Clean punching, effective aggression, ring generalship, and defense. How many times have we heard HBO's Harold Lederman spew that line as being the criteria used by judges scoring a fight? If your like me you're sick and tired of hearing this over and over on each telecast, especially when you know that it's not really true. If that's the case, why do they provide us with compubox-punch stat, (which I can't stand)?

Look, I've been watching/following boxing for 35 years and can't remember the last round I scored for a fighter who exhibited the best defense. I thought the object was to score and land the more telling and meaningful punches in the fight. The object of boxing is to hit and not get hit, with the emphasis on hitting. It's only human nature to be swayed by the fighter who is being the most effective offensively.

I am in no way stating that clean punching is the only factor that counts when scoring a fight, because it's not. What I am saying is that clean punching and effective aggression carry more weight than ring general ship and defense. I say this because if fighter A is scoring with clean punches, basically he's being the effective aggressor and is preventing the other fighter from exhibiting good defense and ring generalship. Clean punching is the easiest for a judge to see and score, it's the other categories that aren't as easily defined.

Let's take a look at the four categories

CLEAN PUNCHING: As stated earlier this is the most easily recognized of all the categories. Sharp crisp stinging jabs, clean flush right hands, short tight hooks and uppercuts. These are the punches that stand out and catch the eye. The fighter who is landing these punches is most likely controlling the fight regardless of the other three categories!

EFFECTIVE AGGRESSION: I believe this is the most misinterpreted of the four categories. Effective aggression is more than just a fighter moving forward. Effective aggression is what Frazier did to Ali in Super Fight I. Effective aggression is what Duran did to Leonard in their first fight. What Frazier and Duran did was score effectively and cleanly as they were moving forward carrying the action setting the pace. The effective aggressor must be scoring and landing. A good example of what effective aggression isn't, is what we saw in the Chavez-Whitaker fight. Yes, Chavez was the aggressor throughout the fight, but he wasn't scoring cleanly if at all while applying the pressure. The same applies in the Hopkins-Trinidad bout. Trinidad was moving towards Hopkins but in the process was getting hit pretty regularly and was easily being outscored. While Trinidad was the aggressor, he wasn't landing or scoring, his aggression was completely neutralized by Hopkins. The effective aggressor must be connecting with clean punches while not being tattooed on the way in.

RING GENERALSHIP: This also is somewhat left up to an individual's interpretation. Basically ring general ship is the fighter exhibiting the cleaner and more professional boxing form and skill. Another words, he looks like a professional fighter, and not some wild swinging novice. He shows his skill in throwing his punches correctly and understands how to impose what he wants to do in the ring while negating what his opponent is trying to do. Ring generalship also is when a fighter can dictate the flow of the fight in order to breakdown his opponents style. Another example would be a fighter going to the body if the opponent has protected his face well, leaving the body as the more viable target.

DEFENSE: Defense is pretty much self explanatory. This category is basically how a fighter protects himself in the ring. Defense is making your opponent miss with his punches. This can be achieved a number of ways. A fighter can use his legs to move away from the punch, or he can slip to one side or the other to make the punch miss. He also can block the shot with his gloves and arms by keeping his elbows in and his hands up so he is in position to nullify and block the punch.

All four categories are important while trying to score a fight but, it's quite obvious that clean punching and effective aggression are what really dictates who wins the round. Clean punching is what both fighters try to do from the onset of every bout. The goal in the fight is to subdue the opponent. To do this a fighter must use his hands to strike his opposition in order to render him unconscious or ineffective to gain control of the fight. The only way one fighter can gain the advantage over his opponent is to strike him, it's really quite simple. Without one fighter scoring and landing clean punches, effective aggression, ring generalship, and defense are a non-factor.

Writers Note
I'm willing to bet that most boxing fans consider all four categories. I'm also willing to best that most boxing fans give the most weight to punches landed cleanly!