Sport logo.

Articles: Boxing


Boxing is a fighting sport between two contestants of similar weight. The contestants’ main objective is to knock out the opponent, or to score more points, by punching each other using gloved fists. There are two separate levels to boxing: amateur and professional.

Boxing is one of the oldest sports still practiced today. Its origins can be traced back to Greek and Roman times. Although ironically, during the roman gladiator period, it was banned for being excessively brutal. Up until the early 19th century, there were no real rules for boxing - it was a free for all. The first rules, the London prize fighting rules, were established in 1838. What many consider to be the original rules of modern boxing where codified in 1867 by the famous marquis of Queensbury. During the late 19th century, moral issues were raised about the ethics of fighting for prize money; this led to a split in boxing between the professional levels that fought for money and the amateur levels that fought for the glory. The first fight for the title of the heavy weight champion of the world was in New Orleans in 1892 between “Gentleman” Jim Corbett and John L Sullivan. “Gentleman Jim” won and became the first heavy weight champion of the world.

The modern sport of boxing is split into amateur and professional levels. The amateur level has been an Olympic sport since the 1912 games, and is also included in the pan American and commonwealth games. Both men and women take part in amateur boxing, and it is the grassroots level for the professional level of the sport. Amateur boxing is popular in the USA, UK, Canada, Russia, Mexico, Cuba, and the Philippines.

The professional side of boxing has declined in popularity since the turn of the century, mainly due to the poor standards of the heavy weight division and the strong competition from other martial art disciplines. Despite this, the biggest fight in terms of revenue occurred in May 2015 between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather; the revenues for this fight were estimated at nearly half a billion dollars. The golden era of the game was in the second half of the last century, with many legendary boxers taking part in numerous legendary fights across all the different weight divisions.

The sport of boxing

Both men and women take part in boxing worldwide - although to ensure fairness, they are divided into separate weight classes, so that only people of similar size fight each other. The boxing match takes place in a ‘boxing ring’, which is actually a raised rectangular platform with a 1.5 meter post in each corner. Ropes are stretched between the four posts to create a rectangular arena; the sides of this rectangle vary from 4.9 to 7.6 meters in length.

The equipment used by boxers differs between the amateur and professional games. Amateurs wear a vest or singlet and shorts, while professionals only wear shorts. Both wear gloves, but amateur gloves are specifically designed to cushion the blows. Professional gloves can be much lighter than the amateur ones. The amateurs are required to wear padded head protection, but these are not allowed in the professional game. Both are required to wear mouth guards.

How a boxing match begins

Since boxing is a challenge between two individuals, several traditions govern how a match begins. As a rule, the challenger, or the lesser ranked boxer, always enters the ring first. For the duration of the fight, each boxer is assigned a corner of the ring for his use. The other two corners are considered neutral and are used at the direction of the referee. Since a boxing match is a succession of rounds of fighting, each round begins and ends with the ringing of a bell controlled by the official timekeeper.

The main rules of boxing

The rules of boxing are very similar between the amateur and professional games; however, there are some discrepancies between both regarding the duration of the bouts.

Bout and round times

Every boxing match is comprised of several rounds. As a general rule, the professional game is a 12 round bout; although bouts of 10, 8, 6, or 4 can be used. The amateur bouts are normally 3 rounds but occasionally, 4 can be used. Individual boxing rounds, whether amateur or professional, are generally 3 minutes in duration, with a one minute rest period between each round.

A typical boxing match is officiated by 4 officials: 3 outside the ring who score the rounds individually, and an in-ring referee who controls the bout and whose main responsibility is ensuring the safety of both boxers. At the end of the fight, if there is no winner by knockout or stoppage, the result is determined by the score cards of the three ringside referees.

The main objective in boxing is to knock out the opponent and win the fight. In order to achieve this, boxers can punch the opponent anywhere in the front upper torso and head - punching below the belt, the back of the head or the back and kidney areas is prohibited. If a boxer successfully knocks his opponent to the floor, the fallen boxer receives a ten second count by the referee in which to rise to his feet and be ready to fight. The referee may award a technical knockout if he sees that a boxer who has regained his footing is incapable of carrying on fighting, and letting him do so would jeopardize his safety. Additionally, at any point during the bout, the boxer’s team can forfeit the fight if they feel that their boxer’s safety would be in question. The team does this quite simply by throwing a towel into the boxing ring.

Basic flow of a boxing match and tactics

The basic flow of the game generally depends on the style of the fighters involved. As a rule, both boxers will initially try and feel out their opponent to find any weaknesses. This can then evolve into a battle of attrition, with the end goal of knocking out the opponent by wearing them out. On the other hand, the match can descend into a brutal brawl if both fighters’ styles are suited to that.

Boxers choose tactics that play to their physical or technical advantage over each opponent; boxers with a superior reach over the opponent will try and keep their distance and break down the opponent from a distance. Inversely, boxers with an inferior reach will try and ‘step inside’ their opponents reach, and turn it into a close range fight to prevent the opponent form using their reach advantage.

Expert counter punchers prefer to rely on their boxing skills to tactically pick off their opponents. They achieve this by using superior skill and technique to let the opponent strike. They then evade the punch, and unleash a flurry of counter blows or counter-punches.

Competitions and turning professional

There are many boxing bouts held at local, national, and international levels. These bouts, whether amateur or professional, are the grassroots of boxing and the gateway into the professional game for most amateur boxers. This is because most professional boxers start off as amateur boxers; as they evolve and improve, they then can choose to go pro. One of the most famous amateur boxer is Muhammad Ali, who turned pro after winning the Olympic light heavy weight gold medal at the Rome Olympics in 1960.

Professional boxing structure

The professional game is organized as a ladder ranking system. On top of the ladder for each weight class is the world champion. Contenders below the champion box each other to jockey for position on the ranking ladder to earn a chance of fighting the world champion for his title. Depending on the federation, the world champion is required to accept a minimum number of title defenses in a given time period or he will forfeit his title. Currently, there are four main bodies that organize the professional game; these are the World Boxing Federation (WBF), the World Boxing Council (WBC), the World Boxing Association (WBA), and the International Boxing Federation (IBF).

Boxing tournaments

The professional game does not have tournaments as such, but organized fight nights at different times year round. These fight nights normally have a headline fight and many minor bouts before it; these minor fights are called the “undercard”, and can be a great opportunity to watch great up and coming boxers who might be future world champions.

The amateur game is structured differently than the professional game, with many tournaments and competitions held around the world. The peak of these tournaments are the Olympics and other continental and commonwealth games. There has been many an Olympic champion who later went on to become a world champion, such as Muhammad Ali and Lennox Lewis.

Betting on Boxing

Boxing and betting have always gone hand in hand, with many options for punters to bet on. As a general rule, boxing uses the money line system of betting. The most popular bet in boxing is a straight up bet on the winner of a fight, or that a draw will result. Additionally, bets can be placed on whether a knock out will end the fight, and even at which round the knock out will occur. On top of that, since some bouts are perceived to be too one sided, bets can be placed on how many rounds the match will last before it ends; for example, less than 6 rounds or more than 6 rounds.