Dripping with sweat, he headed back to his corner. He had taken another beating this round, and his trainer and supporters alike began to grow worrisome. He had never gone through a stretch like this before, succumbing to three straight rounds of bludgeoning. A shot to the head here, a shot to the ribs there. He was struggling to find any sort of rhythm in this particular fight. Could it his new home ring? Could it be that he had just lost it? His trainer, equipped with no better options, kept running him out there to try it again. Fortunately for him this was a twelve round fight–fortunately for his team the fight was only quarter over.
It wasn’t always like this for the southpaw. Joyce was always handled with care and had his opponents hand picked for him. He rarely ever fought against other lefties, as his trainers knew too well of his struggles in the past with them. He had been brilliant against righties in his eight year career–22% better than the average southpaw, in fact. He had shown a level of patience that allowed him to pick his spots and attack when he felt he could. And when he attacked, he crushed. He connected on hard punches over 31% of the time and peppered his opponents with medium strengthed jabs at a 50% clip. He hit you. He hit you hard and you didn’t forget about it. They called him “Sweet Swingin” mainly due to his dominance of right handed fighters.
However, for whatever reason, it had been different in this particular bout thus far. His opponent, Pitch McSinker, was really giving him all that he could handle. Against similar McSinker types in other fights, Joyce really had no problems. He had shown above average results in hit rate (.292) and damage per hit rate (.182) while actually knocking twenty other similar fighters out of the ring completely. He knew how to do damage against this type of fighter, but why wasn’t it working this time?
Joyce was clueless. He couldn’t comprehend why he was getting pounded. Joyce was actually swinging three percent more than he had in his first seven seasons, and whiffing two percent less. Sure, he was reaching for punches a little more than usual, but when McSinker danced into a zone Joyce could strike, Joyce was being ultra aggressive. He was swinging in better circumstances, he just wasn’t able to generate any power on his punches against McSinker.
Further compounding the problem, it seemed as though he was getting unlucky with his connected punches. Against fighters like Pitch McSinker in the past fights, Joyce usually had a positive outcome on hits about 30% of the time. In this fight, through two rounds, Joyce had a meager positive outcome percentage of just ten. Often, when your positive punch percentage drops that low, a change in swing pattern can be detected. However, Joyce was swinging with the same punch location percentages against McSinker that he always had. Through a quarter of the fight, it just hadn’t been his night.
Lucky for Joyce, however, is that all of the skills he’s showcasing in the ring still point towards winning by round twelve. He might not have as much success as he did in his previous years, yet most indicators of a successful fighter as still being utilized. While the judges have scored the first three rounds in favor of McSinker, it would not be surprising to anybody if Joyce was able to turn it around quickly.