Professional and Amateur: What is similar and different

There are two distinct boxing worlds: Professional and Amateur.  Although they appear to be similar at first glance, there are significant differences.


Professional Boxing

A professional boxer’s goal is to win a fight even if it requires inflicting injury on his opponent. He must balance aggression, emotional control, confidence, and psychological strength. It is the successful application of both boxing skills and the above which will enable him to obtain competitive success.

A boxer enters this sport understanding its dangers. But he also understands the challenge he will face inside the ring as one which requires he forgets emotions and focuses on applying his best boxing skills so that he emerges the sole winner. After the bell sounds he will do whatever is necessary to outwit or disable his opponent in his quest to win the fight. It is not surprising to see professional boxing fights billed as a ‘war between combatants’. The actions of a boxer can be defended because its rules provide a guideline which enable the fighters to perform these skills inside the ring in a manner that does not raise the possibility of criminal prosecution.

Boxing is a sport where the participants walk a fine line between aggression and violence. Both are behaviors are permitted.  The physical outcomes such as injuries (or markings such as bruises, cuts, blood) are seen as legitimate, natural, and necessary. The boxer’s actions inside the ring would be deemed violent and potentially criminal if they were performed outside the ring.  To prevent serious injury and/or death boxing is heavily regulated and there are enforced rules.

For professional boxers to gain points, aggressiveness, knock-downs and injuries to an opponent counts greatly.  Technical knock outs and knock outs are the main objective of a professional boxer, especially because to score a high number of them will help increase the amount of money he could earn in future fights.

Amateur Boxing

An amateur boxers goals greatly differ from a professional boxer.  Amateur boxing is potentially less violent and dangerous than professional boxing due to a number of factors:

  • Heavier gloves (cushion impact)
  • Additional safety rules and gear
  • Points are earned by landing punches to target areas

Technical knock outs and knock outs are not the goal of an amateur boxer, but a consequence if and when it occurs.

In amateur boxing, power in the ring is not only exerted through physical domination, but also an application of psychological intimidation to defeat ones challenger. This is accomplished by reducing control during the bout. The test of power between the boxers suggests intentional, psychologically aggressive thinking that is supported by a physical exchange of gloved fist punches to the target areas of the head and chest. This is important in helping a boxer maintain the upper hand and winning. Like the professional, amateur boxers must balance aggression, emotional control and confidence.

Professional and amateur boxers are of the same family

Professional boxing is not the only true form of boxing and amateur boxing is not ‘boxing light’. Both are boxers and their contests provide a test to see who is the better.  When boxers enter the ring there is a match-up of the following challengers who both are:

  1. Highly trained, conditioned and possess the means to out punch or knock out (professional) or out point (amateur) his challenger.
  2. Ready to test his training, ability to maintain his conditioning throughout and successfully adjust both skills and thoughts to out think, out smart, and/or up-end his challenger’s boxing strategy.

Boxing is a test of physical skill, strength and mental stamina.

It is his mental and physical strength, both raw instincts and skilled control, which a boxer applies and manages throughout the bout. But professional and amateur boxing rules provide different guidelines for what is permissible by the boxers during the bout. A boxer’s test transcends both professional or amateur rules. The boxer who can successfully master the fundamentals will always be judged the winner.

Professional vs. Amateur bout

What if a professional and amateur were to box? What would be the likely outcome for combatants trained to box with slightly different goals? The 2016 Olympics provides a case study. This was the first Olympics where professional and amateur boxers were permitted to compete. The initial fear was that amateurs would be out boxed and possibly seriously injured by professional boxers. But the outcomes of several bouts proved otherwise. With amateur rules in place, several professional boxers lost to amateur boxers. There was also one major upset where a professional boxer was knocked out by an amateur. For more on this issue see the post Opinion: Pros in Olympic boxing- Amateurs proved we are also masters of the art of boxing.


2016 Olympic Upset
Ranked professional Petar Maukovic, a light heavyweight (red) was KOed in the first round by amateur Juan Carlos Carrillo (blue). Carrillo out boxed Maukovic throughout the round. For possible reasons why see the post The Word is out- I pull no punches and the Table below: Amateur vs. Professional Boxing Punch Stats Comparisons. For a more detailed comparison between Professional and Amateur Boxing see Boxing 101. Pay particular attention to Objectives.

Despite the differences in objectives, professional and amateur boxers are of the same family who share a fascination with  practicing ‘the manly art’.

TABLE: Amateur vs. Professional Boxing Punch Stats Comparisons from Boxing Science


Author: Ed Cheng

28, 5'-8.5" 160's Los Angeles native of Chinese-American descent, Jersey City resident, civil engineer, and amateur boxer. I was christened at birth by my paternal grandfather as The Warrior King (战士之王). I have boxed since the age of 10 and as a youth competed in regional and national Police Athletic League (PAL) championships and the Silver Gloves Tournaments (Golden Gloves for ages 10 - 15). As an adult I have competed in numerous amateur boxing bouts as well as the Golden Gloves, and I am a three time middleweight champion. I occasionally spar professionally ranked boxers. Although I work as a full-time civil engineer, I still have time to spar, box in amateur contests, and coach men and women intermediate boxers. Through an unusual agreement, I am a licensed professional boxer in Japan. Since 2013, I have boxed in exhibition bouts where I boxed nearly two dozen professionally-ranked super middleweight, middleweight, or light heavyweight boxers in the United States, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. This is not a blog solely about current professional boxing personalities, boxing rankings, and the latest buzz about boxing. You may be surprised by several of the topics discussed here. But it is written from a male perspective and is not intended to dismiss a female one. My objective is to provide a view through the eyes of one amateur boxer to show you the life from both inside and outside the ropes.