Scoring a Bout

Scoring is a subjective but elementally specific art. There are three judges used in boxing matches, each one turning in his or her score at the end of each round.

Scoring is based on a "10-point must system." The perceived winner of the round earns 10 points, while the other receives 9. If the loser of the round is knocked down, it is considered a 10-8 round. If knocked down twice, a 10-7 round and so on.

The referee is also able to deduct points for infractions, making a 9-7 round, for example, a possibility.

Scoring is based on the following criteria:

  1. Clean punching

  2. Effective aggressiveness

  3. Defense

  4. Ring generalship

As previously mentioned, scoring is subjective to preference. One criterion may be more appealing or important to a judge than another one. Here are how four different individuals score bouts. Note the similarities and differences:

Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports boxing writer:

  1. 1. No question that clean punches landed is the top criteria. No matter what else, this tops the list.
  2. 2. The power of the punches. In amateur boxing, power does not count. In pro boxing, it is a very significant part of the game. And that's why it makes scoring off TV so hard, because it's hard to tell the power of the punches off of TV. But if a boxer lands a lot of pitty-pat punches and his opponent lands far fewer, but they're much harder and more powerful, I'd tend to favor the harder puncher.
  3. 3. I look to see which fighter is controlling the tempo and the way the fight is fought. This doesn't arbitrarily mean that the guy coming forward always wins the round. There are guys who want to have someone chase them and come forward, so they then can set them up for counters.
  4. 4. Aggression. I do look for aggressiveness, but as Harold often says on HBO, it has to be effective aggressiveness. If I just walk forward and follow you around the ring, I'm not doing much. If I move forward, cut the ring off and corner you so I can land, that's significant.
  5. 5. Defense. Picking off punches, moving your head, using your legs, all plays into it.
  6. 6. Impact. This sort of goes with power, but it can be more than power. If I'm effectively aggressive and you're wearying of trying to get away from me, that has a big impact on the fight. It may slow you down; punches you can avoid in Rounds 1-3 begin to land in Rounds 4-12 because you're being worn down. That's what I mean by impact and it's a small part of my scoring.

Bryan Dietz, boxing fan (Miami):

Bill Jessup, boxing fan (Gainesville):

  1. 1. Damage. Weather it is damage do to an accumulation of punches or just clean effective accurate punches. I generally give the round to the guy I felt dealt out the most damage.
  2. 2. Work rate. In my opinion there is a lot to be said for just out working the other guy in the ring.
  3. I also score each round on it's own merit and very rarely add up my score before the end of the fight. I do that because I don't want to influence my scoring of later rounds by knowing one fighter is ahead of the other on my card.

Kylan Johnson, boxing fan (Washington D.C.):


  1. Knockout
  2. Unanimous decision: all three judges score bout for same fighter
  3. Majority decision: two judges score bout for same fighter, third scores draw
  4. Split decision: two judges score bout for same fighter, third score it for the other
  5. Draw: two or more judges score bout a draw