UPPER CUT! JAB, JAB! FIIIIIIIIIIGHT! Full disclosure: We’re in Vegas for the big Mayweather-Pacquiao fight this weekend, but until recently, could not tell you anything about anything about boxing. Except that there’s hitting. We needed a crash course in Boxing 101.
Turns out, we have an expert in the building: Entertainment Tonight’s Kevin Frazier, who's worked for ESPN and been an anchor on SportsCenter and Fox Sports Network and SportsNet. Seems qualified enough to answer all of our questions:
1. Is the boxing actually real? Or is it fake like WWE? “Boxing is 100 percent real,” he said. “There are very old men who shake because they’ve gotten hit in the head. I mean, guys die in boxing. Not that they won’t get hurt in wrestling, but men have died in the ring. It’s very real, and the hits are very, very hard.”
2. What’s the difference between boxing and MMA? “The grappling. This guy Antonio Inoki who fought Muhammad Ali, he was a Japanese wrestler and mixed martial artist, and it was a bust of a fight because Ali stayed on his feet and [Inoki] laid on his back the whole time. The difference is, they can kick. It’s brutal. But they’re different sports.”
3. Do you score points in boxing? If so, how? Yes. “In amateur boxing, it’s with your gloves. There are areas actually marked on your gloves, so when you hit a body shot or a face shot, you get points. The same thing goes in [professional] boxing. Depending on the fight and whether it’s the 10-point must system or whatever, they’ll have a round and assign points to each boxer for that round.”
[FYI: The 10-point must system means that a judge must -- hence the name -- award 10 points to at least one fighter in each of the twelve rounds. Then, they deduct points for things like knockdowns from that 10 points.]
4. Why does the referee pull the fighters apart sometimes? “So that there is fair punching. Sometimes within fighting, there’s holding, there’s grabbing, there’s clutching, and the referee wants to stop all the clutching and pushing. Because boxing is about boxing, using your fists to get ahead. You don’t want to grab a hold and all that stuff, and that happens a lot when guys are close fighting. So the referee will break them up.”
“And headbutting too! The headbutt is a big deal! So many times, a guy is in a fight and their heads come together, and a fighter will sustain a cut that could end the fight for him.”
5. Is there anything you can’t do in boxing? Yes. “There are lots of things you can’t do. You can’t run your laces across guy’s faces. You can’t hold the back of their head. You can’t punch below the belt. I know it seems like a barbaric and brutal sport, but there are real, real rules to it.”
6. Does a knockout actually mean you are knocked unconscious? No. “A knockout means you are unable to continue. So many times guys will get knocked down a couple of times, or you’ll see they’re down but they can’t get up on the 10 count, so you’re knocked out, but you are able to climb to your feet.
“There’s also a K.O. and a TKO [technical knockout]. So a lot of times for a TKO, when people are trying to get to their feet or stumbling and they just can’t go on, the ref stops it because he says, ‘You know what, this guy is done. He can’t take any more punishment.’ The referee is actually trying to protect the fighter from any more punishment. Or [the fighter’s] corner says, ‘No more, we’re throwing in.’”
7. Can you quit in the middle the match if you want? Yes. “You can quit at any time. The most famous matches where someone quits was Roberto Durán, and what was called the ‘No Más! Fight’ against Sugar Ray Leonard. At a point, [Durán] was just like, ‘No más.’ And he came out, and he waved off his glove, and he walked to the corner, and everyone was like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ Roberto Durán quit in the middle of the fight.”
8. Can the ref or someone else force you to quit if they decide you’re too injured? “All the time. The referee is there to protect fighters, so you will often see, between rounds, when someone is hurt or they’re cut, [the ref will] call the doctor in to look at them. The referee, at any time, can stop at give the fighter an eight count...If the referee feels like that you can no longer defend yourself and basically you’re out there to get hurt, he can immediately stop the fight.
“And that’s really what’s supposed to happen. Historically, people have been like, This guy has a tough chin so let him fight through it -- but what would happen was, guys would get really hurt because they’d stand up there and take these huge blows and somehow stay on their feet and later on in their lives, the damage was massive.”
9. Has anyone ever died during a boxing match? Yes. “One of the most famous ones in recent memory, because we all watched it on TV, was Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini fought a kid from Korea named Kim Duk-Koo.
“Duk-Koo was a young fighter. He came over. They fought in the heat of Vegas. And he kept taking these punches, these crazy punches, from Ray Mancini. He kept coming forward and finally, he got knocked down and he got knocked out, and when he got knocked out, his head hit the rope and he went into a coma and never recovered from the coma.”
Now, hear even more of what Kevin Frazier has to say about the big fight, including who he thinks will win, in this round of ET’s “Fast Five”: