In boxing, just like in the UFC, there are always at least three people inside the ring, the two fighters and the one referee. Referees have a tough job, and their choices can make or break a controversial fight. That said, unlike the boxers that they’re looking after, boxing referees aren’t paid that much.
What boxing referees do
At the end of the day, the referee is there to make sure that the two boxers will have a clean and fair fight. The referee’s job is to inform the boxers and their teams about the rules of the match, and then actually enforce those rules during the fight. On top of that, the referee’s job is also to determine when the fight is over.
That is most famously seen whenever the referee gives a boxer who just got knocked down a 10-count. This count doesn’t necessarily last 10 seconds exactly, so the speed that the referee counts at is also very important for some fights.
The referee is also in charge of determining when someone is no longer “intelligently defending themselves.” When a referee does that, they can call the fight off and declare the result as a technical knockout.
This was what happened when Conor McGregor fought Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather had hurt McGregor, but McGregor never went down. Still, the referee decided that McGregor wasn’t defending himself intelligently, and so, he called the fight off and declared it a technical knockout.
Why this job is so hard
A boxing referee, like a UFC referee, is putting themselves in the line of fire at times. There have been many examples of boxers accidentally hitting a referee, and obviously, that’s not a fun perk of the job. But, on top of that, referees have to use a lot of personal judgment in their rulings.
For example, one of the most common defensive boxing strategies is to get in close and essentially, hug the opponent. This is called grappling and it’s not allowed in boxing. That said, it’s a great way for boxers to avoid getting hit, as grappling will make it hard for either boxer to land any hard punches.
One of the most common things that a boxing referee has to do is to break up these grappling exchanges. Deciding when to separate the two boxers isn’t the only thing that the referee has to keep track of during these exchanges, either.
Sometimes, boxers will throw illegal punches during these exchanges, so the referee has to be able to keep track of those shots to make sure the boxers are fighting fairly.
How much a boxing referee gets paid
Just like with UFC referees, the paycheck of boxing referees will vary a lot. Boxing referees are usually paid per each fight that they officiate, and, generally speaking, the more important the match, the more that the referee will get paid. And, just like most jobs, location matters.
Sapling reports that boxing referees get paid more in Nevada than they do in other states. Sapling says that this paycheck can range anywhere from $150 a fight to $25,000 a fight. Additionally, on average, Sapling reports that referees in every sport will make about $23,000 a year. That said, that number was from 2008, so it probably has changed.
The reason why the salaries can vary so much is that you don’t have to be a full-time referee. Full-time referees can officiate multiple fights per event, which means that they can make a lot of money in a single day. Other referees may just work a few fights a year. Regardless, Sapling says that the most well-known boxing referees can easily make six-figures annually.