How to Score a Professional Boxing Match

By Steve Silverman

Boxing is a sport that is known for its brutality, yet there is far more to getting in the ring and slugging your opponent. Speed, quick hands and the ability to fake your opponent out of position will probably win a boxer more matches than the ability to register a knockout. Here's how to score a boxing match when it does not end in a knock out.

Understand that boxing is governed by state athletic commissions. Rules in New York may differ from rules in California. The differences are usually subtle--scoring by rounds as opposed to scoring by points--but the judge has to know the difference. Most states score on a 10-point must system, meaning the winner of the round gets 10 points and the loser gets nine or less. Most rounds are scored 10 to 9, but in the event of a knockdown, multiple knockdowns or a one-sided battering, scores of 10 to 8 or 10 to 7 are possible. Mark your score down on the official scorecard directly at the end of each round. Hand your completed scorecard to the referee at the end of the bout. He will add up the final totals and determine the winner.

Scout out the fighters. A good judge can handle any fight, but if you know your assignment in advance get to know the two fighters' history. Find out their particular boxing styles. Is one quite speedy with a quick jab who can make an opponent look slow? Is the other a home run hitter who can register a devastating punch with either hand? It's best to know this going into the bout. Not to give one fighter an edge before the match starts, but just to know what to expect.

When scoring the fight, do not be overly impressed with a knockdown or a punch that causes a cut. Instead, focus on scoring punches. A jab that lands cleanly should get the fighter a point. A hook that lands cleanly gets a fighter a a point. The same holds true for a straight right hand or a right upper cut. Punches thrown in combinations get fighters multiple points. A knockdown may not win a fighter a particular round. For example, if fighter A comes out of his corner and fakes a left jab and then delivers a crunching left hook that floors fighter B, he has a big advantage. However, if fighter B picks himself up, keeps himself out of further trouble and then starts connecting with punches and combinations of his own and dominates the rest of the round, fighter B can clearly win the round even though he was knocked down early in the fight.

Do not depend on memory when scoring the fight. A lot can happen in the round so you may want to refer back to your notes. You don't have the benefit of watching the fight on television and instant replay. It is your mind, vision and ability to differentiate the power of punches that make the difference. You should have the score marked on your scorecard within 10 seconds of the round's conclusion. If the way you scored a round is gnawing at you later in the bout, refer to your notes and make an adjustment. However, the best advice is to simply look forward to the next round and not dwell on what happened in the past.

Be proud of your independence. Depend solely on your own eyes, ears and instincts to score the fight. By all means, talk to your fellow judges, the referee or even the press once the fight is over. However, do not share your thoughts with anybody until the fight is over and the fight scorecard has been handed in. You don't want anyone else to influence your scoring.

About the Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.

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