How to: Judging a Boxing Match

Boxing can be as beautiful as it is frustrating. Watching the sweet science can be anything from exhilarating to infuriating depend on who you’re rooting for. While the strategy and tactics are almost always enjoyable to watch, knowing your fighter may be “down on the scorecards” adds an unwanted tension to the mix.

Thinking, or worse yet, knowing your fighting is losing in the judges’ eyes can be a downer. The only thing worse is when you believe your fighter isn’t and the judges feel otherwise. With no purely objective means to judge a match that goes the distance, an understanding of how to score is important for both the spectators and even more so, the official judges.

The professional scoring criteria

Professional boxing uses what’s referred to as the 10-Point Must System. It’s fairly straightforward. Judges score on a 10-point scale. Rounds usually end 10-9 with the dominant competitor receiving the 10. Getting knocked down cost a point. Two knockdowns cost two points. If both boxers are knocked down the points are canceled.

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In rare of cases of dominance, a fighter can be awarded a 10-8 round. If the judge doesn’t deem either fighter as dominant, a very rare 10-10 round is scored. Finally, if the referee wishes, s/he can take away a point or two for fouls they deem intentional. Points can also be docked for unintentional fouls, but this is done after a warning.

What the judges are looking for

Hard, clean punches are the first thing judges look for. To spectators unfamiliar with the sport, flurries can look more effective than they really are. Experienced judges look for shots that don’t bounce off the guard or get parried. Solid, damaging punches are what score well in the CompuBox and the eyes of the judges.

Effective and purposeful aggression is another determining factor in what makes a fighter dominant. Simply backing an opponent up doesn’t make the grade, however. Following or corning an opponent while landing clean punches is what makes it effective.

A boxer with effective aggression often lends themselves to a beatdown at the hands of a more defensively savvy opponent. The ability to slip, block and parry while maintaining balance and score with clean shots can make the fighter on their back foot dominant in the eyes of the judges.

Whether offensive or defensive, the ability to control the ebb and flow of the match is ring generalship. Controlling where the fighters are positioned with tactics, strategy, and footwork go a long way towards a win and receiving a 10-9 for the round.

The result will still be subjective

The results can only be some manner of decision or draw. A unanimous decision means all three judges agreed. A split decision means two judges agree and saw the other fighter as a winner. Finally, a majority decision means two agreed and one thought it was a draw.

No man, women, fighter or judge is perfect. Boxing, as an art, will always be subjective.

Author: The London Fight Factory

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