How Many Rounds in Boxing Matches?

boxing match

Boxing is a sport that has been around for thousands of years now. It became an Olympic sport in 688 BC and since then, its rules and regulations have changed multiple times over the centuries.

This includes the number of rounds that a boxing match is fought over. If you’re curious about what modern-day boxing looks like, keep reading, we’ll explain everything you need to know.

What Is a Boxing Round?

A boxing match is structured into rounds. In professional boxing, a round lasts for three minutes. Amateur and junior competitions also use three-minute rounds but have fewer total rounds per bout. Women’s boxing rounds are two minutes each but generally have more rounds per bout for amateur boxing matches.

At the end of each round, the boxers return to their corners for a short break. This allows the fighters to catch their breath, talk with their coach, and receive quick injury treatments in between the rounds.  

break between boxing rounds

How Many Rounds in Boxing Matches?

A typical high-level professional boxing match has a maximum of 12 rounds, all lasting three minutes each. A women’s professional boxing match has 10 rounds, each lasting two minutes. 

There is a universal one-minute rest period between each round for all formats of boxing. Heavyweight boxing round length is also three minutes in every format.

There are usually 10 rounds or less in lower skill brackets. When a fighter is just starting out, it’s not uncommon for him to have four-round fights. This will be pre-agreed before the contest.

Amateur matches tend to have anywhere between three to five rounds. Typically, amateur women’s boxing matches have four rounds of two minutes each. Meanwhile, amateur men’s boxing matches have three rounds of three minutes each.

How Many Rounds in Boxing in the Olympics?

Olympic boxing used to be very similar to amateur boxing before 2016. In fact, before the Rio Olympics, professional boxers weren’t allowed to participate in the Olympics. This was for fear of unfair competition.

Before 2016, Olympic boxing had three rounds of three minutes each with a one-minute break in between rounds. The scoring system was also based purely on the number of clean hits landed during the rounds.

Starting from the Rio Olympic games though, Olympic boxing now follows the 10-point must system and also allows professional boxers to participate in the competition. However, the format did not change and Olympic matches still have three rounds of three minutes each with one-minute breaks in between.

Olympic boxing has the same number of rounds for all weight classes. Unlike professional and amateur women’s boxing, Olympic women’s boxing has the same number of rounds as men’s boxing.

How Many Rounds in Boxing Rocky?

In the 1976 film Rocky, the eponymous character goes the distance in a boxing match against the world champion, Apollo Creed. The film’s iconic finale sees Rocky losing the fight but winning the respect of the crowd and his opponent.

While the movie doesn’t explicitly state how many rounds the fight went, it is typically assumed to be 15 rounds. This is based on the real-world boxing rules of the time, which stipulated that championship fights consisted of 15 three-minute rounds.

It’s worth noting that the rules have since been changed, and championship fights now consist of 12 three-minute rounds. However, Rocky remains an enduring example of someone who was willing to go the extra mile to achieve their goals.

boxing rounds

Why Is Boxing Not 15 Rounds Anymore?

Although the standard for professional boxing today is 12 rounds, it wasn’t always this way. There used to be 15 rounds per professional boxing match up until 1982. This meant 45 minutes of fighting in the ring as opposed to today’s 36 minutes.

The total rounds were reduced after an unfortunate event that happened during a match between Ray Mancini and Duk Koo Kim in 1982. Duk Koo Kim collapsed in the ring after a blow to the head during round 14 after a series of intense rounds.

Duk Koo Kim was immediately rushed to the hospital where a clot was discovered in his head. The doctors attempted surgery to save him but he lapsed into a coma and died four days later.

This event sparked major debates regarding the safety of fighting for 15 rounds. Duk Koo Kim ultimately convinced all the major boxing organizations to change their rules to reduce the total number of rounds down from 15 to 12.

Does a Boxing Round End if Someone Is Knocked Down? 

In most boxing formats, if someone is knocked down, the other fighter has to back off while the referee starts a count. The knocked-down fighter usually has 10 seconds to get back up and continue the fight. If the fighter does not get up in the time it takes the referee to count to 10, the other boxer wins via technical knockout.

Some boxing organizations have rules that allow the knocked down person to be “saved by the bell”. If a person gets knocked down at the very end of the round, they may be spared a knockout if the bell rings and the round ends, allowing them to take a break.

Even though it’s no longer a rule, there used to be a three-knockdown rule. This is where if a boxer is knocked down three times in a single round, he is to be considered knocked out.

What Do Boxers Do Between Rounds? 

In between the rounds, both boxers go to corners opposite each other where their staff is waiting. The staff usually consists of the coach, the coach’s assistant, and the cutman. The coach and their assistant advise the boxer on how they should fight as well as encouragement.

Meanwhile, the cutman has the important job of treating the boxer’s injuries. The cutman has the job of keeping the face free of cuts, bruises, and swelling. The boxer’s staff can throw the fights if the boxer’s injuries appear to prevent the boxer from being able to fight safely anymore.

The team of the boxer is responsible for deciding whether they can continue the fight or if it is too dangerous.

boxing match

How Does a Boxing Match End?

A boxing match will instantly end if a knockout is achieved, that is when a boxer can’t get up within 10 seconds after being knocked down. If a knockout doesn’t happen, then the match plays out all the rounds as per the rules after which the judges decide on the winner.

Alternatively, if the boxer or the boxer’s staff throws the towel into the ring, the match ends instantly with the opponent’s victory. The staff can also throw the towel in if they want to prevent the boxer from getting injured if they feel the match is too one-sided.

How Do Judges Decide Who Wins in Boxing?

If a match doesn’t end in a knockout and the fighters remain standing after all of the rounds, then it falls onto the judges to declare the winner. Olympic boxing uses five judges while professional boxing uses three.

In lower-ranked matches, the number of judges can be even smaller or alternatively, the referee may score the contest. 

In professional boxing, the judge’s scores can be very subjective. In general, it comes down to determining who performed better during each round and then adding up the score of all rounds to see who scored the most. In professional boxing, there are four different decisions.

Unanimous Decision – If all three judges agree on the same boxer as the winner, it is a unanimous decision.

Majority Decision – Two judges agree on the same winner and one judge calls it a draw.

Split decision – Two judges agree on one winner and the third judge agrees on the other.

Draw – One judge believes in one winner, the second in the other winner, and the third judge decides it to be a draw. There can also be a draw on a majority decision. This happens if two judges decide the match is a draw.

A unanimous draw can also happen if all three judges agree that the match is to be a draw.

In general, judging in professional boxing can be very subjective. Here is a video that explains what factors affect the scores of the boxer:

How Long are Boxing Rounds?

All men’s boxing match rounds are three minutes long while women’s boxing rounds are two minutes in length. Both have a one-minute break in between.

The number of rounds in a boxing match depends on the agreement between the fighters and their managers before the fight. For example, a ten-round bout is often seen for high-level fights, while twelve rounds are more common for world title fights.

In addition, there are also matches that consist of only four or six rounds. These shorter matches are sometimes referred to as “sprint” bouts. Ultimately, the length of a boxing round is determined by the fighters and their handlers, making it one of the few things that can be decided before a match even begins.

How Many Minutes Are There Between Boxing Rounds?

There is a one-minute interval between every round for the fighters to rest and receive help from their staff. This means that the total length of a world-title boxing match would be 47 minutes.

This is due to 12 rounds that are three minutes each with 11 resting minutes between rounds. Of course, no resting period is needed after the 12th round as the fight has been completed.

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Kenny Jarvis
Kenny Jarvis
I have been practicing and studying boxing since I was a teenager. I am passionate about the sport, along with many other martial arts. While my fighting days may be over, I love channeling my passion into my writing to provide insightful blogs.