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The most difficult of popular sports for the spectator to score is boxing, which has no goal lines to cross or hoops to put a ball through or any other well-defined means of signifying that thus and so many points have been made. Still, the way to enjoy a fight thoroughly is to keep your own score.
This is a problem in round-by-round judgment, based on keen observation from a good vantage point. It's hard enough to score a fight accurately from ringside, but a fight viewed on television is seen as through a glass darkly. It is not always possible to determine whether a televised punch has landed solidly in a scoring area or has been slipped or blocked. The swarming fighter who throws punches unceasingly but without good aim may land far less frequently than the sharpshooter who blocks, slips and rides away from such flurries. But on TV the swarmer may look wonderful.
For all that, an attentive television watcher can, except in extremely close fights, come near to matching the scoring of honest, competent officials. Here's how:
At the end of each round mark down who you think won it and by how many points, using the scoring system of the state where the bout is being fought (see below). Give credit for clean hits on the front or sides of the body above the belt (except, of course, the shoulders and arms) and none at all for punches on the back, like those you will see when two boxers are locked in close embrace. Give somewhat less credit for aggressiveness (provided it is effective and not mere dramatics), for defensive work (provided it is not merely passive) and for "ring generalship."
A fighter who backs away constantly but lands sharp jabs and occasional hooks and rights as he retreats is not necessarily unaggressive. If he lands more and better punches than his advancing but missing opponent, give him credit for them and for defensive work and ring generalship as well. On the other hand, the fighter who merely retreats and covers up is not fighting at all. Give his opponent credit for forcing the fight. Generally speaking, the fighter who leads the most and lands the most clean hits wins the round. A knockdown counts heavily—enough to win almost any round.
FOULS AND PENALTIES
A clean hit may be a light jab or a solid, damaging hook. Naturally, the hook counts for much more, though some jabs are real head-snappers. The effectiveness of the blow is what tallies and effectiveness is a matter of where the punch lands and how hard it is delivered. Vital targets are the head, especially jaws and chin, the abdomen just above the belt, and the heart area.
Fouls are usually classified as major and minor. The following list, from the rules of the New York State Athletic Commission, approximates that of most states:
Hitting an opponent who is down or is rising from down.