Judges and Boxing

Judges and Boxing

If there’s one thing I’ll never understand as a boxing fan, it’s the scoring. Whether it be at the amateur or professional level. If It’s a big fight, then there’s probably that one scorecard that makes you wonder how they got that score. In this article, let’s look at how judging score cards work, how both amateur and professional boxing is scored, and controversial scorecards. Other than the number of belts, I think boxing scorecards are one of the main reasons keeping more fans from watching the sport. Let it also be known that judging a sport like boxing is extremely difficult and not all judges are bad but maybe have a bad day.

Whether you have a 4 round fight or a 12 round fight in boxing, a judge scores the round out of ten points. The winner of that round gets a ten and the loser in the judges eye gets a nine. Simple right? Not so much. If a fighter is knocked down, then he loses a point for that round. In this scenario the winner of that round would get a score of 10-8; but wait, there’s more. A judge can also score a tight round 10-10 or if there are multiple knockdowns for one person, then 10-7. If a round is total one way traffic there could be a 10-8 score, even without a knockdown. These are some of the more common scores a fan would see. However, we need to dive a little deeper to see how scoring can be affected.

The judges and referee watch both fighters for positive and negative output throughout the fight. Points can be deducted for excessive clinching, head butts, and low blows. Judges tend to look for things such as a clean punch landing and not getting counter punched. They also look for defense, who is owning the ring, and who is more effective with their aggression.  At the end of the fight the most common results are unanimous decision, split decision, majority decision, and a draw. If the fight ends early it is most likely by knockout or technical knockout. Now that we have a better understand of how a fight can be judged, let’s look and see if their are any differences between professional and amateur.

Before 2016, Amateur boxing was scored by hits and not a point scoring system out of ten. It also contained five judges and not three. Since 2016 it then moved to the traditional ten point system but they kept five judges. Amateur boxing has similar criteria to earn the ten points but the loser could get as low as six points. Which in professional boxing rarely occurs. Getting a six means the fighter is clearly overmatched, while a nine denotes a very close round. A disqualification can happen if a fighter makes too many fouls, where as in professional boxing they usually have more leniency before losing a point. Amateur boxing also has age limits for the Olympics and gloves need to be 10 ounces. Professionals can set their own stipulations for things such as gloves etc.

The largest difference between the two would be how they score the fight. It’s simply not just clean power shots that will win you a round in an amateur bout. Judges also look for technique/tactics, domination of the fight, quality punches, and no rule breaking. Another big difference is an amateur boxer could receive a standing eight count but it doesn’t go against their score card. Although there are some slight differences and a few similarities the goal remains the same, win the fight.

As time goes on we continue to see fights where fans scratch their head. How did they get this score? What fight was a judge watching. Most recently a 117-110 card in the Gabriel Maestre vs Mykal Fox, 117-111 in Brian Castano vs Jermell Charlo, and 117-111 in Rigondeaux vs Casimero. It seems there is always one score that is an outlier but the issue is, it’s all about perspective. One judge sees a boxers aggression and punches as clean, while the next may see it differently. Unless they fully change how fights are scored it will never improve, because people are objective. Can judging be changed for the better? Perhaps; but how, I am unsure.

Which fights have had the most controversial score cards in your opinion? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Clint Rowe

    Canelo vs GGG
    I cannot see how any judge could award Canelo that fight. After watching multiple times even bias judging towards Canelo left me at 116-112 for GGG. Such a shame for GGG. A big fan of both fighters.

  • boxing betting tips

    Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading your post about boxing. I will surely bookmark this post.


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