Do professional boxers wear headgear?

Professional boxers don’t wear headgear and it’s unlikely they ever will.   

There are a number of reasons for this:

Potential Decline in Viewing Figures

Professional fights are often shown on a pay per view basis and that, together with advertising revenue, is how the sport is funded.

Boxing promoters and fight organisers are very reluctant to do anything that might jeopardize viewing numbers.

Amateur boxing, where headguards are worn, is not particularly popular with spectators.

The reality is that people enjoy seeing the faces of the boxers they support and seeing the emotions that they’re going through.  The headgear makes it very difficult to see the fighter’s face.

Spectators also like to see the blood and gore that is part of the sport.  Indeed, some say that this adds to the excitement of the event. 

The boxing head guard also represents a much larger target.  This would enable a quicker but weaker boxer to score more points against a slower but stronger opponent.  Such fights wouldn’t be very exciting and, again, this could reduce viewing numbers.

Do professional boxers wear headgear?

Boxers themselves don’t like wearing them

Not only does a headguard make the head a larger target but it can also reduce the fighter’s peripheral vision:  this makes the fighter vulnerable to hooks and uppercuts.

In addition, after several rounds of intense effort, the headgear can get hot and extremely sweaty.  This makes it extremely uncomfortable for the wearer.

The headgear makes the double arm block less effective.  The headgear makes your head bigger so that you can’t cover yourself up as tightly with your arms.  In addition, when the headgear gets sweaty, your gloves slip on it making the block much weaker. 

 

Research suggests they may do more harm than good

A study by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) found that referees actually had to stop fights  more often when boxers were wearing headgear, as a result of head injuries. 

There may be multiple reasons for this:

  • The headgear presents the a larger target, making it easier to hit.  The increased frequency of strikes could make it more likely that the wearer will suffer from concussion.
  • The headgear may give the wearer a sense of protection.  This may make them overconfident and more likely to be overly offensive in the ring.  This is a high risk approach which may make them more vulnerable to counter attack.

Amateur Boxers no longer have to wear them

At the amateur level, the issue of boxers wearing headgear has been questioned.  

Following their research, the AIBA changed the rules for boxers competing in the Olympics.  From 2016, boxers competing in the Olympics no longer had to wear boxing headgear.

Given this change in direction, it makes it highly unlikely that headguards will  be introduced into professional boxing.

Summary:

Professional boxers don’t hear headgear and there’s a number of reasons for this:

  • Potential Decline in Viewing Figures
  • Boxers themselves don’t like wearing them
  • Research suggests they may do more harm than good
  • Amateur Boxers no longer have to wear them

 

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