The intensity of boxing (at both physical and emotional levels), makes it one of the most popular sports in the world.
Whenever there’s a big match, such as Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao or Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather, we all anticipate an intense, action-filled, and heart-thumping fight.
And as we make a countdown to the fight, we all ask questions like “how long is a professional boxing match?” or “how long will be each round?”
Most viewers and boxing fanatics all hope that bouts are longer and wish the action never ends.
But for the fighters in the ring, every second is intense and extremely exhausting. Every round is a measure of their physical prowess, boxing skills, and willpower.
What Is a Boxing Round?
A boxing bout is divided into several rounds, during which two opposing fighters actively go at each other with all they have using the permitted fighting techniques.
The beginning of each round is signified by a single bell, and the end is marked by three bells.
There is a one-minute break after each round.
How Long Is a Boxing Match?
If you’ve watched plenty of boxing matches in the past, you may have noticed that some fights involved fewer rounds while others have more.
Some battles, particularly professional competitions and world championships, typically have up to 12 rounds. Amateur bouts usually have 10 rounds or less.
Tournaments and competitions have varying rules. Although typically, the average length of a boxing round is about 17 minutes long. This doesn’t include breaks and other adjustments.
To gauge how long is a boxing match, you should know about the different types of boxing competitions.
Types of Boxing Matches
There are different boxing matches held everywhere in the world. However, these competitions are generally categorized into three: amateur, professional, and youth boxing.
Amateur boxing is a variant of boxing that we normally see in the Olympic Games, Pan American Games, and Commonwealth Games.
The rules governing amateur boxing are the same in the US and UK. Typically, it involves three rounds of three minutes each for males. For females, bouts involve four rounds of two minutes each.
Aside from having shorter bouts, amateur fights require the use of headgear along with boxing gloves and a mouthguard.
Professional boxing, also called “prizefighting”, is highly regulated and sanctioned.
Most professional bouts are supervised by a regulatory authority and obtain endorsements from a sanctioning body.
Headgear is not permitted, and bouts often follow a 10-point system.
Boxing isn’t just for adults. Youth boxing is recognized around the world, and international competitions are organized by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) and have been held biennially since the 1990s.
Like amateur boxing, this competition usually consists of three rounds of two minutes each.
Furthermore, youth boxing comes in different divisions, ranging from Bantam (8-10 years old) to Intermediate (13-14 years), and Open (17-34 years.)
How Long Is a Professional Boxing Match?
Professional boxing bouts are the longest, having 12 rounds each. For every round, fighters spend three minutes inside the ring, giving all their sharpest and heaviest blows.
12 rounds are not an easy feat. It takes an enormous amount of power, strength, and agility to survive 12 rounds, a total of 36 minutes of punching and countering.
But did you know that during the 1980s, professional matches went 15 rounds? Yes, that’s how intense boxing was.
However, the rules have changed since 1982. From 15 rounds, professional bouts were reduced to 12 rounds.
The decision was made after the death of Kim Duk-Koo. The South Korean boxer died five days after his WBA title fight against former American professional boxer Ray Mancini due to a brain clot.
Today, most title fights have 12 rounds and non-title fights are typically set at 10 rounds or fewer. Each round lasts for three minutes for male fighters and two minutes for female fighters.
Boxing Rounds Today
Boxing rounds today are highly regulated. Due to the intense nature of this sport, it’s important to keep boxing rounds short to prevent life-threatening injuries and risks, including death.
Nearly all boxing matches will only have a maximum of three minutes per round. Even in more advanced classifications, such as professional bouts, each round is limited to three minutes.
For most fans and viewers, this might be short. However, there are many different reasons for that, most of which are tied with the fighter’s health and safety.
Let’s discuss why each boxing round is only capped at three minutes:
Realistic Round for Combat Sports
For fighters, three minutes inside the ring can seem like an eternity.
Throwing powerful punches take a lot of strength and endurance. Fighting can make a person nervous.
Thus, fighters are likely to feel tired faster than his body during an actual bout rather than in training.
Aside from landing different punches (jab, cross, hook, and uppercut), they also have to defend against their opponents’ attacks.
Dehydration and Fatigue
As we mentioned, professional boxing bouts have been shortened to 12 rounds instead of 15 because boxing put so much strain on the body that in worst cases, a fighter can die.
A three-minute fiery action inside the ring can already cause issues like fatigue and dehydration.
Add a couple of heavy blows, and even some of the strongest boxers can suffer from concussions and head injuries.
Serious Risk and Injury Prevention
In 1982, the World Boxing Council (WBC) had to take measures to prevent serious injuries among boxers.
There had been serious debates on shortening the duration of bouts, called “championship distance”, but finally, it was set to 12 rounds, with no more than three minutes per round.
Despite shortening the length of bouts, boxing remains to be one of the deadliest sports today. That said, boxers take extreme caution inside the ring and allot time for training to prepare their body.
What Boxers Do To Survive 12 Rounds
To survive up to twelve rounds, it takes months, even years of training, strength, and conditioning, to develop exceptional endurance.
There are different techniques that boxers do to boost their endurance. They have to train harder on professional boxing equipment such as boxing punching bags and perfect their punches and movements.
They also perform lots of high-intensity training workouts to increase their aerobic capacity so they don’t get tired easily inside the ring. In addition, boxers need to strengthen their muscles through body training.
Most professional boxers usually go through four months to a year of training so they are fit enough to survive twelve rounds. Training sessions are intense, lasting three to five hours per session, five times a week.
Now that you know how many rounds are in a boxing match, you will come to appreciate this explosive sport even more.
Essentially, bouts can go up to twelve rounds for professional boxers, and less for amateur boxers. Each round lasts for three minutes for men, and two minutes for women.
While three minutes seem short, it is long enough to cause dehydration and exhaustion among fighters.
That said, even though boxing organizations have different rules for competitions and tournaments, they shouldn’t exceed the limit set for each classification to ensure the health and safety of the fighters.