There is a subtext that you’ll find in the following conversation about how to fact-check boxing matchups.

The other day in a bar, five friends eavesdropped on a conversation between two friends at a nearby table. I was in the group of five. We couldn’t help but overhear because they didn’t converse in low voices. The bar was otherwise quiet; there was no music to account for the way they carried on with loud talk. Some people are like that. They hammer their points by raising their voices. We will call the two friends Adamu and Ikechukwu.

Adamu and Ike were arguing about Segun and Umoren, two professional boxers they knew. The pugilists turned professional in the featherweight class. Two years later, Segun became bigger (read heavier), faster and deadlier. He consequently moved up three classes to the welterweight division. Umoren remained in featherweight, averaging out at fights in his level and making little effort to upgrade. What caught my interest was when fact-checking intruded in the conversation and caused a division.

Adamu told his friend Ikechukwu that in boxing, perseverance, discipline, and a good diet are keys to success. This, according to him, was what catapulted Segun into the welterweight class, a higher class. Segun apparently had a better coach as well as a training and diet regimen that improved his overall weight and effectiveness. He also began earning more for his fights. Unfortunately, in extolling Segun’s virtues, Adamu lit a match that inflamed a hot argument, a disagreement, and a walkout.

“I cannot pity Umoren,” Adamu began.

Him no try at all. He is in the same weight class struggling to make it while his mates have moved up.

Look at it! No one can pair him with Segun now; it will be like sending Umoren to an early grave. Haba! Fight someone who weighs 22 pounds more than him? Unless he wants to die.”

Ikechukwu doubted what he was hearing. But before he responded, he whipped out his phone and factchecked Adamu. Google confirmed that Segun truly moved to a higher weight class. However, Ikechukwu discovered that the difference between their weights was 19. It was not 22 pounds as Adamu confidently declared.  The average weight difference between welterweight and featherweight classes is 20 pounds, with 19 as lower and 21 as upper limit.

Adamu, the statistics guru, apparently missed it by One Pound.

Ikechukwu launched an unprovoked attack on the statistics.

“You saw that I was factchecking what you said just now? Do you want to know what I found?” Without waiting for an answer, he lashed out at Adamu.  

“You are a bloody liar! This is always your problem, quoting statistics, quoting the wrong statistics, and trying to mislead people.

“Everything you say is totally false,” Ike concluded.

Adamu was nonplussed. His jaw dropped in surprise. But Ike was not finished with him yet.

“Segun weighs 12 pounds more than Umoren,” Ikechukwu shot at him. “I should have known better than listen to you rattle off statistics every time.”

Adamu got offended and angry. The two friends went for each other’s throats, a hot and fiery exchange that eventually made them storm out of the restaurant without eating.

Our lunch party overheard everything. As soon as they left, we launched into a debate about who was right. Two of us took sides with Ikechukwu and berated Adamu for telling lies. The other three, yours sincerely included, sided with Adamu.

Who was right? This was how I explained my understanding of the argument.

Adamu’s point was that constant training, perseverance and staying to a diet regimen improves both the weight, power and earning potential of a boxer. Segun will literally kill Umoren if they ever squared up in a fight. Ikechukwu said it did not matter what weight anyone chose to fight; what was important was staying true to your weight. He said Adamu make it seem important by putting up what was clearly a lie and using faulty statistics as proof. He latched on to the statistics which his factchecker which showed that Adamu was inexact.

I told my friends that Ikechukwu was being dishonest by calling Adamu a liar because of the wrong number he quoted – which did not disprove the message he was trying to convey. The facts speak in favour of Adamu. Segun and Umoren are no longer in the same weight class. Fact. Umoren cannot fight Segun without serious consequences. Fact. Segun used training, perseverance, and disciplined diet to improve and move up the weight class. Fact. It is good to move up the weight class because, all things being equal, more money is earned in higher classes. The only point that Adamu missed was the difference between their weights, not that there was no difference or that this difference is not significant in terms of punching power and potential earnings.

I left the restaurant after the lunch meeting reflecting on how this conversation mirrors what the mainstream media is doing with Peter Obi’s statistic. The outcome of my reflection will appear on Thursday in The Sun.

how to fact-check boxing matchups

How to fact-check boxing matchups