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15 NOVEMBER 2018


PART FOUR: YOU BE THE BOXING JUDGE! - Judging professional boxing for the TV boxing fan

By Tom Kaczmarek

SCORING SYSTEM: The 10 Point Must System: If there is a controversy about the decision in a fight, it is usually as a result of the way the scoring criteria is applied against the 10 Point Must System by the judges. If the judges or the folks out there scoring fights while they're watching television lack the opportunity to attend training sessions where the elements involved in the 10 Point Must System are reviewed and discussed, in order to clarify each aspect involved, consistency in scoring will be diminished. Another factor involved is the concentration level of the person scoring the fight while applying the elements of the 10 Point Must System to the action in the ring as it develops during the round. This is a very important factor. If the judge's attention is diverted momentarily from the action in the ring, it could reek havoc with the way the round will be scored.

First, I'll review the 10 Point Must System in general and then discuss some of the important factors in more detail.

In the 10 Point Must System, the winner of a round must receive 10 points. The loser is awarded from 9 to as few as 6 points in a round, although a 10 - 6 round rarely occurs. 10 points are awarded to the fighter who wins the round based upon clean punching, affective aggressiveness, ring generalship, defense, and, of course, by scoring the highest quality and quantity of blows. Points are also deducted from a fighter if he is knocked down in a round or penalized. No two rounds are alike. Because of the nature of boxing, with the amount of punches thrown during a round and all the other elements involved when two fighters square off against each other, it is impossible for two rounds to be alike. With this in mind, we have to look at the 10 Point Must System, and adjust the scores according to what has happened in the round.


The vast majority of rounds you watch and score will ultimately be scored 10 - 9. A round where the winner of the round maintains anywhere from a close margin to a definite margin will end up 10 - 9. In a 10 - 9 round, the action may be furious or it may be slow. The action may swing back and forth, with one fighter having an edge, only to see the other fighter come back, or the round may be slow-paced with neither fighter doing much. In any event, regardless of the pace, the fighter who maintains anywhere from a close to a definite margin wins the round by a 10 - 9 score.

Now let's take what would ordinarily be scored a 10 - 9 round (close to definite margin) and add another ingredient, the knockdown. A knockdown in boxing is like a home run in baseball. It doesn't happen often, and when it does, it has a huge impact on the score. A knockdown can change the course of the fight. Often what may appear to be a less than damaging knockdown, where the fighter does not appear to be badly hurt, has lasting impact. We can't underestimate the effect of a knockdown.

The following incident took place in a recent championship bout. The challenger suffered what appeared to be a "flash" knockdown in round one. He was up quickly, and his head seemed clear, following the mandatory 8-count. He appeared unaffected, and he fought gamely to the end of the round. He suffered several more knockdowns in later rounds and eventually lost by TKO in round six. In the post-fight interview, he stated, "I have no excuses. He's the champion. He caught me in the first round and I don't think I ever fully recovered". What appeared to be a less-than-damaging knockdown in round one altered the course of the fight.

A fighter may bounce up and continue to fight, but he may not be aware of what's happening--he may be fighting on instinct. There have been fighters who, as a result of being knocked down, have no recollection of events before and after the knockdown. Therefore, in order to properly reward the fighter scoring the knock down, the round should be scored 10 - 8. Occasionally there may be a round where the fighter who was knocked down was dominating the round before the knockdown and makes a strong recovery after the knockdown. He could narrow the gap 10 - 9. Much depends on the impact of the knockdown punch and the time elapsed. Remember---anything can happen in a fight! There are occasions where one fighter may totally dominate his opponent, having hurt him badly, and be on the verge of a knockout only to be the victim of a flash knockdown himself. Unhurt, he gets up, takes the mandatory 8-count, and continues to bombard his foe until the round ends. He could indeed win the round 10 - 9. But this scenario is extremely rare.

The great majority of rounds involving a knockdown, probably 95 percent, should be scored 10 - 8. More often than not, the fighter who scored the knockdown is in fact dominating the round. Additionally, the knockdown punch itself offsets many punches delivered by the other fighter.

A knockdown can change the course, and ultimately the outcome, of the fight.

Normally, if the fighter scores two knockdowns, the round would be scored 10 - 7, reflecting a greater edge because of the two knockdowns. Many variations could occur during the heat of battle. Sometimes both fighters go down in the same round. If the round is very close, neither fighter has a decided edge, and the knock downs appeared to have the same impact, the round may be scored even, 10 - 10. If, however, one fighter wins the round by a close to definite margin, he wins the round 10 - 9, since the knockdowns offset each other. The judge must rely on his knowledge and experience to evaluate the action and score the round accordingly.

Another example of applying good scoring technique is when a fighter dominates a round but does not score a knockdown. He batters his opponent throughout the round, perhaps hurting him, staggering him, but not flooring him. Such a round should be scored 10 - 8. By scoring the round 10 - 8, the judge acknowledges the difference between a closer round scored 10 - 9, where there may have only been a slight advantage. The same theory applies to round where a boxer takes a "standing" 8-count. (If a standing 8-count is in effect during a fight, this allows the referee to stop the action when one of the fighters has been hurt, visibly shaken, but not knocked down, and give the fighter an 8 count.) If you recall, when we were discussing the various scoring systems, some of the disadvantages of the pure round system in scoring was that the fighter could not receive credit for rounds where he dominated, or scored knockdowns, placing him at a disadvantage when the final scores are computed. The 10 Point Must System provides an opportunity to properly identify the winner of the round as well as the margin by which he won the round. In the 10 Point Must System, by using the available criteria, even rounds should be eliminated. This is not to say that there are no even rounds. On a rare occasion an even round may be justified, but they are normally few and far between.







All Rights Reserved

Book Copyright 1996 by Tom Kaczmarek

Electronic Copyright 2002 Murphy/Rector Communications, Inc.


or call (201) 986-0902.

For more information contact Tom Kaczmarek at:



Tom Kaczmarek, an ex-boxer and current international professional boxing judge, is Chairman of the World Boxing Council Ring Officials Board and a member of the Ring Officials Committee of the North American Boxing Federation. He was inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994, and the Elizabeth Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002. Kaczmarek has judged over 1500 professional bouts, including major world championship fights in the United States, Mexico, Europe, Asia, and Australia. He has conducted training seminars for judges for the World Boxing Council (WBC); the New York State Athletic Commission; the International Boxing Federation (IBF); the State of Connecticut Boxing Commission; the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Boxing Commission; the North American Boxing Federation (NABF); the Washington, D.C. Boxing Commission; the New Jersey State Athletic Commission; the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Commission Athletic Unit; the Edmonton, Alberta Boxing Commission; and the International Professional Ring Officials Association (IPRO).



Tommy Kaczmarek has been a resident of Brick, New Jersey for the last sixteen years. He retired from the State of New Jersey Violent Crimes Compensation Board in 1991 where he was Commissioner for 18 years and Chairman for 5 years. He is a licensed professional boxing judge in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Michigan, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Boxing Commission, and the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Commission Athletic Unit. Although Mr. Kaczmarek is a boxing official for each of the above Commissions, all of the views, opinions, and/or recommendations contained herein are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Michigan, Mashantucket, and Mohegan Commissions.

All readers are strongly cautioned that the information contained herein is not intended to, and never should, substitute for the necessity of seeking the advice of a qualified medical, legal, or financial professional whenever a boxer or his/her representatives have specific questions regarding the best course of action that a boxer should take. Furthermore, since it is possible that general information herein may pertain only to a law, regulation, rule or acceptable standard of practice for a particular jurisdiction, a boxer or his/her representatives must always inquire with the appropriate licensing jurisdiction to determine the applicable laws, regulations, rules, and acceptable standards of practice for each jurisdiction.

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