Rules of boxing

When it comes to the rules of boxing, each jurisdiction can have their own variations. The protocols being followed will also depend on whether it is a professional or amateur match. Despite this, many organizations follow the Marquess of Queensberry Rules, which have become synonymous with modern boxing since the mid-1800s.

Standard Rules

The Marquess of Queensberry rules dictate that each round will last three minutes. There can be up to 9 or 12 rounds per match. Usually, one minute is spent by fighters getting advice from their coaches and staff as they stay in their assigned corners.

The conduct of each contestant is judged by a referee. The ref is the one who counts when a fighter is knocked down. They can also rule on fouls and control the conduct of people inside the ring.

A total of three judges stay on the ringside. Their job is to watch each fighter and assign them scores. The amount of points given depends on the punches and elbows that connect, as well as their defense strategies. Due to the subjective and open-minded nature of boxing, judging their verdicts can sometimes prove to be controversial.

“Going the distance” is when a predetermined number of rounds is passed without there being a knockout. When this happens the fighter with the most points wins. In the event of a knockout, the downed boxer has ten seconds to get back up. These seconds are counted by the referee.


When a fighter commits a foul they may be given a warning or point deduction. In extreme cases, they can even be disqualified. Their punishment is determined by the referee. There are numerous acts that are considered a foul in boxing.

Illegal moves include hitting below the belt as well as kicking, tripping, headbutting and pushing the opponent. Fighters are not allowed to hit with their heads, shoulders, or forearms. There are parts of the opponent’s body that cannot be hit. This includes their kidneys and the back of their head or neck.

Furthermore, fighters are not allowed to throw their punches while using the ropes for leverage. If they are holding onto an opponent then they cannot hit them. They also must not duck below the belt line of their opponent. Once they have been knocked out, the other fighter must go to a neutral corner while the referee counts. Floored fighters must not be punched when they are lying on the canvas.

There is an illegal move known as ‘hitting on the break.’ This is when the fighter punches immediately after the referee has broken them away from a clinch. Instead of doing this, the player is supposed to take a full step back.