Beginners Guide to Boxing Betting

Boxing has come a long way since those illegal bare-fisted fights one could see in the early 20th century. From basements of bars and small gyms, this noble sport has become a multi-billion dollar entertainment business. Today, the biggest matches can sell out whole stadiums and arenas in mere minutes. So, it’s probably the best possible time to start with boxing betting.

Even though many consider boxing to be the most dynamic and exciting sport, it can get a little confusing at times. Everything happens at a blistering pace, so beginners often struggle when they start betting on matches. Well, we at NostraBet decided to put an end to this struggle, once and for all.

After months of research and analysis, we managed to compile the ultimate beginner’s guide to boxing betting. So, today, you’re going to get all the boxing betting tips you need to place winning bets. We’re going to explain everything – from betting lines to the rules and boxing federations literally. Don’t worry, it sounds daunting, but it’s pretty easy to grasp when you delve a little deeper.

So, are you ready to become a pro boxing bettor? If so, then let’s get ready to rumble! We’ll start off with the rules and a bit of history while we’re at it…

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Understanding the Rules

boxing arena match

A boxing match takes place between two fighters on a raised square platform with 28.7-foot sides. Even though it’s a square, this platform is called a ring because matches used to take place within hand-drawn circles in the old days. It consists of a 20-foot wide inner space shaped by ropes and a 33.5-inch perimeter space between the edge of the ring and the ropes.

The actual fighting occurs within the 20-foot wide inner square. It’s covered by thick 1-inch padding that serves the purpose of preventing injuries when a boxer falls down. Before the match begins, the fighters go to their corners, each on the opposite side of the ring. Here’s the essential equipment:

  • Boxing gloves
    They are thick and equipped with padding so that they don’t cause severe injuries, both to the boxer’s hands and his opponent’s body. Before the fight, refs check to see if there aren’t any hard objects inserted into the gloves.
  • Mouthguard
    It’s a protective device made of rubber. Covering the teeth and gums prevents cuts on the lips, dislodged teeth, and other injuries in the oral cavity.
  • Shorts
    Traditionally, in men’s boxing, both fighters are shirtless, while female boxers wear sports bra.
  • Boxing shoes
    While you can technically fight barefoot, shoes are essential. They are hi-tops and provide grip and stability. In addition to this, they also prevent ankle injuries and help the boxer gain more momentum while punching.

Rounds, Points, and Forbidden Practices

Each boxing match has 9-12 rounds, depending on the rules of the governing body. However, most professional showdowns have 12 rounds, each lasting 3 minutes. After these 3 minutes end, a bell rings, and both fighters must return to their respective corners for a 1-minute break. During this time, they are attended by their trainers and medical team. They drink water, receive tips, and get tended to if they are cut, swollen, or bruised. Once that minute is up, both fighters stand up and face off again.

Even though a match can last a maximum of 12 rounds, it can also end earlier. This happens if a fighter is unable to continue, if he’s knocked out, or if the referee or the ringside doctor deem it too dangerous for the fight to continue. A fight that lasts the full 12 rounds ‘goes to the distance’, as coined by commentators in the mid-20th century.

The main arbiter of every boxing match is the referee, who is in the ring. His role is to watch for any foul play, assess each boxer’s ability to continue, and count to 8 when one of the boxers is down.

Aside from the ref, there are also three judges sitting right by the ring. Their role is to follow the bout and assign points to the boxers. A boxer can score points in various ways — by punching, completing a knockdown, defending, and clinching. Even though the rules a pretty straight, the judges assign points on a subjective basis. Their opinions often differ, and you can regularly hear boxers complaining about being ‘robbed.’

Boxers may only use their fists to hit the opponents. No biting, scratching, kicking, elbowing, punching below the waist, headbutting, tripping, pushing, or spitting is allowed. Fighters are also forbidden from hitting an opponent in the neck, the back of the hard, or landing any sort of punch while the other guy/gal has their back turned on them. You also can’t duck below your opponent’s belt or hold onto the ropes. Suppose any of the two boxers breaks a rule. In that case, the ref can issue verbal warnings, deduct points, or straight-up disqualify the offender.

However, occasions when a boxer is accidentally headbutted or receives an unintentional blow to the groin. No penalties are handed out in such situations, and the fighter that was struck is given five minutes to recover. If they aren’t able to do so, then the fight results in a ‘no contest ruling. This means that there’s no winner due to unforeseen circumstances.

Speaking about possible results — in how many ways can a boxer actually defeat his adversary? Let’s find out.

Winning Methods

boxing winner

Every boxer’s goal is to win the match. It’s as simple as that. However, the road to victory comes in the form of several different avenues. The factors at play include actions taken by both boxers and the assessment of personnel such as the ref, the fight doctors, and each fighter’s crew in the corner. This is important when looking for the best boxing betting odds, as you can find lines relating to each outcome. Here are all the winning methods:

  • Knockout (KO) – When a boxer touches the ring floor with any part of his body other than his feet, he’s considered knocked down. Then, the ref starts counting to eight, and this continues even if the player gets up. Because it would be controversial for a ref to end the fight because a boxer got up a millisecond later. The count continues to ten. If the boxer still doesn’t get up, he is considered knocked out, and his opponent automatically wins the fight. Even if Round 11 and his opponent won all the rounds, he could still claim victory by a knockout punch. A KO is called even if a player is conscious.
  • Technical Knockout (TKO) – A TKO occurs when a ref, a doctor, or a member of the corner crew determines it’s unsafe for a boxer to continue the match. For instance, if the fighter is bleeding profusely due to a cut, a TKO is called because it’s not safe for him to continue fighting. Further punches to the injured area might result in the wound expanding, blood loss, or even an infection. Even if a fighter doesn’t have any visible injuries, the ref can call a TKO if said fighter seems disoriented, dizzy, or slow. Some jurisdictions have a ‘standing eight rule.’ Just like with KOs, the ref counts to eight. However, this situation involves the fighter standing on his feet.
  • Decision (D) – KO and TKO require a match to be stopped due to one of the boxers getting knocked out or being unable to defend himself. On the other hand, a win by the decision can only occur if the match goes the distance — the full 12 rounds. If none of the fighters manages to land a knockout, the three judges add up the points, and each of them proclaims who they think is the winner. When all three judges pick the same winner, it’s a win by unanimous decision (UD). If two judges agree, and the third calls a draw, the boxer whom the first two picked wins by majority decision (MD). In the case of one judge picking one fighter and the others picking the other, it’s a win by split decision (SD).
  • Technical Decision (TD) – Unlike a normal win by decision, a boxer wins by technical decision if their opponent sustains an inadvertent injury. For instance, a TD can occur if the two guys are in a clinch. One gets accidentally headbutted and is unable to continue the match. If the ref determines that the injury wasn’t intentional and that the headbutted fighter is unable to continue, a TD is called. However, for a TD to be called, a match must have gone past the halfway point or the 4th round. The exact interpretation depends on the governing body under whose patronage the fight is organized.
  • Disqualification (DQ) – A boxer can win by DQ if his opponent commits repeated fouls or breaks the rules severely enough so that the ethics of the sport are in jeopardy. Usually, when the ref notices some funny business going on, he tells the fighter(s) to knock it off or directs a points deduction. If the warned fighter doesn’t oblige, he is disqualified, and his opponent automatically wins the match. Sometimes, both fighters can break the rules, which can result in a double DQ. Then, the match is without a victor.

Aside from the aforementioned outcomes, a match can also end in a draw or be declared no contest. A draw occurs in the following situations:

  • All three judges can’t decide on a winner.
  • The first judge picks one winner, the second pick the other, while the third calls a draw. This is a split draw (SD).
  • Two judges call a draw, while the third selects a winner. This is a majority draw (MD).
  • When a fighter gets inadvertently injured before the 4th round or the halfway point of the match, thereby preventing the judges from calling a win by TD. This is a technical draw (TD). In the US, however, most states have moved away from calling this outcome. Instead, all accidental injuries before a specific point end in a no-contest result.
  • The last possible result you might encounter in boxing betting is no contest (NC). Such an outcome occurs when one or both boxers cannot continue with the match because of outside circumstances. A fine example of an NC is when Bernard Hopkins faced Robert Allen in Las Vegas in 1998. While breaking up the clinch, the ref accidentally pushed Hopkins out of the ring. Since neither Allen nor Hopkins was at fault, the judges ruled in NC.

Where to Find Boxing Betting Websites?

What makes a person good at boxing betting? Right off the top of our heads, there are obvious things, such as reading a guide on online boxing betting, finding the right lines, watching previous fights, etc. All these factors are essential building blocks on your road to placing winning bets consistently.

To be able to do so, you need a proper platform. That’s why you must find a good boxing betting site. If you’re unsure about where to start — don’t worry. NostraBet has you covered. Check out our guide on the top-rated bookmakers for boxing betting. All of the sites on the list are 100% legal and have a solid reputation. Visit them all, compare them, and take the next step on your road to victory.

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However, there’s also a chance that you might run into an exciting site but are unsure what to make of it. If such a thing happens, it’s best to be armed with the knowledge necessary to determine whether the bookie is good or not. Look for these things, and you’ll be able to come to a conclusion in no time:

  • Variety of bets – It’s not enough to be able to bet on who will win the match. Oftentimes, boxing betting lines for this market aren’t all that lucrative, especially if it’s a one-sided affair. The very best boxing bookies include round betting, total rounds, whether the fight will go the distance or the outcome. The more markets you have at your disposal, the easier it is to find a winning formula.
  • Bonuses – Even though you might have devised a proper budgeting system, too many lost bets can derail your plans. That’s why you need to target boxing betting sites with good and fair bonuses. By getting free cash from the bookie, you’re not risking your own money, and you can create parlays without any stress involved. This is essential when you’re a beginner, as it allows you to make rookie mistakes and learn without bankrupting yourself.
  • On-site stats – Prepping for an action-packed night of boxing involves a lot of preparation. The whole process becomes a lot easier if you can access both fighters’ stats at a betting site. You can see their records, style preferences, and much more. When everything is in one place, you save a lot of time that you would have otherwise spent Googling incessantly. Find a bookie with a state-based approach to boxing betting. As an added bonus, some sites also have all their boxing bets explained, just so beginners like you can ease in.
  • Licensing and reputation – Don’t even consider playing at bookmakers without a license. It’s much more than a piece of paper — a license guarantees that the bookmaker abides by certain rules and that they’re not running a scam. In addition to this, you can also contact the licensor if you believe you’ve been wrong. They will provide you with arbitration and penalize the bookie if need be.

Boxing Divisions and Weights

boxing fight

To learn how to bet on boxing online, you must understand how fights are organized. You can’t just put any fighter against any other fighter and hope for an exciting match. Boxing governing bodies decided to separate fighters according to their body weight to keep fights as exciting and evenly matched as possible. Thus, weight classes were introduced.

This happened at the start of the 20th century, and there were eight classes at first. It became forbidden to fight anyone below or above your weight class in official matches. Experts believe this led to the sport becoming a global phenomenon, as the playing field became much more even.

Before this categorization was implemented, you could see a 220-pound guy beating the living daylights out of his 150-pound opponent. Uneven bouts were frequent, and the smaller boxers used to sustain terrible injuries. Usually, when a fighter is heavier, that means he can punch with greater force. From the get-go, the smaller guys are at a disadvantage.

Today, we have 17 weight classes. The number slowly grew from the original eight, as governing bodies realized that more nuance was required to make every single match competitive. Here are all the classes and the maximum weight limits for being in each class:

  1. Minimumweight: 105 lbs. (48 kg)
  2. Light flyweight: 108 lbs. (49 kg)
  3. Flyweight: 112 lbs. (51 kg)
  4. Super flyweight: 115 lbs. (52 kg)
  5. Bantamweight: 118 lbs. (53.5 kg)
  6. Super bantamweight: 122 lbs. (55 kg)
  7. Featherweight: 126 lbs. (57 kg)
  8. Super featherweight: 130 lbs. (59 kg)
  9. Lightweight: 135 lbs. (61 kg)
  10. Super lightweight: 140 lbs. (63.5 kg)
  11. Welterweight: 147 lbs. (67 kg)
  12. Super welterweight: 154 lbs. (70 kg)
  13. Middleweight: 160 lbs. (72.5 kg)
  14. Super middleweight: 168 lbs. (76 kg)
  15. Light heavyweight: 175 lbs. (79 kg)
  16. Cruiserweight: 200 lbs. (91 kg)
  17. Heavyweight: 200 lbs. and above

In today’s boxing world, fighters are measured the day before the fight. This is what’s called a weigh-in. They began being broadcasted during the Muhammad Ali era in the 60s, mainly as a means of hyping people up. If one fighter is either too heavy or too light, he is given until the next day to meet the required weight.

When a boxer is too heavy, he can use cardio exercises and dieting to cut a few pounds. When a guy is too light, a carbohydrate-heavy meal or two can do the trick. However, there are cases when a fighter can’t meet the required weight. In such situations, the governing bodies and the promoters decide to take one of the following two courses of action:

  • The fight is called off, and the fighter who didn’t meet the weight is penalized. It takes time and money to organize a fight, so a boxer who was irresponsible gets to pay certain fines. This can range from covering the promotion costs and the travel expenses to paying a certain amount of money per pound above/below the weight limit.
  • A catchweight is agreed upon. Okay, so what’s a catchweight? It’s an arbitrary number agreed upon so that the match is competitive. When one of the fighters is heavier and needs to cut weight, this can affect his performance. Imagine having to jog for three hours per day for a week in a hoodie and eat nothing for two days, just to drop a couple of pounds. Sounds hard, right? The governing body, the promoters, and the fighters’ teams agree to a catchweight to accommodate such situations. This means the heavier fighter can regain a certain number of pounds for his performance to be unaffected. The opponent doesn’t have to agree to this, and if he doesn’t — the fight is called off. In the case of a title fight, even if a catchweight is agreed upon, the challenger won’t get the belt if he wins. Non-title fights proceed as usual.

It’s also worth mentioning that fighters are free to switch classes and can even hold a title in multiple weight classes at the same time. Manny Pacquiao, for instance, won titles in eight different classes during his career. Usually, when a fighter gains weight, his style is altered a bit, which makes for unpredictability and good entertainment.

Professional Boxing and Federations

A professional boxing match is any bout that involves either the winner or both boxers receiving a purse. In contrast with amateur boxing, pro bouts are longer, have more rounds, and fighters can take much more of a beating before the ref calls a TKO. Pros can’t use protective headgear, while amateurs can.

Every professional match is overseen by one of boxing’s four major federations. Their histories are intertwined, and they fully recognize each other. Regardless of who organizes a fight, it’s customary to have a representative to ensure that all the rules are being followed. When there are title fights, the organization’s representative also hands the belt to the winner. And speaking of belts, here are all four major governing bodies in the boxing world:

  • World Boxing Association (WBA)
    The WBA is the oldest sanctioning body in professional boxing, having been founded in 1921. Before, it was named the National Boxing Association (NBA). Its initial purpose was to oversee pro matches in the US. It was rebranded to WBA in 1952, both due to boxing becoming a global sport and the other NBA growing in popularity. Today, its headquarters are in Panama, and more than 100 countries are official members.
  • World Boxing Council (WBC)
    Founded in 1963, the WBC first encompassed 11 countries. Nowadays, with 161 members and some of the most memorable fights of all time under its belt, the WBC is considered the big dog of the big four. It also has nine regional bodies under its tutelage. Oh, and they were the first ones to decrease the maximum number of rounds from 15 to 12, with other governing bodies quickly following suit.
  • World Boxing Organization (WBO)
    The WBO was initially formed by a group of businessmen who were unhappy with how some rules were applied. It kicked off in 1988, with a couple of less-coveted fights. Initially, there were many hardships because many boxing magazines, reporters, and even the other organizations simply didn’t recognize it. In 2007, it became a full-fledged member of the big four.
  • International Boxing Federation (IBF)
    Another breakaway organization, the IBF, began life in 1983 as a product of the frustration of Robber W. Lee Sr., after he lost a bit to become the president of the WBA. After a couple of corruption and bribery scandals in the 1990s, the IBF finally found its footing in the early 2000s. It also holds the honour of being the only global boxing organization with a female president. Hiawatha Knight was a trailblazer in the sport and is fondly remembered by many.

A boxer that holds all four belts at once is called the undisputed world champion. In the four-belt era (from 2007 and onwards, when the WBO was recognized), only four men achieved this feat — Oleksandr Usyk, Bernard Hopkins, Jermain Taylor, and Terence Crawford.

Amateur Boxing

Boxing betting doesn’t just involve pro bouts. You can also place wagers on matches at the Olympic Games, Pan American Games, and the Commonwealth Games. There’s also the Boxing World Championship, which has risen in popularity these past few years. The Olympics are always the main attraction, even after professional competitors were allowed to enter in 2016.

Despite the rule change, many boxers are unwilling to risk their health and career by competing in non-paid matches. Usually, a fighter competes in the WC and the Olympics to gain experience and notoriety before turning pro and focusing solely on matches sanctioned by the WBA, WBC, WBO, and IBF.

While there are many more organizations and tournaments, we would advise you to stick to the aforementioned competitions. Technically, every governing body, no matter how small, has the ability and the right to alter the rules of the game. While this creates a lot of excitement, it creates even more confusion. From five judges to special outcomes, there’s just too much variation. The only consistent rule is that headgear is permitted.

Short History and Facts

Believe it or not, boxing is one of the oldest recorded sporting activities in all of human history. The sport has existed for over 5,000 years, as archaeologists found paintings and sculptures of men fist-fighting in present-day Iran and Iraq. So, ever since the Sumerian empire, people have been fascinated with combat sports. They were also a popular way of resolving disputes and preserving one’s honour.

However, it was only in Ancient Greece when the sport became a massively popular activity. Around 1500-1400 BC, fighters began using gloves. Even then, people realized that punches could severely injure someone. Therefore, using protection turned boxing into a proper sport, instead of a bloodbath, like it was before. In 688 BC, it was added to the Olympic games.

Ancient Romans were the ones to turn boxing into true entertainment. Wrapping their hands in leather wraps, fighters would engage in combat in front of tens of thousands of spectators. There were no rules at the time. It was customary for the fight to cease if one boxer admitted defeat or physically couldn’t continue.

In the Middle Ages, weapons became massively popular, so pretty much everyone lost interest in fistfights. Fencing was all the craze up until the 1600s. That’s when bare-knuckle boxing surfaced, mainly in England and Ireland. At this time, the term ‘boxing’ became a common name for this beloved sport. However, there were no rules at the time.

The Birth of Modern Boxing

1743 saw a drastic change, as champion Jack Broughton was fed up with people dying and getting severely injured. He proposed that the match should be stopped if a fighter was down for more than 30 seconds. Additionally, Broughton’s rules also outlawed hitting below the waist and punched an opponent when he’s down. The London Prize Ring Rules added onto this, forbidding scratching, gouging, biting, and everything that’s not a close-fisted punch.

All of these developments lead to the birth of modern boxing in 1862. Notable Welsh sportsman John Chambers saw potential in boxing, so he came up with a set of rules, many of which we use today. He called on the Marquees of Queensberry, a Scottish nobleman, to help him publish the rules. Under the Marquees’ patronage, the rules were released and legitimized, becoming forever known as the Queensberry rules. They are the basis for boxing as we know it today.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, many governments outlawed prizefighting. It was illegal to fight for any kind of reward. Any fighters who were caught were tried for assault or even attempted murder. Nevertheless, the sport became so popular that there were illegal venues on every corner. In 1920, the state of New York saw professional boxing finally become legal with the passing of Walker’s law.

While this may have sounded like a history lesson, it’s actually not. Knowing the history of the sport is essential if you want to understand boxing betting. Sure, you need to know what’s going on, but the historical context lets you know why it’s going on. Boxing is constantly evolving. Following its evolution from the very beginning can help you predict what might happen in the future.

Final Thoughts

See? That wasn’t so hard, was it? Boxing betting is one of the most exciting activities a bettor can take up. Matches are fast-paced and brutal but also involve a lot of finesse, preparation, and thinking. It’s also the perfect sport to follow, given the fact that fights never last long. And with a large number of potential outcomes, you can easily find juicy boxing betting lines at all times.

Start off slow, first by watching past fights and analyzing the roles. Afterwards, you can start off with high-profile matches, only to dive deeper and deeper as you gain more experience and win more bets. What are you waiting for? The bell has rung, and it’s time to bet!


How does boxing betting work?

In boxing betting, you can bet on several things — the winner, the winning method, and even the exact round in which you think the fight will end. Basically, anything that can be measured and recorded is a valid choice. Prop bets, futures, and live bets are also gaining traction.

How to place a bet on a boxing match?

To place a bet on a boxing match, you first have to create an account at a betting site. We highly recommend that you choose one of the sites on our list, as they’re all safe and worth your time. Then, you can choose a deposit method, add money to your account and start planning. Check all the cards in the near future and do some research. Round your choices down to just a few value bets and maintain consistency. And most importantly — be financially responsible!

What is round betting in boxing?

As the name suggests, round betting is simply betting on which round will mark the end of the fight. You can choose any of the 12 rounds, including ‘the fight goes the distance.’ To make as many correct assumptions and possible, analyze both fighters’ playing styles. If both are defensive stalwarts, then you shouldn’t hope for a quick end. Brawlers, on the other hand, can finish their opponent off in a blink of an eye.

There’s also grouped around betting. It’s basically an easier version of the regular market, as it gives you a window of three rounds in which the fight might end. Regular round betting lets you pick the 4th round, while group round betting can help you win by choosing rounds 4-6 at the same time.

Is boxing betting hard?

Not at all. You just need a bit of time to get a feel for the sport. Make sure to watch as many matches as possible and do some reading on different fighting styles and techniques. This will make you see things more easily, which, in turn, will let you place more winning bets. Preparation and knowledge are everything, and no luck.

Kristiyan Kyulyunkov
Kristiyan Kyulyunkov
Certified Expert Certified Expert
Kristiyan Kyulyunkov specializes in bookmakers’ analyses. He has years of experience betting online and always keeps an eye on the different operators. His tasks in Nostrabet include writing, editing and publishing expert reviews.