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The Role of Judges in Boxing

You would think that betting on boxing would be simple—that it couldn’t get any simpler.  Two men walk into a ring and start throwing punches.  Eventually, one of them will beat the other.  How could betting on that be complicated?  All too often, though, the decisions made in boxing matches come from the judges.  Not all fights are won through knockouts.  Many are decided based on points.  Still others are decided by factors that sadly have nothing to do with the skill of the fighters.  I will talk more about that in just a moment.


Judges have been known to make bad calls, as well as calls which generate controversy for years to come.  There are a number of reasons that judges may not always make clear decisions which make sense to everyone.  Here are a few:

  • In the heat of the moment, it can be hard to make the right call.  Judges are standing there by the sidelines, and have a very short amount of time to think through what they have seen and make a subjective decision.  This is very difficult even for a fair-minded judge at times.  Even the best judges occasionally make questionable choices, and those decisions can end up costing you money.
  • A partisan crowd can have an impact on a judge’s decision.  When a particular fighter is heavily favoured by the crowd, the judge may be tempted to go along with the crowd’s decision. 
  • There are other factors which can also create partiality in judges.  Judges may be biased to support past winners, or those which are seen as profitable by promoters.  Decisions may not be driven by sportsmanship or fairness at all, but by money.  Corruption is a problem in many sports, but with all the histrionics that surround boxing, it can be particularly rampant.  This is something to really watch out for.


Sadly there is not a whole lot you can do about this, and there is no way to 100% predict the impact a judge is going to have on a match, just like there is no way to 100% predict the action between the fighters.  What is most important is simply to acknowledge that the judges can and often do make the calls which will determine whether you win or lose your wager.  Sometimes those calls are fair, and other times they are not.  You may not even always be certain which are which. 


Before you place a wager, research the judges involved if you can, and find out what kinds of calls they have made in the past, and whether they seem partial based on the crowd’s preference or which champion the promoters are backing.  If you know you cannot trust the judges in a match, you may want to wait for another opportunity where the match will be handled more fairly.  There is nothing worse than losing money that you should have won simply because a judge decides to do something dishonest.


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