As a new boxing fan, the rules of the sport may be a bit confusing at first. A big part of this is the round system. How exactly do rounds work in boxing? How many rounds are there, and why? In the rest of this post, I’m going to dive into the history of the round system in boxing, as well as answer the question: how many rounds are there in boxing?
Typically, boxing matches contain 4, 6, 8, 10, or 12 rounds, depending on the experience of the fighters. Twelve round boxing matches are reserved for championships and main event fights, with most experienced fighters competing for ten rounds. Matches with less experienced fighters last four, six, or eight rounds.
I should note that this post explains how long a boxing match can be scheduled for. If you want to see how long fights last on average (including fights with knockouts) check out How Long Does The Average Boxing Match Last?
In the rest of this post, I will cover what decides the number of rounds for a match, as well as when these rounds were first implemented in boxing.
So as mentioned previously, a boxing match can last either 4, 6, 8, 10, or 12 rounds. There are several reasons for splitting up the rounds in this way, which I’ll explain here.
The main factor that decides the number of rounds, is the experience of the competitors. Professional boxing matches for newer pros start at four rounds, because the amateur bouts last a maximum of four rounds.
This helps newer professional boxers get used to the increased competition, as well as gain conditioning as they continue to win fights. To see an example of how the number of rounds change throughout a boxer’s career, we’ll take a look at undefeated rising prospect, Ryan Garcia.
In the span of under four years, Ryan Garcia went from his professional debut, to fighting for a world title in a bout scheduled for twelve rounds. Over this time, he has fought in bouts scheduled for 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 rounds.
For his debut, Ryan was set to face Edgar Meza (who was also making his debut) over four rounds. This is very common for newer pro boxers, for reasons mentioned previously.
However, I should note this is not always the case. Ukrainian boxer Vasyl Lomachenko made his professional debut in a bout scheduled for 10 rounds, due to his extensive experience as an amateur.
Ryan would continue to fight in 4-round bouts for his next six fights, winning every bout. In his seventh fight, Ryan fought in his first bout scheduled for 6 rounds. Ryan’s last opponent over four rounds was a boxer named Mario Aguirre, who had a record of 2 wins, 4 losses.
Ryan’s first six-round opponent was a boxer named Jose Antonio Martinez. This move to six rounds implied a step up for competition for Ryan (then 4-0), as Martinez had a record of 8 wins, 7 losses (8-7), much better than Ryan’s previous opponent who was 2-4.
Ryan won three more bouts (all knockouts) after winning his six-round debut: Devon Jones (2-1), Tyrone Luckey (8-6), and Mario Macias (28-21). After beating Mario Macias, who had an extensive record, it was time for another step up in competition for Ryan.
Ryan’s introduction to eight rounds would be in his eleventh fight, against a boxer named Miguel Carizoza, who had a record of 10 wins, 2 losses. This was a steep increase in competition for Ryan, as Carizoza had a good winning record, especially compared to Ryan’s previous opponents.
His next two opponents were also eight-round bouts, and they were also tough competition when looking at their records, Ryan’s opponents being Cesar Alan Valenzuela (14-5) and Noe Martinez Raygoza (23-9).
Since he won these bouts in dominant fashion, he was quickly moved up to ten round fights.
Ryan Garcia’s 10-round debut came against Fernando Vargas Parra, for Ryan’s fourteenth fight. Parra sported a record of 32 wins, 13 losses, and 3 draws.
Ten round fights are the pinnacle for non-championship fights in boxing. This is the highest level of competition where a belt is not on the line (aside from the main event fight).
From here, wins will get you consideration for title bouts, which is exactly what happened to Ryan. After another 5 wins in ten-round bouts, Ryan (then 19-0) earned a shot at the WBC Silver lightweight title, against Romero Duno (21-1).
After winning the title, we can expect all of Ryan’s future bouts to be either title shots or main event fights, meaning he will be fighting at the highest level of competition (based on rounds) over twelve rounds for the foreseeable future.
As you can see from his opponent’s records, Ryan has fought increasingly tougher competition over the years, and the level of competition he faces directly correlates to the number of rounds for which the fight is scheduled.
The original round system (and overall set of rules) for boxing was developed in 1867 and is known as the Marquess of Queensberry rules. The rules were drafted by a Welsh sportsman named John Chambers, and they were named after John Sholto Douglas, who endorsed them as the 9th Marquess of Queensberry.
The ruleset became a standard for professional boxing, and are still use to this day. The Marquess of Queensberry rules state that rounds are three minutes in length, with a one-minute interval of rest time in between each round.
However, the Marquess of Queensberry rules didn’t specify how long a fight can last in terms of rounds. The modern rules of boxing made up for this, specifying that the maximum number of rounds that a boxing match can last is twelve rounds.
So that’s pretty much all there is to the number of rounds in a boxing match. They basically last from four to twelve rounds based on the fighters’ experience.
In short, boxing matches last either 4, 6, 8, 10, or 12 rounds, with 12 being the maximum. The number of rounds is decided based on the experience of the boxers, with pro debuts usually being 4 rounds, and championship boxing matches being scheduled for 12 rounds.
And that’s the end of this article on rounds in boxing. If you enjoyed this post, consider checking out similar articles on the Martial Arts History page. Thanks for reading!