10 Point System

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Boxing_judge10 point system

The 10-Point System was first introduced in 1968 by the World Boxing Council (WBC) as a rational way of scoring fights.[1] It was viewed as such because it allowed judges to reward knockdowns and distinguish between close rounds, as well as rounds where one fighter clearly dominated their opponent. Furthermore, the subsequent adoption of this system, both nationally and internationally, allowed for greater judging consistency, which was something that was sorely needed at the time.[1] There are many factors that inform the judge's decision but the most important of these are: clean punching, effective aggressiveness, ring generalship and defence. Judges use these metrics as a means of discerning which fighter has a clear advantage over the other, regardless of how minute the advantage. *

The Evolution of the 10-Point System[edit]

Modern boxing rules were initially derived from the Marquess of Queensbury rules which mainly outlined core aspects of the sport, such as the establishment of rounds and their duration, as well as the determination of proper attire in the ring such as gloves and wraps[2]. These rules did not, however, provide unified guidelines for scoring fights and instead left this in the hands of individual sanctioning organizations. This meant that fights would be scored differently depending on the rules established by the governing body overseeing the fight. It is from this environment that the 10-Point System was born. The 10 point system was first introduced in 1968 by the WBC as a rational way of scoring fights.[1] It was viewed as such because it allowed judges to reward knockdowns and distinguish between close rounds and rounds where one fighter clearly dominated their opponent.[1] The adoption of this system, both nationally and internationally, established the foundation for greater judging consistency in professional boxing.[1]msndl

How the System Works[edit]

In the event in where a winner of a bout cannot be determined by a knockout, technical knockout, or disqualification, the final decision rests in the hands of three ringside judges approved by the commission. The three judges are usually seated along the edge of the boxing ring, separated from each other. The judges are forbidden from sharing their scores with each other or consulting with one another [2]. At the end of each round, judges must hand in their scores to the referee who then hands them to the clerk who records and totals the final scores[2]. Judges are to award 10 points (less any point deductions) to the victor of the round and a lesser score (less any point deductions) to the loser. The losing contestant's score can vary depending on different factors.

Points Breakdown[edit]

In general, scores of 10/10 are rare and only awarded in rounds where both contestants are judged to be so closely matched that there is no clear winner. Judges are usually advised against giving even scores as they must at all times be able to identify the advantage(s) each contestant has over their opponent.[3] Scores of 10/9 are awarded in closely contested rounds, where the winner effectively outboxes their opponent.[4] This is to be done regardless of how small of an advantage the winner has over the loser.[3] Furthermore, it is not enough for judges to simply award a 10/9 round, they must also know the degree to which the 10/9 round was won. A 10/9 round can be “close”, “moderate” or “deceive".[3] Scores of 10/8 are generally awarded in rounds where one fighter outboxes his/her opponent and also scores a knockdown. This score can also be awarded in rounds where the winner does not score a knockdown but wins a deceive 10/9 round.[4] 10/7 scores are awarded in rounds where one fighter outboxes his/her opponent and also scores two knockdowns.[4] And finally, 10/6 scores are awarded in rounds where one fighter outboxes his/her opponent and scores more than two knockdowns.[4] It’s important to note that this score is not always given, as some boxing associations will have a three knockdown rule[2]. It is equally important to note that unofficial televised punch statistics, such as the number of jabs thrown and landed, power punches thrown and landed, or body shots thrown and landed are neither available nor taken into consideration by judges when scoring rounds[2].

Concentration of Judges[edit]

Concentration is an essential skill in the process of judging fights.[1] The judge must closely observe the actions of both fighters while simultaneously keeping count of the number of punches thrown, landed, and missed.[1] They must also be aware of the caliber of landed punches, which is to say their effects on the opponent as well as the movement of fighters around the ring and the physical state and conditioning of fighters at all times during the round.[1] In order to effectively do this, Judges are trained to block out any and all distractions that might divert their attention away from the fighters. Judges are also instructed to focus their gaze at a neutral point between both fighters and avoid concentrating on one fighter as this would hinder their ability to see the “scoring tactics” of the other fighter.[3]

Judging Consideration[edit]

There are four essential factors taken into consideration by judges when scoring a round. They are: clean punching, effective aggressiveness, ring generalship, and defence.[1]

Clean Punching[edit]

Being that boxing is a combative sport, offensive clean punching is a key factor that judges look for when scoring bouts.[1] It is for this reason that the knockout is the highest achievement of the boxer during the fight and why the knockdown is held at such high regard by judges.[1] To win the fight on the scorecards, the professional boxer must not only land more clean punches than their opponent, they must also control the pace of the fight.[1] Clean punches can be defined as punches landed without being blocked, deflected, or redirected on permitted sections of the body. Permitted sections of the body includes the front or side of the head and body, excluding all areas below the belt.[1] By controlling the pace of the fight, the dominant opponent is initiating the action.

Effective Aggressiveness[edit]

Judges are trained to distinguish between determination and effective aggressiveness.[3] The difference between the two is that determination is simply a fighter’s willingness to continue to move forward regardless of whether or not they sustain hits in the process, or whether their own punches land or miss. Effective aggressiveness, on the other hand, means initiating the action (attacking first) and controlling the tempo of the fight while simultaneously blocking and evading punches.[3] Moreover, for aggressiveness to be considered effective, landed punches must also be damaging to the opponent. This is to say they must cause cuts, swelling, redness, shortness of breath, or fatigue.[1] It is also important to note that the damage caused by certain shots is not always immediately visible.[1] This is especially true for body shots. In an effort to measure this, judges will often engage in quantity-quality analysis, where they try to distinguish between light punches and powerful punches landed by each fighter. In general, light punches are those punches delivered in rapid succession and powerful punches are those punches that cause extreme damage such as uppercuts, straight right/lefts, and heavy-handed hooks.[1] Even though in most cases judges award the fight to the fighter who throws and lands more punches, it is also the case that judges will factor in the perceived impact of landed punches and give the edge to the fighter landing more damaging shorts.[1]

Ring Generalship[edit]

In essence, ring generalship refers to the use of manoeuvres other than punching power and punching volume as a means of controlling the fight.[1] This means using agility, footwork, feinting, head, and body movements to limit the opponent’s strengths, disrupt their game plan, and keep them out of their comfort zone.[1] Another use of ring generalship is to set up an effective attack, which often means setting up combinations.[1] The main instrument used to achieve this is the jab.[1]


In many ways, defence can be viewed as a segment of ring generalship as it allows the fighter to disrupt their opponent’s game plan, limit the damage of the opponent’s punches, and provide opportunities for counter attacks.[1] Even though good defence does not out weigh good offence, in close fights where no fighter has an upper hand, superior defence plays a huge factor in determining a winner.[1] There is a multitude of possible defensive tactics available to the fighter with some more impactful than others. Defensive tactics such as running, holding and clinching are not considered effective as they are usually desperate attempts to avoid the opponent’s attack and are subject to penalty if overused.[1]. What judges consider as good defence is the use of arms and shoulders to block or deflect punches, the use of head movement to bob and weave, slip punches, and the effective use of footwork to create distance.[1]

Benefits of the system

The System's principal benefit is its simplicity, in so far as it ensures that the winner of any round is given the ten points and the opponent is given nine or less (each minus any point deductions). If a judges' decision is required to determine the outcome of bout, then it is in theory easy to tabulate the total number of points and declare the winner in a timely manner.

Recently, the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) adopted the 10-point scoring system after the previous computer punch-count system was deemed to credit punch volume rather than the ten-point must system which credits technique and ring generalship. The punch-count system had originally been introduced following Roy Jones JR.'s loss in the Seoul Olympics 1988.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 Tom., Kaczmarek, (1996). You be the boxing judge! : judging professional boxing for the TV boxing fan. Pittsburgh, Pa.: Dorrance Pub. Co. ISBN 0805939032. OCLC 39257557. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Lee, Herbert K.H; Cork, Daniel.L; Algranati, David.J (2002). "Did Lennox Lewis Beat Evander Holyfield?: Methods for Analysing Small Sample Interrater Agreement Problems". Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. series D ( the statistician) (51(2)): 129-146.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 "Ring officials certification program". Association of Boxing Commissions. 2018. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "ABC Regulatory Guidelines". Association of Boxing Commissions. 2005. Retrieved 2018-11-21.

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