How Is Boxing Scored? A Comprehensive Guide

How Is Boxing Scored?

Has there always been a scoring system in boxing?

The boxing we see today has evolved significantly from its ancient origins. The sport traces its roots back to the societies of the ancient world.

In the early days, boxing matches took place in open spaces, with spectators forming a makeshift arena. These fights would continue until a fighter was gravely injured or until there was only one man left standing.

Despite the potential for violence in modern boxing matches, it’s rare to see fighters severely injured in the ring. This is largely due to advancements in protective gear, such as cushioned gloves that help prevent injuries.

These improvements mean that boxers can now spend more time in the ring, and knockouts are less frequent compared to when the sport was in its infancy. Boxing organizations have established a scoring system to determine the winner of each match.

Did Boxing Always Have a Scoring System?

The Basics of Boxing Scoring

Boxing scoring is a unique system that takes into account several factors during a match. These factors include the number of clean punches landed, the level of aggression shown by a boxer, and the control of the ring, among others. The scoring system can vary slightly depending on whether the match is a professional bout, an Olympic event, or an amateur fight.

How Is a Boxing Match Scored?

In most boxing matches, a system known as the “10-point must system” is used. In this system, the winner of each round receives 10 points, while the loser gets 9 points or less. If the round is deemed even, both boxers receive 10 points. The boxer with the most points at the end of the match is declared the winner.

Understanding the 10-Point Must System

The 10-point must system is the most commonly used method of scoring in boxing. It’s called the “must” system because judges “must” award the winner of the round 10 points. The loser of the round gets 9 points or less, depending on factors like knockdowns or penalties.

How Is a Boxing Round Scored?

Each round in a boxing match is scored individually. Judges look at the number of clean punches landed, the boxer’s aggression, and their control of the ring. If a boxer is knocked down during the round, they typically lose a point. If a boxer commits a foul, they can also lose points.

The Role of Judges in Boxing Scoring

In boxing, three judges sit at different sides of the ring and score each round. The judges’ scores are added up at the end of the match to determine the winner. If the judges have different scores, the boxer with two out of three scores in their favor wins the match.

How Is Professional Boxing Scored?

Professional boxing scoring follows the 10-point must system. However, professional bouts often have more rounds than amateur or Olympic matches, which can lead to more varied and complex scorecards.

How Is Olympic Boxing Scored?

Olympic boxing scoring has evolved over the years. Currently, it uses a system where five judges score each round, but only the scores of three judges, chosen randomly, are used. The 10-point must system is used, but the emphasis is more on the number of clean punches landed.

The Difference Between Pro and Olympic Boxing Scoring

While both professional and Olympic boxing use the 10-point must system, there are differences in how matches are scored. Professional boxing often values aggression and ring control more, while Olympic boxing focuses more on the number of clean punches landed.

How Is Amateur Boxing Scored?

Amateur boxing, like Olympic boxing, places a heavy emphasis on the number of clean punches landed. The use of protective headgear and the shorter length of matches also differentiate amateur boxing from professional bouts.

The Importance of Ring Control in Boxing Scoring

Ring control refers to a boxer’s ability to dictate the pace and style of the fight. A boxer who demonstrates good ring control can often sway the judges’ scores in their favor, even if they land fewer punches than their opponent.

How Is Thai Boxing Scored?

Thai boxing, also known as Muay Thai, has a unique scoring system. In addition to punches, kicks, elbows, and knee strikes are also scored. The effectiveness of the strikes, rather than the number, is often the determining factor in scoring.

How Is Kick Boxing Scored?

Kickboxing scoring is similar to boxing but with the addition of kicks. Judges score based on the number of clean strikes landed the effectiveness of the strikes, and the overall control of the match.

The Controversy Around Boxing Scoring

Boxing scoring is often a subject of controversy. Critics argue that the system is subjective and can lead to inconsistent and sometimes controversial decisions. There have been calls for more transparency and the use of technology to aid in scoring.

Famous Controversial Boxing Scorecards

Throughout the history of boxing, there have been numerous highly-discussed matches wherein the scorecards became a contentious subject.

Examples of such fights include the captivating encounters between the legendary Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley, as well as the memorable draw that emerged from the clash between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez. The debates surrounding these thrilling bouts continue to captivate the boxing community to this day.

How to Score a Draw in Boxing

A draw in boxing occurs when two boxers have the same score at the end of the match. This can happen if both boxers score an equal number of points, or if the judges’ scores are split, with one judge favoring each boxer and the third judge scoring the match even.

The Role of a Knockdown in Boxing Scoring

A knockdown occurs when a boxer is punched and any part of their body other than their feet touches the canvas. Knockdowns are significant in boxing scoring as they usually result in the knocked-down boxer losing a point in that round.

How Fouls Affect Boxing Scoring

Fouls in boxing, such as low blows, headbutts, or hitting an opponent when they’re down, can lead to points being deducted from the offending boxer’s score. In severe cases, a boxer can be disqualified for committing fouls.

The Impact of Boxing Scoring on Betting

Understanding boxing scoring is crucial for betting on matches. The scoring system can influence the odds and potential payouts. For example, a boxer known for their aggressive style and ability to control the ring might be favored in a professional boxing match.

How Boxing Scoring Has Evolved Over the Years

Boxing scoring has evolved significantly over the years. From the bare-knuckle era where there were no rounds or points, to the introduction of the Queensberry rules and the 10-point must system, boxing scoring has continually adapted to ensure fairness and excitement in the sport.


If no one has won by knockout within the set number of rounds, then the judges will decide who the winner is based on their round-by-round scorecards. Each round is worth 10 points. That means that a fighter could score 120 in a 12-round fight and 100 in a 10-round bout, and so forth.

Each judge will have an overall winner or may have scored the fight dead even. These are some of the possible outcomes:

  • Unanimous Decision: All three judges are ahead of the same fighter on their scorecards.
  • Split decision Two judges have boxer A ahead of one judge, and one has boxer B ahead. This means that Boxer A wins, with two scorecards to 1.
  • Majority decision One judge has a fighter ahead of the other, and the third judge scores it as a draw. Although the winner fighter didn’t get a unanimous decision from the judges, he did win the majority of the cards.
  • Draw – If one judge has boxer A ahead of the other, and one judge has boxer B ahead of the third, the overall result will be a draw. This is also known as a split draw. If all three judges have it dead even, that’s a draw (a “unanimous draw”). 
  • Majority draw -If the two judges cannot determine the winner, but the third judge believes that one of the fighters has won, then a “Majority draw ” is declared.

Boxing Scoring: The Role of the Referee

How do they decide who wins

The referee in a boxing match has a crucial role in scoring. They can deduct points for fouls, count knockdowns, and ultimately have a say in the outcome of the match. The referee’s decisions can significantly impact the final score.

Boxing Scoring: The Role of the Corner

The corner in a boxing match, consisting of the trainer and cutman, plays a vital role in a boxer’s performance but has no direct role in scoring. They can, however, influence the outcome by providing strategic advice and keeping their boxer in optimal condition.

Are the Scores Ever Disputed?

All the scoring criteria may have caught your attention: they are inherently subjective. The quantifiable data of a basketball game makes it easier to perceive the results, as it relies on the ball’s interaction with the net. Conversely, boxing hinges entirely on the judges’ perceptions and opinions.

The task of determining the winner in a match can pose challenges for certain ringside judges. Occasionally, discrepancies arise among judges regarding the scoring of a match, resulting in varied outcomes.

The Future of Boxing Scoring

The future of boxing scoring is poised for exciting advancements, with the potential for increased reliance on technology to enhance match scoring. Imagine sensors embedded in gloves, meticulously tracking and accurately counting each punch, surpassing the limitations of human perception. Furthermore, the possibility of employing AI judges arises, ensuring that decisions are made without the influence of human error or bias. These innovations have the potential to revolutionize the sport, delivering fairer and more accurate outcomes for boxing enthusiasts worldwide.

What is the 10-point must system in boxing?

The 10-point must system is a method of scoring boxing matches where the winner of each round receives 10 points, and the loser gets 9 points or less.

How are knockdowns scored in boxing?

In most cases, a knockdown results in the knocked-down boxer losing a point in that round.

What is considered a foul in boxing?

Fouls in boxing include low blows, headbutts, hitting an opponent when they’re down, and not following the referee’s instructions.

How does Olympic boxing scoring differ from professional boxing scoring?

While both use the 10-point must system, Olympic boxing focuses more on the number of clean punches landed, while professional boxing often values aggression and ring control more.

Can a boxing match end in a draw?

Yes, a boxing match can end in a draw if both boxers have the same score at the end of the match, or if the judges’ scores are split.

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