How to Score a Boxing Match

How to Score a Boxing Match

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You may have heard there’s a little boxing match this weekend. But, since the glory days of boxing are behind us, it may have been a while since you’ve actually watched a fight. Before you shell out the money to watch Mayweather-Pacquiao, let’s brush up on how the funky scoring works—because, let’s be honest, this fight’s going to a decision. Here’s how a professional boxing match gets scored:



The scoring system used in professional boxing is called the 10-Point Must System. These are the basics for scoring a round:

  • Judges score on a 10-point scale. Most rounds will end 10-9, with the more dominant boxer receiving 10 points, the other receiving 9.
  • If a boxer is knocked down, he loses a point. If a boxer is knocked down twice, he loses two points. If both fighters are knocked down, the knockdowns cancel each other out.
  • While uncommon, if a fighter completely dominates a round but doesn’t score a knockdown, a judge can still score that round 10-8.
  • If a judge deems the round completely even, both fighters receive 10 points.
  • When the referee sees fit, he can take away a point or two for an intentional foul; he can do the same for unintentional ones, but that usually occurs after at least a warning.




While you’d probably do well relying on the eyeball test to determine the winner of each round, it helps to know what a judge is looking for. These are the things that help determine which fighter won a round:

  • Effective Aggression – Being aggressive gives the impression of dominance, but unless the boxer is landing shots and not constantly getting countered, it’s not exactly “effective.” Judges look for effective aggression, where the aggressor consistently lands his punches and avoids those from his opponent.
  • Ring Generalship – The fighter who controls the action and enforces his will and style.
  • Defense – How well is a boxer slipping, parrying, and blocking punches? Good defense is important.
  • Hard and Clean Punches – To the untrained eye, it can appear as if a boxer is landing a lot of shots, when, in fact, most are being blocked or aren’t landing flush. A judge needs to look for hard shots that land clean.




If a fight goes this distance, the result is determined by the scorecards. Here are the possible outcomes:

  • Unanimous Decision – All three judges had the same fighter scoring more points.
  • Split Decision – Two of the three judges had the same fighter scoring more points (the winner), while the other judge had the other boxer scoring more points (the loser).
  • Majority Decision – Two of the three judges had the same fighter scoring more points (the winner), while the other judge ruled the contest a draw.
  • Draw – A draw can occur when either two of the judges rule the contest a draw, or it can happen when one judge scores the bout for one fighter, another judge scores it for the other fighter, and the third rules it a draw.
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