Exclusive Interview: Creator of BoxStat.co John Williams

Exclusive Interview: Creator of BoxStat.co John Williams

BoxStat.co is not only vital to the boxing world but can be used in an effective boxing betting strategy as well so Gambling.com's boxing betting expert Kelsey McCarson sat down with and interviewed BoxStat Creator John Williams.

Lifelong boxing fan and admitted data nerd John Williams is changing the way people think about data from the sport of professional boxing. Creator of BoxStat.co, Williams' everyday work is making it easier than ever for prospective boxing punters to quickly gather and review relevant statistical information to make educated picks for upcoming fights.

“Sometimes people want to place a bet on a specific fight outcome, but know nothing of the fighters beforehand which makes it hard,” said Williams. “With BoxStat, you get to see at a glance what these boxers have been like in the past and how they’ve compared against previous opponents of varying quality. You get to see when a fighter is all hype or not, and I believe this gives the user a much higher success rate when betting.”

BoxStat's Innovation Leads the Way

Advancing the relatively basic world of boxing statistics from simple punch stat calculations such as those offered by industry leader CompuBox to more forward-thinking and innovative metrics that might even someday help people successfully predict the outcomes of fights, BoxStat is a growing site dedicated to providing fight fans useful statistics and free information about professional boxers and upcoming fights.

Moreover, BoxStat is a growing community of like-minded data enthusiasts seeking to propel boxing data science into a fast-moving future. Because Williams doesn’t just want to think up new ways to look at data himself. He wants other people to help him do it.

“It’s been four years so far and it feels like we’ve only just got going,” said Williams. “We’ve got hundreds of ideas floating about, so it’d be good to build a community of boxing fans around BoxStat and make some of these ideas happen one day.”

BoxStat's Contributors

At BoxStat, database updates are submitted by volunteer contributors from around the world. Anyone can sign up to be a contributor, and once an account is created a user can submit updates to fight records and results.

BoxStat’s record-keeping process also includes an innovative social component where suggestions are voted on by other site contributors. The community voting system is used to confirm the validity of the data, something Williams says he started to limit the number of falsified reports he believes exists in the sport of boxing.

“Our contributors have been amazing at BoxStat,” said Williams. “They help get everything up to date, especially in countries where corruption seems to dominate the boxing records.”

A Need for BoxStat

Williams’ light bulb moment for creating BoxStat was based on his belief that the sport needs more modern and useful metrics.

“I’ve been a boxing fan for a long time, and I saw there were statistics in almost all other sports but nothing for boxing,” said Williams. “Being a web developer and a data nerd, it seemed logical to start something of my own and start it initially as a side project to better my skills as a web developer.”

Williams created BoxStat in 2013. The site as grown organically since its inception as a hobby site to the point of Williams bringing on longtime friend Dan Cartwright as a business partner to help move things forward.

“As soon as it got to a certain level, records needed to be added almost daily,” said Williams. “So it seemed a good time to ask my best friend Dan to come in on the project to help out. It’s now me and Dan who own and run the site between our full-time jobs.”

BoxStat’s endgame is to become the premier destination for boxing data junkies all around the world, and its rise and use in the boxing community has been on the steady uptick since its humble beginnings.

While BoxStat has not yet reached the same heights as comparative statistical empires BoxRec and CompuBox, the wealth of stats and information the BoxStat community provides for free is a welcome addition to the group.

Think of BoxStat as re-exploration of Boxrec and CompuBox, but with a penchant toward coloring outside the lines. Williams said while he appreciates what the two industry leaders have done in the past, he thinks his way of doing things is the wave of the future.

“We pride ourselves on delivering not only the best boxing statistics in the world, but also the most accurate punch statistics,” said Williams. “Nobody else does statistics as accurate as us.”

What BoxStat Does

Like BoxRec, the BoxStat database was built to store information about fighters and their professional fights. Williams said he started collecting information for his database from anywhere he could, and that included referencing Boxrec.

“Records were initially gathered from anywhere we could find them so we could build up the database,” said Williams. “It was mainly Boxrec, but there were inaccuracies there that we found with some countries.”

BoxStat also offers a wealth of punch statistics in their database, and is always looking for new and innovative ways to both collect those statistics as well as quantify them through advanced analysis and algorithmic thinking.  Like CompuBox, BoxStat watches fights to capture punch statistics, but rather than relying on operators at ringside or at home to submit punch data as the fight unfolds in real time, it does so entirely from reviewing fight videos in slow motion after they happen.

“We like what Compubox does, but to get high accuracy on punch stats in real-time is almost impossible from our experience,” said Williams. “Compubox does a great job of getting as close as they can, but I don’t think punch stats in real-time is anything we’d ever offer.

Moreover, where CompuBox only tracks two types of punches, which essentially boils down to jabs in one category and everything else in another, BoxStat tracks more specific types of punches including jabs, hooks, uppercuts and crosses.

“It takes a long time, and it involves long nights to get them ready for the morning, but it ensures near perfect accuracy which other sources rarely are,” said Williams.

BoxStat's Infographics

Perhaps BoxStat’s truest value lies in the way they present information. BoxStat is fast-becoming known as one of the sport’s best creators of high quality infographics. The consistent output of their work is unparalleled in the sport, and their service provides fight fans a quick and easy way to review important information about upcoming fights and fighters.

Williams is proud of what BoxStat has been able to accomplish so far, and even prouder of where it might be headed. He said while he’d love to quit his day job to focus solely on his site, his only real measure for success was improving the statistical landscape for the sport he loves.

“At the moment there’s no end goal apart from creating quality statistics for fight fans,” said Williams. “If it could support one or both of us to work full time on the site one day then that would be ideal but that’s a long way off currently. We just want to create the best possible boxing statistics database and see where it leads.”