Boxing Rules and the History Behind Them - Combat Sport Events

Boxing Rules and the History Behind Them

As a Boxing fan, I am sure you are already familiar with the general rules of boxing. However, if you were as curious as I was about the history behind them then continue to read.

Boxing like many sports has an enormous rule book that could honestly fill several pages alone. So if you just want a rundown of the general rules then scroll to the bottom of the article. However, if you are interested in how the rules of boxing came to be then in this article we will reveal all.

Marques of Queensbury

As the world’s most ancient sport, boxing has been part and parcel of modern man’s culture for centuries. Its origins can be traced back to the ancient Olympic Games of 688 BC, at a time when the sport was rudimentary and less regulated than its modern iterations. The first rules of boxing were established as early as in the 1500s, but 1743, 1838, and 1867 brought more structure to the sport via Broughton’s rules, the Marquess of Queensbury Rules, and the London Prize Ring rules respectively.

Boxing is a sport that showcases the human body and its ability to move gracefully, dodge rapidly, and attack with impressive strength. The sport pits the most physically adept sportsmen against each other in a battle of physical mettle, mental fortitude, stamina, and creativity.

The Goal of Boxing

Ali Standing over opponent

In a boxing match, each fighter has one aim: to disable their opponent by means of concussion. The goal of the sport can nevertheless take several other definitions.

In some circles, the goal of boxing is to hit and avoid being hit, while others regard it as a game where the last man standing wins. Fighters such as Floyd Mayweather can demonstrate the sweet science of hit and not being hit, while fighters such as Micky Ward prefer to stand toe to toe and slug it out.

The Participants

Mike Tyson (R) throws a punch against Trevor Berbick
LAS VEGAS – NOVEMBER 22,1986: Mike Tyson (R) throws a punch against Trevor Berbick during the fight at Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mike Tyson won the WBC heavyweight title by a TKO 2. (Photo by: The Ring Magazine/Getty Images)

Boxers are ranked first by their weight, then by their performance in their specified weight class. This allows for parity in the sport. Physical size is extremely important in the sport of boxing since matching heavier fighters with lighter opponents creates a physical handicap that takes away the element of fairness. There are several weight classes in boxing which I will discuss in another article here.

The Gear

old boxing gloves

Modern boxers wear gloves although earlier iterations of the sport allowed boxers to fight bare-knuckled. Gloves were added to prevent damage to the knuckles and lacerations to the face. Some argue that they are counter-intuitive, however, because they can increase the extent of damage caused by a punch.

Today, gloves are available from 8oz, 12oz, 140z, 16oz and even 20oz variants. The gloves you wear competing depend on the weight you fight at. For example, in professional boxing, 147lbs and underwear 8oz competing while 147lbs and over wear 10oz gloves.

Hand wraps are also used under the gloves. These are checked by the commission before each fight and signed to make sure each boxer is following the rules of boxing. Fighters use various techniques and materials including gauze and tape before fights to protect the knuckles and wrist. While training fighters will use generic cotton hand wraps.

The Ring

Boxing ring

A boxing ring is not round, but square. It can measure anywhere between 16 and 25 feet on each side and has a post at every corner. Each post is around 5 feet higher than the ring, which is usually a platform raised to about 4 feet off the ground. Different rings have different specifications these days. It all depends on the regulatory body in charge of the sport.

The Match

Old boxing drawing

A professional boxing match can vary from 4 rounds to 12 rounds depending on your skill level. A new professional will have several fights building up his/her’s experience fighting in lesser rounds until they eventually reach 10 rounds. 12 rounds are usually championship rounds.

These 12 three minute rounds broken up by 1-minute breaks between each round. Boxers are allowed to attack each other using closed-fist punches only.

Punching below the belt is not allowed. This also applies to kidney shots and punches to the neck and the back of the head. Low blows are quite devastating, and players may take up to five minutes to recover from them.

Using the ropes to leverage blows is not allowed, and once a boxer goes down, their opponent cannot hit them. A boxing match can be ruled as a no contest if the fighters cannot continue before four rounds are completed. This is only applicable when an unintentional foul brings proceedings to a halt.


Floyd Mayweather vs Canelo

Professional boxing matches are adjudicated by three judges sitting ringside. The judges subjectively evaluate the fighters’ performances to determine who wins each individual round.

Many boxing matches end in knockouts (whereby one opponent is knocked down and unable to continue after a 10-count issued by the referee), while some end in disqualification and retirement.

However, in the event that none of the boxers is floored by the end of the 12 rounds, the score is determined by the judges’ scorecards. A boxer can only win unanimously if all three judges agree on the decision.

A match is considered a draw if two judges call it a draw, or if one judge calls it a draw while the other two judges give opposing scores. When two judges agree that one fighter has won, the decision sways their way although this is referred to as a split decision.

A fighter may be disqualified outright by the referee for a foul play. A fighter may also succumb to a TKO (technical knockout) which is when they are knocked unconscious or decide to retire after a heavy blow. Technical knockouts also apply when one fighter is floored by their opponent at least three times in one round.


Usyk holding belts

The winner of a boxing match is usually decided by the judges sitting ringside, a TKO, or a disqualification. In amateur boxing matches, judges use electronic evaluation devices to count the number of blows each boxer lands, then analyze this information to decide the winner.

Conclusion and Summary of Rules

  • Each fighter is weighed in the day before to ensure fighters are the same weight.
  • Each fighter wears a size of gloves based on their weight class.
  • They both fight in a boxing ring between 16 and 25 feet on each side.
  • Fights can be from 4 rounds up to 10 rounds.
  • Title fights are 10-12 3 minute rounds (male) and 10-12 2 minute rounds (female) broken up by 1-minute breaks.
  • Punching below the belt, kidney shots, punches to the neck and the back of the head are all disallowed.
  • Turning your back on an opponent is not allowed also.
  • Low blows are quite devastating, and a fighter may take up to five minutes to recover from them.
  • A fight can end in a decision made by the judges through a scoring system or by knockout or technical knockout in which a fighter doesn’t get up before the ref’s 10-count.
  • Fights can also be scored a draw by the judges.

Be sure to check out our other articles on Boxing such as Boxing history.

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