Last year as part of a feature we call The Panel, we posed a question to six boxing experts. Our group spanned world champions, trainers and promoters. That question was this: Should women’s boxing move to three-minute rounds? The query is more relevant now than ever with the announcement Amanda Serrano will be defending her WBA, IBF and WBO featherweight titles against Danila Ramos in a bout of 12 three-minute rounds in October.
Here’s what our panel told The Sportsman last year when the idea of 12-round women's title fights remained unrealised.
Chantelle Cameron (Undisputed Super Lightweight Champion)
I'm in favour of doing three-minute rounds. I think for my style three-minute rounds would suit me a lot more. I think if we want equal pay and equal rights, then we kind of need to do what the men are doing. Twos are great, and entertaining for the fans because it's a high pace, high tempo. But the extra minute can give you more time to get your opponents out of there. Boxing fans want to see stoppages. It's the hurt game.
Eddie Hearn (Matchroom Sport Chairman)
I think that two-minute rounds have proven extremely entertaining and sometimes when you’re trying to bring a new audience into the sport, you want it to be as exciting and as fast-paced as possible. Two-minute rounds have done that in my opinion and that’s why I enjoy them.
I also understand the argument for when you step up the levels, that three-minute rounds may produce more stoppages. But will it be as fast paced? Will it be as entertaining? I would probably prefer to have 12 two-minute rounds before we go 10 three-minute rounds or 12x3s because sometimes you want a couple of other rounds. Taylor versus Serrano, imagine two more rounds of that? Claressa Shields versus Savannah Marshall, imagine two more rounds of that? I don’t want to take away the fast paced element of two-minute rounds.
Jamie Moore (Trainer/Former European Super Welterweight Champion)
There's got to be a level playing field. We've got to get to the point where the girls are doing the three minute rounds. Twelve-threes for a championship fight. And that way, that's the only way we'll ever get to the point where it's a level playing field. We actually asked for this. For Chantelle’s last couple of fights. “Can we make it 12x3s?”. But if we keep pushing for it, then hopefully we'll get to that point.
You do three minute rounds in the amateurs and then jump down to twos. That's how it should be for professionals, regardless of if it’s a man or woman.
Natasha Jonas (Unified Super Welterweight Champion)
I think Claressa Shields made a good point, that it shouldn't just jump from 20 to 30 minutes. Potentially maybe we should do 12x2s. I believe that fans are saying they want three minute rounds because they want to see knockouts. Two of the biggest knockouts that I can remember are Terri Harper (against Alycia Baumgardner) and Savannah’s last opponent before Claressa and people didn't like to see women get hurt. There was one, a bit of a mismatch in America, and one of the girls got seriously hurt as well.
So what people say they want and what people actually want are two different things. I think the reality of actually seeing women being knocked out, the sport as we're growing and moving in the right direction, I don't think it's the thing that we need right now. If we do go to three minutes, is the money going to change? Right now I don't think it is. So that's another big thing. Why would we do more with less with the same amount of money?
Joe Gallagher (The Ring Magazine Trainer of the Year 2015)
I think boxing at the moment should stick with two minutes. But I think for world title fights and unifications, it should be moving up to 12x2s. I think those last two rounds, 11 and 12, over two minutes would be better. I'm more in favour of 12x2s than 12x3s at this moment and see how that goes.
Anthony Crolla (Former WBA Lightweight Champion)
I'm probably in the minority of a lot of boxing people there but I'm happy with the two minute rounds. I just don't think the quality in depth is coming through. You could argue championship fights.
The two minute rounds are so entertaining. It's different ones. Tasha Jonas would 100% suit three minute rounds better. Katie Taylor, I believe she's two minute rounds. But I'm happy with the two minute rounds. I was at the O2 a few weeks back. That was a brilliant night. I'm proud of them, I didn't think “Oh, there's got to be three minute rounds.” I believe it becomes a very different sport as well over three minutes.
The Verdict: Our experts differed on the issue, with even the two active boxers split. Cameron seems to favour three minutes while Jonas is content doing two minutes. But a few of our group touched on the idea of first expanding to 12x2s. This seems like a fine compromise. As Hearn mentioned, there have been some classic fights recently where fans would have savoured another four minutes. Perhaps 12x2s in title fights is the way forward now as the women’s sport continues to grow in popularity.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change