How to score fights

By Robert Ecksel on December 9, 2018
How to score fights
Boxing’s arcane scoring system is under the spotlight again. (Action Images via Reuters)

For those who’ve followed the sport religiously from time immemorial, the way fights are scored is an abomination…

There are several ways to win friends and influence people.

Explaining how fights are scored is not among them.

In the wake of Wilder/Fury, John Dillon of The Evening Standard attempts to explain boxing’s arcane scoring system. For those who’ve followed boxing from time immemorial the way fights are scored is an outrage. For initiates to the noble art unaccustomed to boxing’s methods, the way fights are scored is as confusing as ever, as dependable as a mop in a flash flood.

This is what the author wrote:

Boxing’s scoring system is under the spotlight again following the controversial draw between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.

The sport occasionally throws up such rows but considering how many fights take place around the world each week, the system usually works extremely well.

There will always be matters of each judges’ opinion involved in close contests although their verdicts can differ wildly—and be at odds with the opinion of managers, promoters, corner-men and spectators.

But in some cases a draw can turn out to deliver unexpected bonuses. For instance, there will now be huge interest in the potential re-match between Fury and Wilder.

Dolan’s guide as to how the system works is below…

1. The scoring is carried out by three ringside judges.
2. They operate what is known as a “10 must system.” This means that the fighter deemed the winner of each round is awarded 10 points with the loser usually receiving nine. However, rounds which are viewed as equal are scored 10-10.
3. Judges hand in a scorecard to the referee at the end of each round and they are then given to a ringside official.
4. At the finish of a 12-round fight which has gone the distance, the tallies of all three judges are added up to determine three “final scores.”
5. Hence if Fighter A has won eight of the rounds on by one judges’ reckoning and lost four, he will receive eight scores of 10 and four of nine – making a total of 80 plus 36 to make a final amount of 116.
6. Conversely, Fighter B must then have won only four rounds and lost eight, making a total of 40 plus 72, equalling 112.
7. If all three judges score it in favour of Fighter A, it is a Unanimous Decision win.
8.. If two judges score for Fighter A and one judge scores for Fighter B, then it is a Split Decision win for Fighter A.
9. If two judges score for Fighter A and one judge scores a draw then it is a Majority Decision win for Fighter A.
10. If all judges score a draw then it is a draw by Unanimous Decision.
11. If two judges score a draw and one judge scores for either boxer then it is a Majority Draw.
12. If, as in the case of Fury and Wilder, one judge scores for Fighter A, one judge scores for fighter B and one judge deems it a draw, then it is a Split Decision Draw.
13. Scores can vary from the usual 10-9 outcome. If Fighter A knocks down Fighter B, the round is scored 10-8 to Fighter A. If there is a second knockdown, it is scored 10-7.
14. Some state athletic commissions in the USA employ a three knockdown rule- meaning that a fighter will be declared to have been knocked out if he is knocked down for a third time in a round. However, the four major global commissions – WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO - do not apply this rule.
15. A fighter can also be deducted a point or two points in each round by the referee for persistent rule-breaking. There will usually be a warning first.
16. Some fights in Britain are scored solely by the referee.
17. The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) rules detail what aspects of a fighter’s performance in each round will determine the scoring.

Rule 3.31 says Points will be awarded:

For “attack” – direct clean hits with the knuckle part of the glove of either hand to any part of the front or side of the head or body above the belt.

The “belt” is defined as an imaginary line drawn across the body from the top of the hip bones.

For “defence” – guarding, slipping, ducking or getting away from an attack. Where contestants are otherwise equal the majority of points will be given to the one who does most leading off or displays the better style.

So there you have it, as simple as that…

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  1. Erect On Demand 05:46pm, 12/10/2018

    #3-Scorecard goes from judge to ref to ringside official at the end of each round?! #4-Who adds up the tallies?! “The better style”?!

  2. Thrashem 04:25pm, 12/10/2018

    I have seen fights where a fighter A is knocked down but fighter A clearly outpoints fighter B. This would be a 10-10 round.  I’d like to see more rounds scored even 10-10 where there is a lack of performance.
    There is way to much bias from judges and this should be not tolerated. Camacho use to get female judges votes due to his fashion statements.

  3. Lucas McCain 09:07am, 12/09/2018

    M-M:  we are in agreement on this !  Camera from above shows our thought-balloons merging!

  4. Lucas Mccain 09:05am, 12/09/2018

    The one traditional guideline that has long annoyed me (starting way back with Floyd Patterson vs Jerry Quarry), is the mandatory 10-8 award to a fighter who scores a knockdown.  To me, a knockdown is a dramatic moment that deserves an extra point or maybe two.  But a knockdown scored by A over B, when B has dominated the rest of the round should not be 10-8 for A.  Not only is the 3 point turnaround (9-10 to 10-8) excessive, but it also gives a mistaken (or biased) referee too much power over the final scoring.  It also doesn’t distinguish between a flash knockdown (catching a foe off balance) and a solid knockdown.

  5. Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers 08:56am, 12/09/2018

    I think a knockdown shouldn’t automatically give the fighter scoring the knockdown a 10-8 round, that is ridiculous. In the 9th round of the Fury-Wilder fight, Fury wasn’t hit flush or that hard and was clearly not shaken by the knockdown. You could even make a case for Fury winning that round, but it was scored 10-8. A fighter could dominate an entire round and still lose the round by two points because of a flash knockdown, which makes no sense whatsoever. The amateur game has it right as far as the knockdown rule, however, I think you should use common sense when it comes to scoring knockdowns.  The knockdown in the 12th round of the Fury-Wilder fight was the type of knockdown that does warrant a 10-8 round, even with Fury coming back in the end.

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