Tom Knight - Amateur vs Professional Boxing

Ever wondered what the difference is between Amateur & Professional Boxing?

In this article Tom Knight explains the key differences between the two!


Amateur Boxing

Amateur boxing is a highly technical sport; one that requires just as much hard work and dedication, if not more, than the professional side. The only downfall being that you are unable to be paid to box.

I believe by taking away the element of being paid to box you make Amateur boxing into more of a sport; making everyone fight harder to get the win. This version of boxing is the only Olympic sport where the professionals are unable to compete.

When I boxed at amateur level, the whole system was highly different to what it has become recently.

Each Amateur fight lasts 3 x 3 minute rounds with 1 minute rest in-between rounds. There are 4 judges that sit around the ring in Amateur boxing, and they each have two buttons; one for yourself and one for your rival. To score, you needed at least 3 of the judges to press your button within a split second of each other for the computer to pick it up and score you a point. This was known as Olympic scoring; and is completely different to how a fight is scored in a professional bout. Unlike the professionals at the time, we had to wear head guards.

Recently however, these elements of Amateur boxing have changed and the sport is becoming increasingly like the professional side.

The fights are scored the same be it a professional bout or an amateur bout, and the ability to wear a head guard has been taken away.

To box regularly at an amateur level you always have to be ready; sometimes you only get half a days’ notice. You could wake up ready to face a normal day of training and get a last minute phone-call that would have you suddenly preparing yourself mentally for a fight. You always had to be training, to make sure that if the phone-call did come; you were ready.

The training involved mainly included sparring, circuits and drills based on improving technique; for the amateurs, good technique would beat strength any day of the week.

Professional Boxing

As previously explained, professional boxers have a wage come the end of fight night. This makes the professional side of boxing more of a business. The amount of money you are entitled to at the end of your fight depending hugely on ticket sales and a win or a loss.

As far as the boxing is concerned, there are as many similarities as there are differences; professional fights can last anywhere from 4 x 3 minute rounds, to 12 x 3 minute rounds, and unlike amateur boxing, you can’t rely solely on good technique. You have to be physically bigger and a lot stronger to endure consistent punishment for such a long period of time. Instead of training continuously like amateurs waiting for the phone-call, you train in camps with the fight night on a set date with a set opponent.

A training camp consists of weeks of training (how many weeks you train for will depend on the length of your fight), but all camps will contain 3 phases. These will include;

-          Strength

-          Fitness

-          Sparring


These camps are very strenuous on your body, so after fight night you have to rest and let your body recuperate before the next camp begins.

In order to carry out such a tough training regime, you need to ensure your diet is rich of nutrients to fuel your body at the right times of the day, whether it’s before, during or after a session; and you also have to make sure you are supplementing your diet correctly to help protect your bones and muscles from incurring any damage.

The correct diet, supplementation and liquid intake can help to make sure you are as light as you can be while holding your strength, speed and durability.


Strength Phase – this is where you work on the explosiveness in your training, working on exploding through your feet and up through your body to help fuel your attacks, your punches with as much power as possible. You also need to work on your neck, your back and your core to ensure these elements of your body are strong enough to absorb your opponents’ attacks.


Fitness Phase – as I explained previously, the camp differs depending on how many rounds you do; so any fitness that you do has to increase your level of fitness to make sure you can go the distance as comfortably as possible. For example, wouldn’t be any point doing the fitness required for 4 rounds if you’re expected to fight for 8 rounds – That wouldn’t be a very wise move!


Sparring Phase sparring gives you the chance to perfect and polish the skills and techniques that you learn through your camps. If you make any changes to your camp or to your style it gives you the opportunity to practice what you have learnt and to see whether it is effective; it also allows you to get your timing right and gives you experience to learn to adapt in any fight situation.


Overall, amateur and professional boxing are becoming increasingly alike to try and make the transition to turn professional easier for up and coming amateur talent.
Boxing will always be just that; boxing.

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