The boxing scene in Malta is a fairly active one and the sport is pretty much run by two major sanctioning bodies: the Malta Boxing Association (MBA) and the Malta Boxing Federation. (MBF). Both groups are set up for the safety of fighters, to celebrate and elevate the sport. Naturally they also have their differences.
My experience is that of fighting White Collar and Amateur (under England Boxing) in the UK, Judge and Head Coach within the MBF and finally a Second in the MBA for one Professional Bout. I must say, I’ve worked mostly with the MBF and majority of our amateur boxers will fight via this organisation so I’ve focussed this article mostly on the MBF.
We will further focus down on early stage ‘elite’ amateur boxers for this article. Both MBF & MBA have very slightly different age categorisations for this, but generally those aged 19 and above are considered elite (the name has nothing to do with skill level or experience). We’ll talk more about junior boxing at another date.
malta boxing association
Malta Boxing Association is part of the WBC and the EBU. It looks after both pro-boxing and a form of amateur boxing in Malta. Boxers who sign up with the MBA can join other federations/play other sports as long as they get approval from the MBA. Even though the MBA has a boxing class called “Semi-Pro”, it is not regarded as professional boxing by international standards and would be more similar stylistically to “White-Collar Boxing“.
This organisation, defines an elite Boxer to be “A boxer who reaches the age 19 years within the next calendar year and over to a boxer who reaches 46 years old plus the remainder of the calendar year, or an 18 year old boxer who has elected to box within the elite category”
malta boxing federation
Malta Boxing Federation looks after all IBA-approved olympic-style boxing, which includes boxers wearing red & blue and in some cases – headguards. Many of the great pro boxers you’ve seen had long, successful amateur careers before they turned pro. Once boxers are registered, they can’t fight for any other organization or combat sports, including the MBA, or they risk losing their right to fight in the MBF again.
The MBF define an elite Boxer to be “any Boxer 19 years of age or older”.
boxing shows in malta
The MBA recently said, “We should expect 2023 to be a very busy year for the MBA in Malta, Europe, and around the world.” It has certainly delivered in its promise so far in high level entertaining events broadcasted via FightZone. Both sanctioning bodies have come together to organise fight nights with MBF sanctioned amateur fights early on in the night; closing the night with MBA sanctioned pro fights as the main event and undercards.
Every two to three months, there will be some kind of Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Boxing or MMA event in Malta – so fight fans will not be disappointed.
Don’t forget that some shows are held outside, usually in the evening and/or the shade to escape the intense heat. During training, it is important to acclimatise yourself to working outdoors to avoid any surprises on the day. Finally, amateur boxers may make a small amount of money from ticket sales but don’t quit your day jobs just yet.
fight duration & equipment
All MBF Elite events are 3 rounds and 3 minutes long, with 1 minute intervals.
In recent years, mandatory use of headguards have been removed from competition for elite males but still remain in place for elite females.
Headguards were introduced in the 1980s, following death of boxer Kim Duk-koo, who unfortunately passed away after sustaining life threatening injuries during a pro fight. The decision to revoke headguards was made in 2013 because all available data indicated that removing them for elite men would result in a decreased number of concussions. Unfortunately, the data for elite women does not go back long enough to make a decision on this, so they remain mandatory.
Gloves used must be IBA approved and are 10oz for all elite women and elite men under 71kg. Elite men 71kg and over use 12oz gloves.
Handwraps, boots, shorts and gumshield are all a requirement for all competitors. Male competitors additionally must have cup protectors and for female competitors cup protectors and/or breast protectors are optional.
The “10-9 Must System” is used to score fights by both the MBF and the MBA. Now, I could write an entire article about the scoring system, so I’ll summarise to give you an introduction.
According to the MBF, judges are looking for the following criteria to award points:
- “Number of quality blows on target area;
- Domination of the Bout by technical and tactical superiority;
As you can see, scoring is subjective and ultimately up to the judges (of which there are usually three at this level). With this method, each round can be worth up to 10 points for the winner of said round. The other fighter gets a maximum of 9 points but If a boxer wins a round by a large margin, such as by knocking down their opponent or scoring significantly more quality blows, they might get a score of 10-8 or even 10-7 (at which point coaches/referees should be thinking about calling an end to the bout).
The goal of each boxer is to get as many points as possible during the fight. Each judge will have their own score cards and the winner will be determined by whom those judges have as their individual winner. You may win by a split decision (majority of judges agree on the winner) or unanimous decision (all judges agree on a winner). Please note that a draw is not possible with three judges and three rounds.
If a boxer commits a foul such as hitting below the belt, excessive holding, or hitting after the bell, the referee can penalise with points from that fighter’s score for that round.
Of course this is for bouts that go “the distance”, but the bout may be stopped also for a Knockout (Body/Head), a disqualification OR your coach throwing in the towel.
Remember that within Olympic style boxing is about landing clean punches. The referee is there for many reasons but their main job is to protect fighters. At times, they will use a standing 8 count to give a fighter time to recover from a hard shot. Judges should not count these like they do with knock-downs.
Pro-style boxing allows for slightly different tactics including more focus on power punching, tactics developed for longer fights and some more freedom around clinching. It is important to understand the differences between the two.
opponent matching & weight classes
Opponents are matched by weight class and your fight weight will be determined with advice from your coach. It is advisable to be at the top of your weight class (please refer to weight categories set by the IBA as these change from time to time and vary based on level). Check out the IBA Technical & Competition rules here.
Once your fight weight has been selected, we’ll discuss with other gyms and match someone of your experience and weight. Safety is of paramount importance here, winning is the ultimate bonus but gaining experience is the key.
Styles make fights and your coaches will discuss this too with opposing coaches to ensure both camps are happy and they engage in a fair yet competitive bout
The Malta Boxing Association (MBA) and the Malta Boxing Federation (MBF) have different rules about how to weigh in.
For MBA, the weigh-in is usually in the late afternoon or early evening on the day before the fight. Boxers have to stay within the weight category they signed up for. If a fighter doesn’t make weight, they are on occassion given another 2 hours to try again.
For the MBF, the weigh-in usually happens on the day of the fight, about two hours before the fight is supposed to start. This encourages fighters to box at more of a ‘natural’ weight. Boxers must make weight within their registered weight group. Boxers failing to make weight do not get to participate.
Boxers need to carefully watch their weight before a match to make sure they can make weight without hurting their health or their ability in the ring. At Sliema Fight Co., we ensure a safe weight cut with advice from your experienced coaches and if required, with advice from qualified nutritionists.
fighting for sliema fight co.
Before we even discuss talent – you’ll need a clean bill of health prior to sparring and ultimately fighting in the ring. This can be obtained from your GP.
Muhammad Ali once said, “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights” – First and foremost, make sure you understand this and are ready to work hard. The ring can be a lonely place at times and not everyone is cut out for this.
So if you
– Have been training regularly
– Have been enjoying sparring
….and think you’re ready for the next level, the first step is to talk to your coaches.
We’ll talk about your fight weight, how to get to that weight safely, and what your training camp will look like. Be ready for changes and last-minute opponent dropouts; this is unfortunately part of the game, but it’s something we’d like to change.
The registration process is an important part of fighting for the MBA and the MBF, which we’ll talk about in another piece.
Until then happy fighting warriors!
By Jay Rajakariyar
Founder & Boxing Coach