Boxing Glossary


Alphabet soup – A reference to the abbreviations of various sanctioning bodies that name a “world champion.” The 1980s gave birth to a number of these bodies.
Amateur – A boxer who competes for pure competition, without monetary compensation.
Association of Boxing Commissions – A boxing organization composed of different members within the US and Canada. This body formed as a result of the Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996 and Muhammad Ali Reform Act enacted by the US Senate and House of Representatives. The organization sets the minimum safety requirements that members need to follow.


Bag Gloves – Gloves used when hitting the speed bag or heavy bag. These gloves usually are smaller than gloves used for sparring or competing.
Bantamweight – One of the traditional weight divisions used in professional boxing. The maximum weight for this division is 118 pounds (53.5 kg).
Bare-knuckle boxing – Boxing without gloves protecting the hands. This form of boxing was practiced before the first set of rules was set in place by Jack Broughton in the 18th century. Bare-knuckle boxing dates back before ancient Greek and Roman civilizations.
Beat the count – After getting knocked down a boxer returns to his/her feet before the referee reaches ten while counting.
Belt – Can refer to one of two things: 1) The area between the belly button and hips where a punch landed would be deemed illegal. 2) A decorated accessory worn around the waist of the champion of a weight class.
Bleeder – A boxer who often bleeds from the nose or is susceptible to cuts on the face.
Blocking – One of the basic defensive strategies practiced by keeping the hands up in front of the face with the chin tucked behind the gloves. The hands and forearms are used to deflect incoming punches.
Bob and weave – The legs bend and the head moves laterally in order to go underneath of an incoming punch (usually a hook). The feet move in the same direction as the head movement.
Body Punch – Punches landed above the belt but below the neck of an opponent.
Bolo Punch – A punch thrown by circling the arm and finishing with an upward movement similar to that of an uppercut. Often this punch is thrown to distract the opposing boxer. The attacker will throw the punch in order to have the opponent take his/her eye off of the other hand that will be coming from another direction.
Bout – A boxing match.
Boxers’ Handshake – Touching of gloves before the opening bell.
Boxing Commission – Organization authorized under law to regulate professional boxing matches.
Boxing Shoe – Light-weight rubber-soled shoe designed for easy movement in the boxing ring.
Brawler – A boxer who depends less on head/foot movement and more on sheer power and an uncanny ability to take punches from an opponent.
Breadbasket – The abdomen area.
Break – An order from the referee in order to break up two clinching boxers.


Card – The list of boxers and matchups for the event at hand.
Catch weight – Refers to a weight between two weight classes that boxers agree upon prior to an upcoming bout. Catch weights usually come into play when boxers for a bout primarily fight in two different weight classes.
Check hook – A hook used to prevent aggressive boxers from lunging in. The attacked boxer waits for the aggressor to lunge in at which point the attacked throws a hook and pivots at a 180 degree angle.
Chin – Refers to a boxer’s ability to absorb punches to the head. To “have a chin” is to be able to absorb punches to the head without much affect. To “have a glass chin” is to be susceptible to knockouts.
Clinching – Occurs when boxers get too close to one another or when one boxer feels cornered or under too much pressure. A boxer holds onto the opponent’s arms or body to prevent high powered punches from landing at close range.
Combination – A series of punches thrown one after the other.
Compubox – A computerized program that counts and categorizes punches thrown in a bout. TV networks use the system to give viewers a clear view of how many punches were thrown and where punches landed on the body and head of participants.
Contender – A highly-ranked boxer who is not the champion but is of top quality.
Corner – Refers to the four corners of the ring. Also can refer to a boxer’s team that gives advice, water, and medical treatment to the boxer between rounds.
Count – The count to ten that a referee makes after a boxer has been knocked down. If the boxer does not recover by the end of the count then he/she will be deemed unable to continue.
Counterpunch – A punch thrown immediately after an opponent throws a punch. The counterpunch exploits openings on the opponent.
Cross – A straight power-punch thrown by the dominant hand of the fighter (the rear hand).
Cruiserweight – Also known as Junior Heavyweight. The maximum weight for the weight class is 200 pounds (90.9 kg).
Cut man – Member of boxer’s team who takes care of cuts, nose bleeds, and contusions in between rounds.


Dancing – Term to describe a boxer’s footwork.
Decision – The result of the match. When no knockout, technical knockout, or disqualification occurs and the bout is determined by the scorecards then it is said to have been determined by decision. A unanimous decision occurs when all judges’ scores agree for the same winner. A split decision occurs when some of the judges are in favor of one boxer while others are in favor of the other.
Defense – Tactics used in order to prevent an opponent from landing a clean punch on the body or head.
Deflection – Also known as parrying. Use of the hands to prevent incoming punches from landing on the head or body.
Disqualification – Order given by the referee when a boxer breaks rules. The boxer who broke the rules would be declared the loser.
Division – A boxing weight category.
Double-end bag – Circular bag attacked to one hook on the floor and one hook above. The bag is used by boxers to improve speed and accuracy.
Draw – A tie. A decision rendered by the judges. Boxers tie due to an equal amount of points.
Ducking – A defensive tactic in which a boxer bends his/her knees in order to allow an incoming punch to soar over the head.


Endwell – An object used to reduce swelling in the face of the boxer. It is a flat metal surface that needs to be kept cold to be effective.
Evasion – Defensive method whereby a boxer makes his opponent miss with little or no physical contact.


Fall through the ropes – To fall or be punched through the ropes of a boxing ring.
Featherweight – One of the traditional eight weight classes. The maximum weight for this weight class is 126 pounds (57.2 kg).
Feint – A faked punch or faked offensive movement used to get the opponent to react.
Fight Record – The accumulation of wins, losses, and draws a boxer acquires throughout his/her career.
Flash knockdown – When a boxer gets knocked down but immediately gets back up.
Flyweight – Weight division that has a maximum weight of 112 pounds (50.8 kg).
Footwork – The way a boxer moves, pivots, and feints using his/her feet. A boxer who uses footwork appropriately will be able to switch easily between offensive and defensive boxing.
Foul – An infringement of boxing rules. Common fouls include head butts, elbows, and punches below the belt. Boxers usually receive a warning from the referee after committing a foul, but if the boxer continues to foul then points are often deducted from that boxer’s score. Disqualification could also result.


Getting off first – When a boxer throws a punch or combination before his/her opponent.
Go the distance – The bout lasted every round of its scheduled duration and goes to the judges who will make a decision. The term can also be used to describe a fighter who was outmatched or took punishment early on. When the fighter goes the distance he/she lasted the entire fight without being knocked out.
Go to the scorecards – The fight will be decided by the scorecards of the judges.


Handwraps – Cotton wraps worn under the gloves of boxers for knuckle and wrist protection. During competition most boxers replace the cotton wraps with gauze and medical tape.
Haymaker – A wild swinging punch thrown mostly in movies or street fights in order to knock out an opponent. This type of punch is an undisciplined and is used in boxing solely in an act of desperation.
Heavy bag – A long cylindrical bag suspended by a chain. The bag gets its name due to its weight. Boxers hit the bag and move around it as if it were an opponent.
Heavyweight – A traditional weight division that consists of boxers weighing over 200 pounds (90.9+ kg).
Hitting on the break – Occurs when the referee breaks up two clinching boxers and one of the boxers hits his opponent immediately instead of taking the mandatory full step back. This would be considered a foul.
Holding – See clinching.
Hook – A power punch in which the boxer swings with a bent elbow from the side toward the center.


Infighting – Fighting at close-range.
Inside fighter – A fighter who prefers to be close to his opponent in order to throw short, powerful punches.


Jab – A straight punch thrown with the lead hand. The punch should be thrown in a direct line from a boxer’s chin toward his/her opponent.
Journeyman – A boxer who holds respectable skill and toughness, but has limitations and little expectations when it comes to winning. He is said to be “along for the journey.”
Judge – Official who sits at ringside to score a bout. There are several judges at ringside scoring each bout.
Junior bantamweight – Also known as super flyweight. The maximum weight for this division is 115 pounds (52.2 kg).
Junior featherweight – Also known as super bantamweight. The maximum weight for this division is 122 pounds (55.3 kg).
Junior flyweight – Also known as light flyweight. The maximum weight for this division is 108 pounds (49 kg).
Junior heavyweight – Also known as cruiserweight. The maximum weight for this division is 200 pounds (90.9 kg).
Junior light heavyweight – Also known as super middleweight. The maximum weight for this division is 168 pounds (76.2 kg).
Junior lightweight – Also known as super featherweight. The maximum weight for this division is 130 pounds (59 kg).
Junior middleweight – Also known as light middleweight and super welterweight. The maximum weight for this division is 154 pounds (69.9 kg).
Junior welterweight – Also known as light welterweight and super lightweight. The maximum weight for this division is 140 pounds (63.5 kg).


Kidney punch – A punch to the lower back of an opponent. This punch has been deemed illegal due to the internal damage it inflicts.
Kissing the Canvas – Laying face first in the ring due to a knockdown.
Knockdown – Occurs when a boxer gets hit and touches the floor with any part of the body other than the feet, is being held up not by the legs but by the ropes, or is hanging on, through, or over the ropes with little support from the rest of the body. If any of these instances is caused by a slip or fall and not from the force of a punch then it is not a knockdown.
Knockout (KO) – Occurs when a boxer experiences a knockdown and is unable to get back up unassisted within ten seconds. A knockout results in a loss for the knocked out boxer.


Lead with the chin – Refers to a boxer leaving his/her chin open and vulnerable.
Light bantamweight – Also known as super flyweight and junior bantamweight. The maximum weight for this division is 115 pounds (52.2 kg).
Light featherweight – Also known as super bantamweight. The maximum weight for this division is 122 pounds (55.3 kg).
Light flyweight – Also known as junior flyweight. The maximum weight for this division is 108 pounds (49 kg).
Light heavyweight – One of the traditional eight divisions. The maximum weight for this division is 175 pounds (79.4 kg).
Light middleweight – Also known as junior middleweight and super welterweight. The maximum weight for this division is 154 pounds (69.9 kg).
Light welterweight – Also known as junior welterweight and super lightweight. The maximum weight fort this division is 140 pounds (63.5 kg).
Lightweight – One of the traditional eight divisions. The maximum weight for this division is 135 pounds (61.2 kg).
Liver Punch – When two orthodox boxers are fighting it is a left hook to the body. If landed correctly the punch can cause a knockdown or knockout.
Loss – A boxer can lose by way of decision (loss on points), knockout or technical knockout, or by disqualification.
Loss on points – A loss by decision in which the judges have more points accumulated for the boxer’s opponent.


Main Event – The bout at a boxing event with the most highly profiled fighters. The main event is usually the last bout.
Majority Decision – In professional boxing a decision in which two of the three judges decide in favor for one boxer and the third judge declares a draw. The boxer who received two winning point accumulations wins the bout.
Majority Draw – In professional boxing a decision in which two of the three judges decide a draw and the third judge declares a winner. The fight will be considered a draw.
Manager – The person given the responsibility of a boxer’s business affairs such as negotiating matches.
Mandatory eight-count – An eight-second count made by the referee after a knocked down boxer returns to his/her feet. This eight-seconds gives the referee time to decide if the boxer can continue or whether he/she needs medical attention.
Match – A bout; a fight.
Matchmaker – The person who acts as the intermediary between boxing managers of different fighters. The matchmaker sets up upcoming fights and works with promoters to gain publicity for the bout.
Medicine Ball – Weighted ball used in training.
Memorial ten-count – Tolling of the bell ten times before a bout to honor a recently deceased person.
Middleweight – One of the traditional eight weight classes. The maximum weight for this division is 160 pounds (72.6 kg).
Minimumweight – Also known as strawweight and mini flyweight. The maximum weight for this division is 105 pounds (47.6 kg).
Mouse – Swelling that forms a bump on the face or head.
Mouthpiece – A piece of rubber worn in the mouth of a boxer to protect the teeth and absorb shock to the head.


Neutral Corner – One of the two corners of a boxing ring that have not been assigned to either boxer for a fight. Sometimes also called the “white corner.” After a boxer knocks down his opponent he is told to go to a neutral corner while the referee starts the ten-count on his opponent.
No Contest – Describes the result of a fight that ends before the scheduled duration and in professional boxing usually before fourth round has ended. The result excludes knockouts and technical knockouts. In most cases an unintentional foul has occurred and has caused a severe injury on one of the boxers. In other circumstances an instance has occurred out of the fighters hands that will prevent further boxing. The fight will be stopped and considered no contest, meaning the fight does not go on either boxers’ record.
Novice – Amateur boxer with less than 10 fights.


Official – Refers to a referee or judge.
One-two – The simplest combination made up of a jab followed by a cross.
Open Class – The class within which an amateur boxer with more than ten fights competes.
Open Scoring – A system whereby the judges’ scores are revealed after each round or at various points throughout the match.
Opening – Refers to a vulnerability in an opponent’s defense.
Orthodox – A right-handed boxer or right-handed boxing style.
Out for the count – Unable to get up within the ten seconds after being knocked down.
Outclassed – A ruling that occurs when a boxer has taken too much punishment. The referee stops the fight and the other boxer wins.
Outside fighter – A boxer who likes to keep some distance between himself/herself and the opponent. Outsider fighters throw long, straight punches and move well on their feet.


Point deduction – A deduction of a point from a boxer’s score. This occurs when the referee feels the boxer has broken a rule too excessively or too often.
Parrying – Using the hands to deflect incoming punches.
Passbook – A book containing the record of the boxer. Acts as a form of identification and is taken to the medical check-up prior to a bout.
Peek-a-boo – A style in which a boxer holds his/her hands high in front of the face.
Pitty-pat punches – Punches that lack power but count as points in amateur boxing.
Points – A boxer earns points from judges for cleaning landing punches on the opponent. Points can be deducted for committing a foul. If the match goes to a decision, the boxer with more points wins the match.
Pound-for-pound – Means regardless of weight class. The boxer considered the best in the world is often referred to as the “pound-for pound champion.”
Power punches – Punches other than the jab: hook, cross, uppercut.
Prizefight – A fight in which the winner receives a monetary reward.
Professional – A boxer paid to fight.
Promoter – The person who helps to organize and advertise for a fight.
Protective cup – Padding used to protect the groin area.
Punch – The way to gain points in boxing is by throwing punches. The four main punches are the jab, cross, hook, and uppercut.
Purse – The money paid to boxers competing in a match. From the purse boxers pay their manager, trainers, and cutman.


Queer street – Expression used to describe the mindset of a boxer who is dazed from recent blows.


Range – The distance between a boxer and the opponent.
Reach – The distance between the fingertips of a boxer’s outstretched arms.
Referee – The official who appears in the ring with the boxers. Referees have a number of responsibilities such as the ability to break up clinching fighters and the power to deduct points if a fighter is breaking rules. Referees also ensure that boxers are fit to continue in the match.
Reflex bag – A circular bag on a post that moves as the bag gets struck. Boxers use this type of bag to improve speed and accuracy.
Rest period – One minute periods between rounds in both professional and amateur bouts.
Ring doctor – Doctor that sits ringside and tends to the medical needs of boxers. The ring doctor can instruct the referee to stop a fight if a fighter is in danger of further injury.
Ring generalship – The boxer who is able to lead the pace and style of the fight at hand.
Ringside – The area immediately surrounding the ring.
Roadwork – Term used to refer to a boxer’s running routine.
Rolling – A defensive maneuver that requires a boxer to move under an incoming punch and respond with a punch.
Rope a dope – When a boxer lays on the ropes in a shell position while his/her opponent throws constant punches and tires.
Round – One of a series of periods in a match. Each round is separated by a one minute rest period. In most situations professional bouts have rounds lasting three minutes while amateur bouts have rounds that last two minutes.
RSC – Referee stops the contest. Used to protect a hurt boxer.
RSCH – Referee stops the contest due to head blows. Used to protect a boxer who has received numerous forceful shots to the head.
RSCOC – Referee Stopped Contest Outclassed. This stoppage is the most common type of RSC. It occurs when one boxer simply appears to be taking excessive punishment.
RTD – Retired. A referee retires a fight in between rounds when he thinks a boxer cannot continue or when the boxer has indicated he/she cannot continue.
Rubber match – A fight to decide who the better fighter is between two fighters who have previously fought and have each won.
Rules of boxing – The rules of boxing differ among states, countries, and governing body, but boxers who break the rules while in the ring can be deducted a point from their score or get disqualified.


Sanctioning body – Boxing organizations that sponsor championship fights and provide champions with belts. The four main sanctioning bodies of professional boxing are: WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO.
Saved by the bell – The bell sounds before the referee can reach the count of ten for a knocked down boxer. Rules may vary for this situation.
Scoring hit – A hit landing on an opponent using the knuckle area of the glove. Also known as a “clean hit.”
Shadow Boxing – An exercise that involves throwing punches into the air without a designated target. Boxers use this drill to improve technique.
Shoulder guard – Tucking the chin to the front shoulder in order to prevent vulnerability of the chin.
Skinning the gloves – Professional boxers are required to have tape around the wrist of the gloves in order to prevent laces from coming undone. When the tape goes up too high on the gloves the pads in the gloves become tighter. Skinning the gloves is considered illegal under most rules.
Slipping – A main defensive strategy of boxing. The boxer moves his/her head from side to side forcing the opponent to miss by a slight margin.
Solar Plexus – The area of the abdomen at the peak of the ribcage. Taking a shot to this area can be devastating.
Southpaw – Opposite of the orthodox fighter. A left-handed fighter who leads with the right foot in his/her stance.
Sparring – Boxing against a training partner in order to improve form and technique.
Speed bag – A small, hanging, circular bag hit in sequence to improve a boxer’s rhythm and speed.
Split decision – Occurs when the majority of judges find one boxer the winner while the minority find the other boxers the winner. The boxer who receives majority rule will be the winner.
Split Draw – One judge favors one boxer, another favors the other boxer, and the third calls a draw. A draw ensues.
Spoiler – A boxer with an unusual style that provides an advantage.
Stable – Refers to boxers under the same management.
Stance – The position in which a boxer stands to box.
Standing eight-count – Quite common in amateur fights. The referee stops the fight and counts to eight to ensure that a boxer who has undergone harmful pressure is not too dazed to continue.
Stick and move – Usage of quick footwork and long punches.
Straight Punches – The jab and the cross. These punches can be thrown from a further distance.
Strawweight – Also known as Minimumweight. The maximum weight of this division is 105 pounds (47.6 kg).
Super bantamweight – Also known as junior featherweight and light featherweight. The maximum weight for this division is 122 pounds (55.3 kg).
Super featherweight – Also known as junior lightweight. The maximum weight for this division is 130 pounds (59 kg).
Super flyweight – Also known as junior bantamweight and light bantamweight. The maximum weight for this division is 115 pounds (52.2 kg).
Super middleweight – Also known as junior light heavyweight. The maximum weight for this division is 168 pounds (76.2 kg).
Sweet Science – Another term for the sport of boxing coined by Pierce Egan, author of Boxiana.


Take a dive – To throw a fight by intentionally pretending to get knocked out.
Technical Decision – If a professional fight is scheduled for more than four rounds and an accidental foul occurs after four rounds causing an injury severe enough for the referee to stop the fight then the boxer who leads on the scorecards will win by technical decision.
Technical Draw – If a professional fight is scheduled for more than four rounds and an accidental foul occurs after four rounds causing an injury severe enough for the referee to stop the fight then the decision goes to the scorecards and if the fight is even then a draw will be concluded.
Technical Knockout (TKO) – Occurs when the referee stops the bout to protect a wounded fighter who has experienced great punishment. The opponent of the damaged boxer wins by TKO.
Third man in the ring – Refers to the referee.
Three knockdown rule – A rule requiring that a boxer who is knocked down three times in the same round be declared knocked out.
Throw in the towel – A member of a boxer’s corner throws in a white towel in order to signal that the boxer has had enough. The fight is stopped and the boxer loses by technical knockout.
Time keeper – Official in charge of keeping the time of rounds, stoppages, and resting periods.
Title bout – Refers to a championship match.
Tomato can – A boxer with little skill that often gets beat up.
Trainer – Member of a boxer’s team responsible for preparing the boxer for the fight and giving the boxer advice during rest periods.


Unanimous decision – A decision made by the judges in which all judges agree on the same winner.
Undercard – Boxing matches preceding the main event.
Uppercut – A power punch thrown at close range. The punch come in an upward motion and is intended to land on the stomach or chin of the opposition.
USA Boxing – The official governing body of amateur boxing in the United States.


Venue – The event or place where the matches occur.
Verdict – The decision made by the judges.


Warning – A notice a referee gives to a boxer after he/she commits a foul. Generally a boxer gets a warning and if the foul is committed again a point is taken away from that boxer’s score. If the infraction occurs a third time then the boxer is disqualified.
Weigh-in – A pre-bout ritual in which boxers are weighed to ensure they are at or under the maximum weight. For professional matches this ceremony usually occurs the day before the match. For amateur fights this ceremony usually occurs the day of the match.
Weight classes – Also known as weight divisions. The weight divisions set a maximum weight for fighters who intend to fight in each class.
Welterweight – One of the traditional eight divisions. The maximum weight for this class is 147 pounds (66.7 kg).
White corner – One of the neutral corners of the boxing ring. Both boxers and his/her team are assigned corners and the remaining two corners known as the white corners. When a boxer knocks down his/her opponent he/she is told to go to a white corner while the referee begins the count.
Win on points – When a boxer wins by decision after the points have been added up on each of the judges’ scorecards.
Wind – Used to refer to a boxer’s stamina.

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