Boxing rules

Boxing is a contact form of martial arts in which athletes punch each other with their hands in special gloves. Let’s consider the basic rules of boxing, namely the rules of professional boxing in the modern ego form.

Boxing rules. Basics

The goal in boxing is to win by hitting the opponent’s head and body. In other words, the athletes intend to hit the target with their hands and will not miss in return. Boxers fight in the ring wearing special gloves.


The ring is a special platform for boxing matches. The ring has a square shape, it is surrounded by four rows of ropes 2.5 to 3 centimeters thick, which are stretched at a height of 40, 80 and 130 centimeters from the floor between four corner posts. Each corner post is covered with a pillow 20 cm wide and about 5 cm thick.

The exact characteristics of the ring vary depending on the sanctioning body. And the length of one side is from 4.9 m to 7.6 m. The pillars in the corner are at a height of 1.5 m above the level of the ring, and the ring itself is usually located at a height of approximately 1-1.2 m on a special platform.


Boxing rules imply that athletes must box in special gloves. Boxing gloves were first used during a boxing match at the end of the 19th century (1985).

Gloves are weighted in ounces. One ounce equals 28.35 g. Professional boxers box in 8-ounce and 10-ounce gloves. Boxers up to welterweight wear 8-ounce gloves, and boxers in heavier divisions up to super-heavyweight fight in 10-ounce gloves.

The rules of Olympic boxing state that amateur fights are held in 10-ounce gloves.

Rules of victory in boxing

Boxing rules distinguish several options for victory. A boxer can win in different ways.


The fight is stopped if one of the boxers fell on the canvas of the ring, missed a punch, and could not get up before the end of the referee’s count. The referee counts to 10, if the boxer could not get up during this time, the fight is stopped. Boxing rules oblige referees to count to 8 in any case to give the boxer time to recover. Even if the boxer stands up after the knockdown and is ready to fight further, the referee must count to 8, and only then can he give the opportunity to the boxers to continue the fight.

Technical knockout (TKO)

There are several options for a technical knockout. If the boxer gets to his feet after a missed blow before the end of the count, but visually looks shaken, the referee can intervene and stop the fight after assessing the boxer’s condition.

Also, a technical knockout is awarded if the seconds threw a towel from the corner during the round, signaling the withdrawal of their fighter from the fight.

TKO is awarded if the athlete cannot continue the fight due to injury. Also, the doctor can intervene and take care of the boxer, if he sees that the injuries on his face (cuts, hematoma) can harm his health.

The rule of three knockdowns

In some states in the USA, the rules of boxing include the rule of three knockdowns. If a boxer has been knocked down three times during one round, the fight is stopped and he is awarded a defeat by technical knockout (TKO).

The rule of three knockdowns also applies in Olympic boxing. The rule of Olympic boxing provides not only the rule of three knockdowns per round, but also the rule of four knockdowns per fight. If during the entire match the boxer was knocked down 4 times, then he is counted as an early defeat.

A knockdown is when the boxer was on the cover (fell, took a knee) after a missed punch. The rules of boxing also call a knockdown the case when the fighter did not fall from a missed blow, but the ropes saved him from falling.

Refusal to continue the fight during the break between rounds (RTD)

If the corner did not release his boxer or the boxer himself refused to go to the next round during the break, then RTD is counted as a defeat. If the corner took out his fighter during the round, then it is a TKO defeat.

Victory on points

In professional boxing, a fight lasts from 4 to 12 rounds. Beginning professional boxers usually hold 4, 6 or 8 rounds. Experienced boxers box for 10 rounds, and championship fights last for 12 rounds. Rounds last 3 minutes.

If the fight went the entire distance, then three side judges determine which of the boxers was more effective. The judge evaluates each round, paying attention to the number of accurate punches, activity and quality of punches. Initially, boxers have 10 points each. After each round, the judges decide who was the best. And the point is deducted from the fighter who was, according to the judge, worse in the round. The round is counted as 10-9 in favor of the boxer who won the round. If one of the boxers scored a knockdown, then he won the round with a score of 10-8, if two knockdowns, then 10-7, etc.

Usyk wins on points

Types of judicial decisions:

  • Unanimous decision of judges (UD). When all three judges gave victory to one boxer.
  • Separate decision of the judges. When two judges gave victory to one boxer, and the third judge to the other (SD)
  • Decision of the majority of judges. When two judges gave victory to one boxer, and the third judge gave a draw (MD)
  • A draw. A draw can be declared in two cases. If two judges scored a draw, or when one judge scored a draw, and two judges awarded victory to different boxers
  • Technical solution (TD). Points are counted early if one of the fighters is unable to continue the fight due to unintentional circumstances. For example, if, after the 3rd round, one of the boxers has a cut after an unintentional collision of heads and the boxer cannot continue the fight because of this, then the fight is stopped and the referee’s decision is announced.

In some non-championship professional fights, fights can be judged by one person. In such cases, the match referee not only monitors the boxers inside the ring, but also scores after each round.

Victory by disqualification

If one of the boxers systematically or grossly violates the rules, he may be disqualified.

In boxing, kicks, elbows, head kicks, back kicks, kicks below the waist, back kicks, kidney kicks are not allowed. You cannot push, grab, or throw your opponent. As a rule, for violating the rules, the referee gives a warning and can deduct a point, and if the boxer continues to violate the rules, he will be disqualified. But also a boxer can be immediately disqualified for breaking the rules without prior warning.

No contest (recognition of the fight as unsuccessful)

The fight can be declared a failure in some cases during or after the fight. If the case described above with an inadvertent collision of heads takes place before the 3rd round, the fight is considered a failure.

Also, the fight can be considered not to have taken place after the fact if one of the boxers fails a doping test after the fight.

Frequently asked questions about boxing rules

What are championship rounds in professional boxing?

These are the 11th and 12th rounds in the championship fights. However, in the post-Soviet space there is a misconception that the 10th round is also considered the championship.

Are championship rounds valued more than ordinary rounds?

Another common misconception among commentators and fans is that the judges, when making a decision, give preference to the boxer who looked better in the championship rounds. According to the rules, the judge must evaluate each round separately from the previous or subsequent rounds, and then, having summed up all the rounds, issue a final score.

What is the rule of 3 knockdowns?

When a fighter has been knocked down 3 times in just one round, the fight is stopped and he is awarded a TKO defeat. However, this rule does not apply in all states.