by Lee Groves
Few events in the history of sport have ever threatened the boundaries of human endurance. Fewer still end up shattering those preconceived limits.
That’s exactly what occurred when super welterweights Jesus Soto Karass and Neeco Macias met Thursday at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif. From first moment to last, Soto Karass (whose “Renuente” nickname ironically translates to “reluctant”) and Macias (known as “The Rooster” for the crowing he does before and after each fight) scratched, clawed and punched their tickets to statistical immortality. As the seconds, minutes and rounds ticked by, those lucky enough to witness it as it happened shook their heads in disbelief as the fighters picked a corner and whaled away for 180 uninterrupted seconds at a time.
Even as their facial tissues reddened, swelled and broke, their arms never stopped pumping and the wills that fueled those arms never weakened. It was a sight to behold, and the most common expression that was seen around ringside was smiling wonderment. That wonderment was intensified when ESPN chose to leave up a graphic that showed the live round-by-round breakdown of punches thrown (and later punches landed). The numbers soared so quickly that one might have thought they would’ve produced a sonic boom.
In the end, Soto-Karass was declared the winner by majority decision, his first victory since he stopped Andre Berto in the 12th round of their July 2013 slugfest. It also was Macias’ first loss in 18 professional fights, but, like the aftermath of the first Micky Ward-Arturo Gatti war, both men knew their effort far transcended wins or losses. They had fulfilled their mutual goal of giving their fans the very best fight possible and of maximizing their own expectations as athletes and as men. The sportsmanship was mutual and genuine, a shining example of the higher ideals supporters of boxing always tout when defending their favorite sport.
In the 33-year history of CompuBox, no single fight has ever rewritten the record book as prolifically and as completely as Soto Karass vs. Macias. Consider:
- Soto-Karass’ 1,848 total punches thrown in a fight is the most ever recorded by one fighter in the CompuBox era, shattering the 1,675 Antonio Margarito logged in beating Joshua Clottey on December 2, 2006. Even more amazingly, Soto Karass’ mark was achieved in two fewer rounds, for Margarito’s fight with Clottey was a 12-rounder. Not surprisingly, Macias’ 1,505 total punch attempts vaulted him into the number eight spot all-time in all weight classes.
- With 612 total connects, Macias became just the fourth fighter ever to crack the 600 mark. Cecilio Espino holds the all-time record with 637 total connects against Luigi Camputaro in January 1992 while Troy Dorsey’s 620 in his first fight against Jorge Paez in February 1990 is second and Zack Padilla’s 615 against Ray Oliveira in December 1993 stands third. Of these entrants, however, Macias is the only one to accumulate 600 or more connects within 10 rounds as Espino’s fight ended in round 11 and the fights involving Dorsey and Padilla went the 12-round distance. Soto Karass’ 507 total connects fell 38 shy of the top 10 all-time CompuBox list, which now begins with Oscar Larios’ 545 in his first fight against Wayne McCullough in February 2005.
- Amazingly, Macias landed only one jab in the entire 10-round contest (as did Soto-Karass), so his 611 power connects established a new all-time, all-divisions record in that category, edging out the 609 Troy Dorsey logged in his first fight with Jorge Paez in February 1990. Soto-Karass also found a spot in the top 10, as his 506 landed power shots was fifth all-time behind Roman Gonzalez’s 560 against Katsunari Takayama in July 2009 and Zack Padilla’s 508 against Ray Oliveira in December 1993.
- In terms of power punches thrown in a fight, Soto Karass established a new all-time, all-divisions record with 1,831 while Macias grabbed the number-two spot with 1,494. Both left the previous record holder, Zack Padilla, far behind; his 1,287 power punch attempts against Ray Oliveira in December 1993 were an astonishing 544 behind Soto Karass’ total and 207 behind Macias’. Soto Karass exceeded Padilla’s previous record by 42.2%, which would be like a sprinter lowering Usain Bolt’s 100 meter world record from 9.58 to 5.56.
- Yet another all-time, all-divisions CompuBox record the pair set was the 3,353 combined total punches they threw, which obliterated the previous record of 3,020 set by Ray Oliveira (1,596) and Zack Padilla (1,424) in their December 1993 12-rounder, the only other fight recorded by CompuBox that cracked the 3,000-punch mark. Three other fights fell just short of that threshold — Ray Oliveira-Vince Phillips with 2,989, the first Oscar Larios-Wayne McCullough fight with 2,978, and the first Yonnhy Perez-Joseph Agbeko meeting with 2,958.
- In terms of the top 10 CompuBox performances in 154-pound fights, Soto Karass and Macias guaranteed their names would be prominent on every list. Macias’ 219 total punches in round five against Marvin Cabrera on September 1, 2018 still holds the top spot, but Soto Karass’ performances against Macias in rounds nine (217), three (206), ten (200), eight (198) and five (194) earned him spots number two, three, four and six as well as a tie for eighth with Macias’ 194 in round one. Incredibly, Macias’ first-round performance was the only one to have earned him a place in the new top 10 at 154; in fact, in order for a fighter to get into the top 10 at 154, he now must throw at least 191 punches in a round, which was what Macias did in round six of the Cabrera fight.
- Macias set a new all-time record at 154 with 84 total connects in round one, breaking the old mark of 76 held by James Kirkland in round four of his December 2013 bout against Glen Tapia. Macias also grabbed the third spot with 75 total connects in round seven (he tied his own mark of 75 in round five against Cabrera, and tied Kassim Ouma’s 75 in round three of his October 2002 fight against Darrell Woods). Soto Karass, whose highest total of total connects was 66, just missed the top 10, which now begins with Ouma’s 67 in round six against Woods.
- In terms of power punches thrown in a round during a 154-pound fight counted by CompuBox, Soto Karass set a new record with 215 in round nine, breaking Macias’ previous record of 207 that was set in round five against Cabrera just 68 days before. In addition to the number-one spot, Soto Karass achieved the third most with 202 in round three, the fourth most with 200 in round 10, the fifth most with 196 in round eight, the sixth most with 192 in the fifth and the ninth most with 182 in the sixth. Meanwhile, Macias’ 189 power punch attempts in round one earned him a tie for seventh with himself as he also threw 189 in round three against Cabrera. That would be the only time Macias would create a fresh entry on this particular list.
- As far as power connects in a 154-pound fight tracked by CompuBox, Macias entered the Soto Karass fight as the record holder with 74, which he set in round five against Cabrera. Macias extended that record in round one with 84, then moved his previous mark down to third when he landed 75 in round seven. As for Soto Karass, he vaulted into the eighth spot when he connected with 66 power punches in round nine.
The round-by-round breakdowns provided plenty of eye-popping numbers:
- Round one saw them combine for 114 total connects (84-30 for Macias), 114 landed power shots (again, 84-30 Macias) and 366 combined punch attempts, which would prove to be the high-water mark for the fight. Still, the pair exceeded 300 total combined punches in every round (306, 365, 315, 334, 322, 312, 341, 347 and 345 from round two onward) as well as 100 total connects (114, 105, 114, 102, 117, 111, 121, 115, 120 and 100) and 100 landed power shots (114, 105, 114, 102, 116, 110, 121, 115, 120 and 100).
- Jabs were a non-factor in this bout, for each man logged just one landed jab (round five for Macias and round six for Soto Karass). Moreover, Macias attempted no jabs in six of the rounds and tried no more than five in any given round (round one). As for Soto Karass, he at least tried to jab in eight of the 10 rounds but attempted no more than four (rounds one and three), logged one attempt three times (rounds two, four and six — the latest attempt of which landed) and recorded two attempts three times (rounds five, eight and nine).
- Macias was the far more accurate power hitter as he landed 40.9% of his hooks, crosses and uppercuts (611 of 1,494) while Soto Karass connected on 27.6% of his (506 of 1,831). The round-by-round breakdown saw Macias land 40% or more of his power punches in six rounds while Soto Karass failed to record 40% accuracy at all (his best was 31.9% in round six, where he went 58 of 182).
- Macias was also the more precise hitter overall as he topped the 40% mark six times, with his 43.3% performance in round one (84 of 194) being his best. Conversely, Soto Karass topped 30% total accuracy twice (30.9% in round five, when he went 60 of 194, and 32.2% in round six, when he went 59 of 183).
- Finally, the low water marks for total connects in this fight would be enviable figures for everyone else. For Macias, it was his 52 total connects in round six, his 130 total punch attempts in round nine, his 50 power connects in round 10, his 130 power attempts in round nine, his 34.5% total accuracy in round 10 and his 35.2% power precision in round 10. For Soto Karass, it was his 30 total connects in round one, his 153 total punch attempts in round two, his 30 power connects in round one, his 152 power attempts in round two, his 17.4% total accuracy in round one and his 17.9% power precision in round one.
- A final measure of their aggressiveness can be found in their punch selection: 99.3% of Macias’ total output (1,494 of 1,505) and 99.1% of Soto Karass’ total output were power punches. Their combined jab total was a measly 2 of 28 (1 of 11 for Macias, 1 of 17 for Soto Karass).
For all the statistical wizardry they produced, Soto Karass and Macias ensured themselves the honor of having a hyphen join their names. With that, they have become one, just like Gatti and Ward, Ali and Frazier, Hagler and Hearns, and Zale and Graziano, among many others. Those who saw them perform Thursday will remember it for the rest of their days because it redefined what can be done inside a boxing ring if the right two fighters with the right mutual mindsets decide to risk it all in the name of potential greatness.
Lee Groves is a boxing writer and historian based in Friendly, West Virginia. He is a full member of the BWAA, from which he has won 16 writing awards, including two first-place awards, since 2011. He has been an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame since 2001 and is also a writer, researcher and punch-counter for CompuBox, Inc. He is the author of “Tales from the Vault: A Celebration of 100 Boxing Closet Classics” (available on Amazon) and the co-author of the newly released book “Muhammad Ali: By the Numbers” (also available on Amazon). To contact Groves about a personalized autographed copy, use the email email@example.com or send him a message via Facebook.