How does boxing scoring work? Points system and results explained

Boxing has a habit of delivering scoring controversies, it’s an area of sport that makes it both great AND infuriating.

It was again front and centre recently when that Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk heavyweight blockbuster went to the scorecards in Riyadh – with Usyk prevailing by a wafer-thin split decision.

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So how does boxing scoring actually work? Let’s delve into the detail.

Boxing scoring explained

So if the bout – like Fury vs Usyk recently – is fought over 12 rounds this is how it works.

  • We have three ringside judges. Each will score the fight independently and provide a result at the end of the fight.
  • The key thing to point out here is that they score EVERY ROUND SEPARATELY. They don’t just decide who won at the end of the bout. When the bell sounds their scores for each of the 12 rounds are added up and the scores are then announced and the result confirmed. In essence every round is a separate fight…
  • Boxing judges score on what is called a ’10 point must system’. This means the fighter who wins a round scores 10 points for that rounds. If the round is not a landslide then it will generally be scored 10-9.
  • Judges can score a round even at 10-10 if they wish, though this seldom happens in major fights.
  • If one fighter scores a knockown and wins the round well, he or she will normally win it 10-8. If they score two knockdowns in the round then 10-7 through to a most decisive score of 10-6.
  • If a boxer fouls, or breaks the rules, the referee has the jurisdiction to remove a point from that boxer. For example due to repeated low blows, holding or punching behind the head. Disqualification is also an option in the case of persistent fouling.
  • If the referee does remove a point from a fighter he/she will make that clear during the fight to the judges.
  • Scores are secret or ‘closed’ until the final result is announced, so the fighters and corners have no idea whether their man or woman is really in front or not.
  • So for example, if we have a fight with no knockdowns or points removed, and Tyson Fury wins 8 of the 12 rounds and Usyk wins 4. Fury would likely win the bout 116-112 because he scores 8 x 10-point rounds and 4 x 9-point rounds.

Boxing results, including the draw, explained

So what are the various type of decisions that happen on the scorecards?

  • Unanimous decision – one fighter wins the fight on the scorecards of all three ringside judges.
  • Split decision – one fighter wins the fight on two scorecards, and loses the other.
  • Majority decision – one fighter wins the bout on two scorecards and the other is level.
  • Technical decision – If an accidental foul causes an injury which means the fight has to be stopped after more than 4 rounds, the scorecards at the time of the stoppage will determine the result.
  • Draw – this normally means two of the judges are split and the other has the fight even.
  • Majority Draw – if two of the three judges score the fight even.
  • No contest – If an accidental foul causes an injury which means the fight has to be stopped after less than 4 rounds, the bout is declared a no contest.