Why Women’s Boxing Needs Three Minute Rounds
By Eric Coronado Jr.: Last weekend we saw Claressa Shields (9-0-0, 2 KOs) masterfully dismantle long-time undefeated champion Christina Hammer, who now has a record of 24-1-0. Considering Shield’s accomplishments as a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and Hammer’s impressive reign as WBO female middleweight champion, this event should have been one of the biggest fights of the year. What viewers received, however, was a lackluster undercard and ten, two-minute rounds of action that left veteran boxing fans desiring more. A future where women headline boxing’s pay-per-view events is simply unrealistic without the short-term goal of increasing the length of time and the number of rounds that women have to fight.
Just over a year ago, the WBC President, Mauricio Sulaiman stated:
During the second annual Women’s boxing Convention last year in Tijuana, there were over 40 fighters present during the presentation by Dr. Choe from UCLA. She emphatically described, with facts, how the bone structure of women is different than men, specifically in the neck region. She also stated that women have almost 80 percent more concussion probability than men. A concussion or fatal accident is deemed to happen when an athlete is dehydrated and fatigued, and they have a slower recovery time. There is a simple formula: DEHYDRATION + FATIGUE + HEAVY BLOW = CONCUSSION. (Sulaiman 2017).
This is problematic for a few reasons. Multiple times, Sulaiman has referred inquiries regarding this statement to individuals who are unable to present this study in its entirety. Additionally, at this time, as explained by Christina Newland for The Ringer, there haven’t been any standalone studies of the frequency or severity of concussions suffered by women in boxing, nor have there been comparative studies expressing a correlation between less time in a round and less concussions in boxing (Newland 2018). His explanation regarding bone structure in the neck region doesn’t even appear to reflect the partial consensus regarding why women are more prone to concussions (see Makin’s 2018 article on the size and structural differences in male/female axons), but it does sound more convincing in a boxing context, which was almost certainly a strategic choice.
Sulaiman’s shaky argument presents the following issues:
In a boxing match, a heavy blow can be landed at any point in the fight. Changing the length of the rounds cannot eliminate the risk of a concussive blow landing. Additionally, as Newland explains, reducing round time from three minutes to two minutes may just allow for more punches to be thrown within that limited time frame (2018). Limiting rounds to two minutes is also a major deterrent for anyone seeking to get the most bang for their buck in terms of pay-per-view events. Why would you shell out for 20 minutes of action when men’s boxing events regularly provide 36?
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