How to score boxing bout
Bobby Mayne, author of The Art of Boxing: Your Guide to the Sweet Science

Many factors influence the judges scoring during a bout. They may have preferred boxing styles and tactics that influence the awarding of points, some may favour technical skills whilst others have a preference for power. This is one of the reasons three judges are seated strategically at separate vantage points around the ring to view bout from different angles to score.

I have judged many professional boxing, Muay Thai and MMA bouts which use a similar scoring criteria. I will attempt to explain the scoring criteria and process used in scoring rounds over the following two articles. Also, having trained boxers at all levels, I have managed to apply the criteria into tactics that may influence the judging panel:

1. Clean Scoring Punches
2. Ring Generalship
3. Defence
4. Effective Aggression

1. Clean Scoring Punches

Accurate and effective punching on the legal scoring area, bodyweight is required:

  • Breaking through an opponent’s defence and score solidly,
  • Moving opponent with force from punch e.g. Snapping back head from a Jab, opponent’s reaction from a body punch and effecting their balance, scoring a knockdown,
  • Punches leaving welts and bruising to the body and face as well as facial cuts.

2. Ring Generalship

Skills shown to dominate an opponent during a round:

  • Effective footwork, moving in and out of range to score and evade attacks,
  • Tactics to dominate an opponent and control the action of the bout e.g. control the centre of the ring, cutting off the size of the ring restricting opponent’s movements, keeping opponent trapped in the ring corner and on the ropes,
  • Outboxing opponent with effective feints and counterpunching skills.

3. Defensive Skills

Skills such as blocking, parrying, slipping, bobbing and weaving against punches, footwork and lateral movement knowing when to momentarily hold an opponent to restrict arm movement and effect balance, this tactic is commonly known as a clinch.

Excessive holding or continual retreating to avoid contact is not a good defence and may receive a warning or point deduction from the referee. A good defence alone does not score points but it does restrict an opponent to score and create opportunities for the defending boxer to score with their own counterpunches.

4. Effective Aggression

Consistently scoring while moving forward, a judge will favour the boxer controlling the round by ‘outboxing’ or keeping the fight at a distance and initiating the punching exchanges.

  • Judges look for effective aggression, where the aggressor consistently lands punches and avoids those from his opponent.
  • Taking the fight up to the opponent, making opponent retreat and making the statement of always landing the last punch in an exchange leaves a lasting impression when a judge is scoring the round.

Part 2 is coming soon. You may also like: Five tips how to improve your boxing combos skills.

Bobby Mayne
Bobby Mayne is the Head Coach at Boxrite Boxing Club and author of several boxing coaching books including the bestselling "The Art of Boxing: Your Guide to the Sweet Science". Mayne has been involved in boxing since 1981. He has trained professional boxers such as Australian Daniel Dawson to compete at the world level, becoming a world contender and ultimately the WBF World Superwelterweight Champion. He also assisted in the training of top boxers from the Philippines including Rey Megrino and Rey Loreto, who were both successful in winning their respective WBC Regional and WBO World Flyweight titles.