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How is Boxing actually scored?

If you've ever watch a Boxing match, and wondered what all of those numbers at the bottom of the screen mean. Or if you've watch an entire fight and been utterly confused when the announcer says: "Judges ringside score the bout 116 to 112 in a unanimous decision (long pause) and NEW champion of the WORLD!"

If that sentence made no sense to you at all, believe me, you're not alone. Lets break it down.

The 10 point Must System

Yes, the method used to score Boxing is called the 10 point Must system. If you there was ever any indication that its not your average scoring system, that's probably it. Here's how it works:

  • Each round is scored on a 10 point scale. Typically the Boxer "wins" the round receives 10 points, and the Boxer who "loses" the round gets 9.

  • If a Boxer is knocked down, he loses a point, bringing his score down to 8.

  • If both Boxers are knocked down in the same round, they cancel each other out.

  • If the judge believes the round is totally even, both Boxers are given 10 points.

  • Boxers can also lose points because they break the rules like low blows and headbutts etc.

  • At the end of the match, the scores for each round are added up.

  • In a 12 round fight, if one fighter wins all 12 rounds his score would be 120 and his opponents would be 108.

So if a Boxer gets knocked down, or loses a few rounds in a row, especially in 6,8, and 10 round fights, it becomes exceptionally hard for them to climb back to win a fight. At this point you'll hear the announcers start saying "well his only shot is a knockout" because he is so far down on the scorecards that its mathematically impossible to win.

Sounds simple right? Not quite, this brings us to the most controversial part:

The Judges

The people who score every round and decide the outcome of the fight are the judges. This is easily the most frustrating part of boxing. Since, there aren't any easy "scoring plays" like in football or soccer, where an onlooker can easily know when a team has scored it is entirely up to the judges to determine who wins each round. We are not going to talk about controversial decisions today, but we certainly will someday.

At the end of the match, the judges submit their scorecards, which will lead to one of four different verdicts:

  • Unanimous Decision- The judges all agree on who won on the score cards.

  • Split Decision- Two of the three judges thought Boxer A won the fight, while the last judge thought the other Boxer B won the fight.

  • Majority Decision- Two of the three judges thought Boxer A won the fight, while the last judge thought the fight was a draw

  • Draw- When the judges tallied their scorecards, either they all thought the match was totally even. Or, one judge thinks Boxer A won, one judge thinks Boxer B won, and the last judge thought the match was a draw.

While Boxing may be largely subjective, there are certain things that the judges do look for in a match. Other wise without a certain set of criteria, judgement would be placed on a gut feeling of who won the fight, which would not be acceptable. Especially in high level fights.

What do the Judges look for?

Typically, judges are looking for the three following criteria in each round of a fight.

  • Effective Aggression- When a fighter is aggressive, it typically gives off the impression of dominance in a fight. But they must also be effective. If a Boxer throws 100 punches in a round but only land 5 glancing blows, they are not being effective.

  • Defense- A Boxer must exhibit intentional defensive maneuvers that both protect themselves from danger, but also help set them up for offensive strikes.

  • Ring Generalship- This is the appearance of control of the fight. The fighter must impose their style and dominate the fight in the way that they want to.

Want to learn more about Boxing? We would love to teach you all of this and much more! Stop in and try one of our classes at the Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced level. Click here to learn more!

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