How well do you know the Olympic boxing scoring system?

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Technical regulations of AIBA

3.13. Each Judge will independently judge the merits of the two (2) Boxers using the Scoring System based on the following criteria:

1-Number of quality blows on target area

2-Domination of the Bout by technical and tactical superiority

3-Competitiveness

4-Infringement of the rules

3.14.  The Judges must apply the following criteria to score round:

10-9 : CLose round

10-8 : Clear winner

10-7 : Total dominance

10-6 : Overmatched

in collaboration with Nathalie Lacombe (level 5, 2 stars official) and Tony Germain (level 5, 3 stars official for WSB and APB leagues)

You might be thinking that the criteria are not sufficiently detailed. Or perhaps you find that their interpretation seems subjective? So I asked two officials to explain briefly how they were taught to apply the system.

Is one criterion more important than the others?

"The first criterion is the most important of the 4. We always favour the boxer who throws the highest number of quality blows on target,” says Tony. “When the number of quality shots is the same, that’s when we push the evaluation further. The remaining criteria are all on equal footing."

Quantity versus quality: What matters most?

According to Nathalie, it’s quality over quantity. "A boxer does not automatically win the exchange because he throws more shots. [...] The impact counts as well. In an exchange, you might see the blue boxer give two clear shots, but then you see his head fly back because of a very powerful blow from the red boxer. Regardless of whether the referee gives an 8 count or not, for me the winner of the exchange is the red boxer."

"Boxers who throw a lot of shots can be a trap for judges," says Tony, giving as an example a boxer who throws 75 shots in a round, but touches the target clearly only 4 times. "In meetings before the beginning of an event, we are constantly reminded of the importance of focusing on the quality of the shots," Tony says about international competitions.

Do judges receive special instructions before tournaments?

"It's different from one tournament to another, depending on the supervisor," says Nathalie. “For example, during the meeting before the tournament in Costa Rica [AMBC American Confederation Youth Championships – October 2016], we were told to watch for low heads, because it was a junior tournament and headgear was going to be removed soon. We were told to call the low heads that were really dangerous."

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Nathalie adds: "In Costa Rica, nobody told the judges to favour the aggressor but, as the first day of competition went on, I realized that this was what the judges favoured. And I’m talking about cases where the fight was close: when the round was close and both were good and had punches of good quality, rounds were given to the aggressor.”

Are athletes penalized for warnings?

The fourth criterion (Infringement of the rules) is important when a bout is very close. "If the referee has warned a boxer several times – even if no points were lost –, the faults may lead the judges to lean towards his opponent. When the bout is very close and we feel that the boxer really deserved his warning, we deem that this boxer has lost the round," says Tony.

Does an 8 count automatically equal a 10-8 round?

No. An 8 count does not guarantee a 10-8 for the boxer who gave it, but if the judges consider that there was domination during the round, they may grant a 10-8, whether there was an 8 count or not. "It also goes with the category,” adds Tony. “If a boxer from the -69 kg category – the smallest category to wear 12 oz gloves – wins a round and is also able to shake his opponent with one shot, one can judge that there is domination and give a 10-8. Conversely, a boxer in -91 kg who touches the target several times will win a 10-9 if the shots do not seem to bother the opponent."

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