How Many Rounds in Boxing? | How Long Are Boxing Matches?

Written by
Legends Boxing
Sunday, July 19, 2020

When most people think about boxing, they think about monstrous men throwing punch after grueling punch in a never-ending bloody battle for the win and although this may have been the case in the past – times have thankfully changed! 

Believe it or not, but boxing is one of the oldest sports known to date and comes with a pretty complicated history. Dating back to the Olympic Games in Greece during the 7th century BC, boxers – or gladiators – used tough leather to protect their hands and wrists which were enhanced with special copper and iron brackets. The goal was to take down their opponent which typically resulted in the death of one of the fighters. 

With the spread of religion, boxing disappeared for many years only to make a comeback in England, 1681, but boxing returns with new rules and regulations. The safety of the fighter was of top concern as the sport evolved into what we all know and love today featuring well-known world champion heavyweight title fighters like Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Eddie Hearn, Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, and Tyson Fury.

Currently, 12 rounds at three minutes each are the maximum allowed to avoid injuries and ensure the wellbeing of those involved, but where did this come from?

The Fight That Changed It All

Back in the day, boxing was fought with bare hands and there weren’t very many rules regarding what was later to become one of the most popular sports of all time. The number of rounds was not limited, so the bout was able to go on and on until one opponent was clearly defeated. With that being said, the fights were extremely brutal and there was no stopping the boxers until one was victorious. In fact, the longest match on record belonged to the determined Simon Byrne and James Burke which took place in 1833, lasting 99 long excruciating rounds. To give you an idea as to the brutality of what boxing entailed during those times, Byrne, unfortunately, died a few days after the fight, due to the extensive injuries he had endured. 

In the early 1900s, a 15-round max cap was implemented to protect the wellbeing of the fighters, but it did not take long for this to change as well. 

‘Going the distance’ used to refer to a boxer’s ability to last in a fight anywhere between 13 and 15 rounds. However, this changed due to some criticism and controversy in the 1980s due to the death of a prominent boxing figure, changing the beloved sport forever. 

In 1982, a lightweight warrior named Duk Koo Kim lost his life after fighting against Ray Mancini for 14 rounds. Fans were shocked causing the World Boxing Council (WBC) to take an immediate stance, reducing the number of rounds from 15 to 12.

Although many were upset and did not agree with the change, some studies suggested that there is a greater chance for a fighter to suffer brain damage when fighting for longer periods of time. In addition, 15-rounds are also considered to cause dehydration and overall fatigue because they tend to push the fighters to their limit. Thankfully, there are boxing organizations like the WBO and the WBA who help regulate the showdowns and help keep everyone as safe as possible whether you're in featherweight, heavyweight, welterweight, or middleweight.

Boxing Today

Today, the length of a boxing round will solely depend on the class or caliber of the match. An Olympic match will have a different time from a professional or world title match, which will also differ from an amateur match or rematch. The length of each bout will also be determined by the age group. 

Professional Boxing 

Professional boxing, also known as prizefighting, began to climb in popularity in the early 20th Century, eventually becoming a legitimate sport that is watched on ESPN and pay per view from high-profile Las Vegas matchroom venues. Certain rules were developed as time evolved into what is known today as professional fighting. The sparring bouts are the longest with the contenders battling it out ringside for 12 rounds. Although twelve is the max that they can go for, some fights have four, six, eight, and even ten rounds – it all depends on the promoters of each match.  

Each bout consists of three minutes, where top rank boxing champions go at each other with everything they have, and then they rest for a minute prior to starting the next round of the title fight to become the next heavyweight champion. 

Amateur Boxing 

A type of boxing that is practiced at the Olympic Commonwealth Games, Pan American Games, and many other organizations, amateur boxing is a type of boxing that involves no prize money. These fighters are not amateurs in any way and are just as capable as those who fight in the pros. However, amateur fights are not based on power and knockouts, but on the points garnered from the number of clean punches delivered to the opponent during the main event. 

A bout in amateur boxing varies between men and women. For men, each round consists of three rounds of three minutes each. For women, each round consists of four rounds of two minutes each. This has been the standard in amateur boxing since January 1st, 2009.

Youth Boxing

Lastly, youth boxing is something that many people do not really think of, but it is a vibrant part of the boxing world! Youth boxing does not necessarily only refer to teens but is the boxing that people enjoy in clubs and fight camps for fun. 

The length of each boxing round varies as it is based on the boxers age group:  

  • Bantam (8 to 10 years old) –the bouts must consist of three rounds of one minute each
  • Junior (11 to 12 years old) – the bouts must consist of three rounds of one minute each
  • Intermediate (13 to 14 years old) – the bouts must consist of three rounds of 1.5 minutes each
  • Senior Junior Olympic (15 to 16 years old) – the bouts must consist of three rounds of two minutes each 
  • Sub Novice (17 to 34 years old) – the bouts must consist of three rounds of two minutes each
  • Novice (17 to 34 years old) – the bouts must consist of ten rounds of two minutes each
  • Open (17 to 34 years old) – the bouts consist of up to twelve rounds of two minutes each. 
  • Master Class (35 years and over) – the bouts consist of up to twelve rounds of three minutes each. 

In Conclusion

As you can see, boxing has come a long way since the good old gladiator days. (Or not so good!) Rules and regulations are instilled to help keep the sport not only fun but safe for the athletes involved. In fact, this beloved sport is no longer just for the beasts-of-men in the world, but it is now a very common way for those to get in excellent shape! Amazing clubs like Legends Boxing found a way to create boxing-inspired workouts to help those achieve an incredible physique while having fun in doing so! If you have been thinking about taking your fitness to the next level, we highly suggest giving Legends Boxing a try – we know you will not regret it!



Written by
Legends Boxing
Sunday, July 19, 2020