A Quick History Lesson
Boxing has come a long way since the days of bare-knuckle fighting. Now considered the “sweet science,” boxing has taken on a whole new form.

During the days of bare-knuckle boxing (in the 19th century), competitors had to be extremely accurate with their punches. One wrong move and they could wind up severely damaging their hands. Boxers of this era relied on defending themselves—blocking, slipping, countering and wrestling. The action of a fight tended to be slower paced with a lot of luring and drawing tactics. Boxers fought 20, 45, and even 75 round matches, and had to be conservative with their punches. They would pick their openings and fight in two and three punch bursts over the course of a fight.

With the introduction of gloved boxing in 1892, boxing made its first step toward modernization, although styles didn’t change right away. In general, boxers threw only two or three punches at a time. Parrying and countering were the fundamentals of boxing technique at the turn of the century.

Advances in footwork and defense began during the early 1900’s. With the hands better protected, a boxer did not have to fight so defensively, or be so cautious. Eventually boxers learned that skill could overcome a superior punch. By the 1920’s combination punching had become universal. Most of the best techniques were in place by this time, and only minor innovations occurred throughout the rest of the century.

Today, boxing is divided into amateur and professional. Overwhelmingly, boxers start as amateurs and later become professional boxers. The rules in each division are quite different. We have outlined these differences below.

Amateur Boxing vs. Professional Boxing
Land punches. The force of a strike or its effect on the opponent does not count.

A strike that knocks a boxer to the mat receives no more credit than any other strike. A knockdown is scored as a single blow and does not necessarily make the boxer a winner of that round.

Score points. Points are awarded based on a strike’s impact and effect on the opponent. Judges award points based on a fighter’s aggressiveness and technique. The knockdown or knockout is an objective in the pros. In rare cases, a fighter who scores a knockdown may lose the round.
Amateur boxing is under the jurisdiction of a single national governing body. USA Boxing, for example, has jurisdiction over the administration and rules of competition for amateur boxing in the United States.
No single governing body exists. Many state-controlled commissions have different sets of rules and guidelines.
Amateur boxing uses the same set of rules worldwide. USA Boxing’s rules comply with the international regulations. However, USA Boxing has more stringent safety guidelines.
There are various sanctioning bodies which all have their own set rules.
USA Boxing requires 10-ounce gloves for 106-156 Lb. boxers, 12-ounce gloves for 165 to 201+ Lb. boxers. Gloves used in the US must have the USA Boxing label.

All AIBA gloves are 10 ounce in weight, and must have the AIBA label. White area denotes striking surface—this aids judges in scoring. Must be thumb-attached or thumbless.

Gloves are specially designed to absorb shock.

8 and 10 oz. gloves, depending on jurisdiction.

No striking surface is indicated.

Gloves are designed to transmit force.

Headgears are mandatory in the U.S. and in major international competitions.
Headgears are prohibited.
Form-fitted mouthpieces are required and must be worn at all times.
Certain states, but not all, require mouthpieces in pro fights.
If a boxer becomes injured, the referee stops the sparring and the boxer consults the on-site physician in his corner. The continuation of the bout is determined by the physician; the physician’s decision to stop or continue a match is binding.

The criteria for stopping bouts due to injury are strict. Lacerations or swelling which impair vision will cause a bout to be stopped.

Under some rules, it is the same.

A fighter will continue to fight even if his or her eye is swollen shut or if a cut around the eye, nose or mouth is bleeding.

A strike counts for scoring only if the knuckle surface is used; slapping, etc., is not allowed nor does it count for points.

The striking area is limited to the front and side of the head and body, above the waist.

Fouls (unfair or dangerous tactics, hitting outside of the striking area) lead to warnings and point penalties. Disqualification after 3 warnings.

Fighters are warned only if they have performed a harmful foul (below the belt, etc).
Given to a boxer in difficulty, standing eight counts allow the referee to evaluate the condition of a boxer. For men, the bout is stopped after 3 eight-counts in a round or 4 in total. The cumpulsory count limit for females is one less than men.
Usually do not exist in professional boxing.
Referee will stop the bout if a boxer is out-classed.
Referee is authorized to stop the fight. Due to financial and TV arrangements however, fights are rarely stopped.
Physicals are mandatory before and after a bout. In a tournament, the boxer has an initial physical and then before and after each bout for each day of competition.
Professional physicals range from cursory to substantial before the fight, depending on the state requirements. Typically no physical takes place after the fight, unless a fighter obviously needs medical attention.
Tops are mandatory for males and females. They assist the judges in identifying the boxers. Tops also absorb sweat, blood and dirt.
Tops are prohibited for males. Female pro fighters usually only box in a sports bra-type top (not a singlet).
Four 2-minute rounds with 1-minute break in between for Open Division males; three 2-minute rounds for women. Shorter rounds for novices and boxers under 17.
Vary considerably. From four rounds of 3 minutes up to twelve rounds of 3 minutes.
If you would like information on how to become an amateur or professional boxer, email us at info@BoxingSource.com
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