Boxing Rules (Amateur Boxing & Professional Boxing)


Boxing rules
Boxing rules

In boxing we have two different sets of boxing rules :

1.    Rules  for Amateur boxing matches, and
2.    Rules for professional boxing.

It is important to say that there are different types of boxing  rules for each type of boxing in different countries, not to mention that in the Olympics there is a different set of boxing rules that govern the sport.

Professional Boxing Rules & Amateur Boxing Rules

There are three differences in the rules of boxing that govern professional and amateur boxing.
1.    Number of rounds
2.    Duration ( time) of each round
3.    The way the referee decides each round

Weight Classes

There are nine weight classes, and the class of a boxer is determined by body weight. The nine weight classes are the following:
•    Straw weight,
•    Fly weight,
•    Bantam weight,
•    Feather weight,
•    Lightweight,
•    Welterweight,
•    Middleweight,
•    Light heavyweight,
•    Heavyweight.


The boxing match takes place in a square ring. The ring size for amateur matches is 16 – 20 square feet and for professional boxing is 16 to 24 square feet. Also the ring floor should have felt or foam rubber covered by canvas.
Boxer’s equipment

Before entering the ring the boxer should wrap his/her hands with cloth bandages, and then put on leather gloves. Note that in some US states, there are gloves without thumbs in order to reduce potential eye injury. Boxers wear trunks and boxing shoes. Finally a mouthpiece is worn in order to protect the teeth, and an athletic cup to protect the groin area from hits below the belt. The main difference between amateur and professional matches is that in amateur matches boxers wear protective head gear but not in professional fights.

Number of Rounds

Another major difference between amateur and professional boxing is the number of rounds and their duration. In professional matches the number of rounds is between 4 to 15 rounds, and last three minutes each with a one minute break between rounds. In amateur matches the number of rounds is three rounds and last three minutes each, or five rounds that last two minutes each.

Referee/ Timekeeper

In professional and amateur boxing matches are monitored by one referee who is the only person allowed inside the ring with the boxers during rounds. The duty of the referee is to ensure that both boxers fight by the rules, and if not then he can disqualify a boxer for serious violations of the rules, or deduct points for lesser violations. There are also judges that sit outside the ring and score the matches. In amateur matches there are five judges, and in professional matches there are two or three judges. A person known as the timekeeper is always present who signals a bell at the beginning and end of each round. Finally a physician is also required at sanctioned events.

Main Rules

•    There are some basic boxing rules and when a boxer breaks (it’s called foul) them then the referee gives a warning and then can deduct points for each foul and for many fouls the referee can get a boxer disqualified. Some main boxing rules are:
•    You cannot hit your opponent below the belt – or the belt line.
•    You cannot hit your opponent in the back of the head.
•    You cannot hit an opponent who is down.
•    You cannot hit an opponent who is on his knees, or even on one knee.
•     Kicking, tripping, holding, hitting an opponents eye with a thumb, wrestling, head butting, and hitting with the elbows, the forearm, or the inside of the glove is not allowed.

Deciding the winner

Before the fight starts each boxer is assigned a corner that he/she and his/her coaches and managers use between rounds. When a boxer is knocked down, the referee begins the count and if the boxer gets back up before the referee reaches the count of ten, the fight continues. In case when one boxer is knocked down, the other boxer must go to the farthest neutral corner.( note that the assigned corners are not neutral corners).

In some cases in professional boxing there is a mandatory eight count, which means that the fight cannot resume until the referee reaches a count of eight. On the other hand in amateur boxing , if a boxer is knocked down three times in one round, the other boxer wins on a TKO (technical knockout). Also if the referee reaches the ten-count after a knockdown, the other boxer wins.

Another way in deciding the winner is by points scored by the judges aka decision. In professional boxing a match can end in a draw meaning no declared winner, but that cannot happen in amateur boxing matches. The decision is based on a point system or a round system. The round system has the judges individually determining a winner after each round. At the end of the fight, the boxer who won the most rounds, as judged individually by the judges, wins the match.

On the other hand when using a point system, points are awarded based on performance. There are several different point systems, but the most commonly used is the 20 point system. Each judge awards the winner of a round twenty points, and the loser receives up to nineteen points for that round – based on his performance. If there was no determined winner, each boxer gets 20 points. At the end of the match, all the judges points are tallied, and the boxer with the most points wins.

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