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

By Tom Kaczmarek

CONCENTRATION: Absolute concentration is a fundamental element of judging. Judging a fight is one of the most difficult and demanding forms of officiating in any of the professional sports. It is a demanding skill requiring total concentration for the full three minutes of every round.

A professional boxing judge most closely observe two fighters (and a total of 4 gloved fists), and he must simultaneously compute the total number of punches thrown, the quantity of hits and misses, the quality of punches, the effect on the fighters, and their movement and condition. There is an awful lot going on at the same time. While making these observations, during rapid-fire action in the ring, he must implement the 10 Point Must System: Not an easy task. In order to fully understand how to use the system, you must make a study of all the fundamental elements of judging a fight.

In order to do this there are certain things that are necessary. You've got to have some understanding of the sport. You can develop this if you've been a student of the sport and watched many fights. You'll start to get a feel for what's happening in the ring in terms of clean punching, effective aggressiveness, good ring generalship, defense, and all the other factors that are part of the skills displayed by a boxer. While doing this, it's very important that you remain objective and free of any personal biases or prejudices. Some of these might even be a result of subconscious thoughts that you may have. For example, there is a misconception, often supported by the media, which suggests that the challenger must literally "wrest the crown away from the champion," thereby awarding close rounds to the champ. This is, of course, unfair and gives the champ an unfair advantage. When the bell rings, the champ and the challenger should both be on equal footing, and the round must be scored using the criteria which is the subject matter of this publication. It's very important that you not be swayed by the name of the fighter, his reputation, his race, his creed, or his nationality.

If you plan to score a fight, all distractions must be eliminated. For example, judges sitting at ringside must be sure that crowd noise, shouting from the corners, photographers, and any other distractions during the round and during the rest period not be allowed to divert his attention. The same holds true if you are sitting at home watching the fight on television and want to score it. This means no trips to the refrigerator, no talking to the people in the room with you, no distractions of any kind in the way of interruptions or conversations. I don't want to take a fun out of it, but if you are serious about judging, there are conditions that must be met---"if you want to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk". Very simply, if you want to achieve credibility with your scores, even while sitting at home, watching on television, you've got to follow the rules. You've got to work to develop absolute power of concentration. Without this concentration, your scoring will be flawed. For some it may come easy, but for others it may require study and practice to develop. When the bell rings to start the round, you've got to give your total concentration to the three minutes that follow and carefully study every bit of action in the ring until the bell rings ending the round.


Keep your eyes focused at a point between the two boxers to allow you to observe and mentally register the actions of the both men. Avoid watching only one boxer. You may miss something the other boxer is doing.


There are three basic factors used to score a round and ultimately the fight:

1. Clean punching/effective aggressiveness

2. Ring generalship

3. Defense

Let's talk about each one of these factors in order of importance.


Most fights are won by the fighter who uses clean punching with effective aggressiveness to score points. Boxing is a combative sport. The object of the professional boxer is to score a greater number of effective punches than his opponent while avoiding as many punches as possible. This is the key to winning. In other words, the boxer who gets off first, who controls the action while scoring good clean punches is on his way to winning.

Because boxing is considered so combative, and although defense is important, offense or clean punching and affective aggressiveness is what wins fights. A knockout is a professional boxers ultimate achievement. A knockdown carries much weight. This can only be accomplished by a fighter who utilizes clean punching in combination with his aggressiveness. Simply moving forward is not enough.

In many fights you'll observe a match-up that might be termed the "Matador and the Bull." The "Bull" is the connotation for the fighter who keeps moving forward. The "Matador," of course, is the fighter who may be moving backwards or side to side, as the "Bull" charges forward. If, however, the fighter moving forward is not punching effectively and is not scoring with good clean punches, he's not gaining an advantage. In the meantime, the fighter moving backward, or side to side, might be scoring with good clean counterpunches and good stiff jabs and piling up points, even though he is not moving forward. What we are saying is that effective aggressiveness does not necessarily mean a boxer must be moving forward. A good counter-puncher, scoring affective punches while moving backwards or using lateral movement, still scores points against a fighter who may be moving forward but is not punching effectively. If this analysis of affective aggressiveness is misunderstood, it could lead to flawed scoring.

In conclusion, the aggressor who takes the lead, gets off first, scores clean punches both in quantity and with quality, regardless of the direction he is moving, should win the round.


Clean punching or hitting is an important criteria for the following two reasons:

1. For aggressiveness to be effective, the punches must land on target cleanly and inflict damage. For example, clean body shots will inflict damage that may not become apparent until the latter rounds of the fight. When scoring the fight, good clean body punches are sometimes overlooked because they are not as spectacular as those to the chin or to the head. This is one of the most apparent oversights made by judges who may not have the experience or the training mentioned earlier. Clean, stiff jabs may inflict damage quickly by causing cuts and swelling. The jab is a very effective weapon and must be considered when developing your scoring during the round. I'll talk more about the jab when we get into ring generalship and the effect that the jab has on the conduct of the fight. Clean left hooks or a straight right hand may cause instant damage by knocking the fighter down. What we have are punches that are doing damage, landing cleanly to the body or the head, which, over a period of time, will wear the fighter down. There are certain times that I may even score for clean punches thrown to the shoulders or arms, depending on the amount of damage I believe they are inflicting. (If, on the other hand, a fighter uses his arms or shoulders to block punches in a defensive manoeuvre, there would be no advantage for the fighter throwing those punches.)

2. Clean punching also means the boxer is obeying the rules of boxing by landing the punches on authorized areas of the body, like the jaw, head, solar plexus, or heart area. These are scoring punches.On the other hand, low blows, hitting with the open glove, punches behind the head or back, and holding while hitting do not score points.

The primary scoring factor in a fight is the punch delivered by the boxer. The boxer scoring clean, effective punches is on his way to winning.


Watching a fight on television is not the same as seeing it live sitting at ringside for obvious reasons. It is sometimes difficult to determine the effect of punches while watching the fight on television. If there is anything lost in the transmission of a fight on television, it is the impact of the punches being landed in the ring. Much depends on the camera angle and the lighting at the particular time the punches are being thrown. I have often viewed tapes of fights I have seen live, and I know of many instances where the impact of good effective punches is lost during transmission. To overcome this, while you're at home, watching the fight on television and scoring, I think you need to move close to your television and really focus your concentration. Here again, I want to emphasize the importance of concentration when scoring a fight.



1 Ring Generalship

2. Defense

3. Punching: Quality /Power and Quantity

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.

All readers are advised that the information herein is intended solely as a general reference source, and to the fullest extent permitted by law, the information is provided “AS IS” without any warranties of any kind, whether express or implied, including without limitation, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement. No one may rely on the accuracy, integrity, quality or completeness of the general information herein. Accordingly, neither the authors, editors nor anyone else affiliated with this website may be held liable for damages of any kind whatsoever allegedly caused or resulting from any such claimed reliance

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