Super Bowl XXXV (2001) Baltimore Ravens (AFC) New York Giants (NFC) No knockouts in title changes
Super Bowl XXXVI (2002) New England Patriots (AFC) St. Louis Rams (NFC) No knockouts in title changes
Super Bowl XXXVIII (2004) New England Patriots (AFC) Carolina Panthers (NFC) No knockouts in title changes
Super Bowl XXXIX (2005) New England Patriots (AFC) Philadelphia Eagles (NFC) No knockouts in title changes

As you can see from the above results, the three out of eight times that there have been knockouts in the heavyweight division with the title changing hands the previous year, the NFC division champion has won. And four times when there were no knockouts in heavyweight title bouts with the title changing hands the previous year, the AFC division champion has won.

The only exception was Super Bowl XX, when the NFC champ won without there having been a knockout in a heavyweight title bout with the title changing hands. That's an 87.5 percent rate of success for the formula.

Therefore, if the pattern holds, the winner of this year's Super Bowl, according to the Boxing Predictor, will be the New England Patriots.

Granted, the Boxing Predictor is a science only in a manner of speaking. Still, it is "The Sweet Science" and can be as accurate in picking the winner of the Super Bowl as any other so-called "science."

Boxing historian Bert Sugar is host of ESPN Classic's "Ringside" and a contributor to ESPN.com.