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Boxing Lingo And Terminology

Table of Contents

The Basics

The Ring

The ring is a roughly 16-20 ft square where the contest takes place. It is usually on a three to four foot elevated platform.

The Canvas

The canvas refers to the stretched canvas flooring of the boxing ring. The canvas covers a layer of padding that tops the metal or wood platform.

The Ropes

The ropes are four one-inch diameter ropes spaced at 28, 30, 42, 54 inches that enclose the area of the contest. They are attached to four corner posts with turnbuckles. The corners all feature triangular padding that fit on the ropes.

The Rounds

A round is the duration for which boxers fight. Typically, fights are composed of an even number of three-minute rounds. Amateur boxing typically consists of fewer rounds and may even go for reduced time, but professional boxing usually consists of eight, ten, or twelve rounds. Regardless of level, bouts have minute rests between each round.


The jab is a straight punch from the forward most hand. For orthodox boxers, this is the left hand, and for southpaws, it is the right. It is a quick punch usually thrown to set up for a combination or keep the opponent at a distance.


The straight is a power punch from the backmost arm. It is a straight punch thrown from the shoulders.


Hooks are punches thrown from the sides. To throw a hook the boxer swings from the torso, holding the punching hand at a 90-degree angle from their side. Hooks are power punches that can be thrown to the flanks or the head.


Uppercuts are punches thrown in an upward direction. The boxer loads like a spring and then extends the knees, using the shoulder for added power. Uppercuts almost exclusively are meant to land on the opponent's jaw and have the potential to be devastating.

The Stance

A boxer's stance refers to the position of his body when throwing punches. Regardless of handedness, a good stance consists of good hand placement, a slight bend in the knees, and a sort of sideways turn that points the hip of the forward leg at the opponent. Turning sideways makes the boxer a smaller target from head-on, and the slight knee bend makes it easier to make quick, agile movements.


Orthodox boxers are right-handed boxers. Their stance uses their right hand as the power hand, placing it in the back. Their left foot is placed forward, utilizing the left hand for jabs.


Southpaw boxers are left-handed boxers. Their stance uses their left hand as the power hand, placing it in the back. Their right foot is placed forward, utilizing the right hand for jabs. Southpaws have a notably more difficult time fighting other southpaws, being that there are so few left-handed fighters.

Switch Fighters

Switch fighters can fight in orthodox and southpaw stances. They will often utilize whichever stance better fits the situation.

Bob and Weave

Bobs and weaves are defensive maneuvers that consist of dodging a punch by moving in a circular motion relative to the canvas around the punch.


A slip is a defensive maneuver that consists of moving forward and to the outside of a punch. This puts the slipping boxer in a prime position for counterpunching opportunities.


Ducks are defensive maneuvers executed by bending the knees and lowering right under the punch.


Pivoting is a defensive and movement technique that consists of keeping the forwardmost foot in place while swinging the backfoot clockwise or counterclockwise. This pivot the angle of engagement for the moving boxer and may expose weaknesses in the opponent's defense.


Blocking is a technique where a defending boxer uses their gloves or their arms to absorb punches. Since punches that do not connect with the torso or head are not considered to be scoring punches, the technique prevents the opponent from scoring.


Parrying involves a defending boxer using their gloved hand to bat away an opponent's punch. This usually only works to defend against jabs.


A clinch is when one boxer "ties up" and wraps their arms around an opponent to prevent them from punching.

Counter Punching

Counterpunching is a strategy that relies on waiting for an opponent to punch, and then striking the gaps in their defense created during their offensive strike.



Knockouts are fight-ending events characterized by loss of consciousness, buckling of the knees, and loss of muscle tone. In the event of knockouts, the fighter delivering the blow is the victor. In the rare event of a double knockout, or a simultaneous trade of punches resulting in both fighters being knocked out, the fight is counted as a draw.


Knockdowns occur when a fighter sustains a punch and then falls to the canvas, but is able to continue fighting.

Technical Knockouts

A technical knockout, or TKO, is a stoppage that occurs following an event that qualifies one fighter as unfit to continue. Such events could be uncontrolled bleeding, poor or diminished mental capacity, or failure to provide a good defense. TKO's can be called by referees or ringside physicians, depending on the grounds for the stoppage.

Going the Distance

Going the distance refers to completing the bout for its full number of rounds. At this point, the winner is determined by a panel of three judges. The judges score the fight by rounds on a 10 point-must system. The winner of a single round receives 10 points for that round, while the other boxer receives 9. These numbers can be reduced by fouls. The rounds are totaled, and the three totals from the judges are used to declare a winner.

Unanimous Decision

A Unanimous Decision occurs when all three judges score in favor of one boxer.

Majority Decision

A Majority Decision occurs when two judges score in favor of one boxer, and the third scores the fight as a draw.

Majority Draw

A Majority Draw occurs when two judges score the fight a draw, and the third scores the fight in favor of one boxer.

Split Decision

A Split Decision occurs when two judges score the fight in favor of one boxer, and the third scores the fight in favor of the opposing boxer.

Split Draw

A Split Draw occurs when two judges score the fight a draw and the third scores the fight in favor of one boxer.

Unanimous Draw

A unanimous draw occurs when all three judges score the fight a draw.

Commentator Talk

Blow by Blow

The blow by blow is just another name for the given TV commentary.

The Card

The card is the list of all bouts fought at a particular event. It consists of an undercard where lesser known fighters will compete leading up to the main event for the night or the featured bout.

Below the belt

Below the belt refers to a punch thrown below the mid abdomen. This is considered to be an illegal punch and can result in a point deduction.

Beat the Count

As mentioned earlier, when a boxer suffers a knockdown, they will be given to the count of ten to affirm their ability to fight. If they are able to convince the referee that they can continue before the count reaches ten, then the boxer has "beaten the count."

Beat to the Punch

Beating to the punch refers to being the first one to make scoring contact. This puts pressure on an opponent when the striking boxer has a speed or reach advantage.

Down for the Count

Down for the count is the opposite of beating the count. It means that a boxer is unable to continue fighting and has lost the fight. Cold knockouts that do not receive a count can also have this phrase tagged to them.

Glutton for Punishment

A glutton for punishment is a boxer that continues to take scoring punches without using any defensive moves.

On the Ropes

On the ropes refers to when one boxer has their back to against the ropes enclosing the ring. This is typically considered a bad thing for the boxer in this position, because they don't have room to move, making them an easy target.

Punch Drunk

Punch drunk refers to the behavior a boxer can display following being hit with power punches. They may start to sway and stagger, resembling an intoxicated individual.

Roll with the Punches

Rolling with the punches is a move where a boxer moves with the punch that is hitting them. This reduces the force of the punch. This is also used idiomatically to say a boxer is enduring an offensive onslaught.

Saved by the Bell

Saved by the bell is a term that refers to when one boxer is being beaten very badly, but the brutality is stopped short thanks to the round coming to an end.

Throw in the Towel

Throwing in the towel is a symbolic way of forfeiting the match.

Referee Terms


A foul is any infringement of boxing rules and may result in a myriad of responses including warnings, point deductions, or immediate disqualification for the offending boxer.


A break usually follows a clinch and refers to when the referee separates the two boxers.

Sucker Punch

A sucker punch is an illegal punch that is thrown against an unsuspecting opponent after the round has ended.

Low Blow

A low blow is the same thing as a punch thrown below the belt.

Kidney Punch

A kidney punch is a punch that lands on the lower part of an opponent's back and is considered illegal.

Rabbit Punch

A rabbit punch is a punch to the back of the head and refers to the way trappers used to kill rabbits.

The Count

The count refers to the counting that occurs following a knockdown or "standing-knockdown." Knockdown counts go to ten, and if the afflicted boxer can affirm their ability to fight before the count expires then they can continue. Otherwise, the fight is over, and the opposing boxer wins.

Standing Eight Count

A standing eight-count is administered when one boxer endures a damaging offensive assault but remains standing. Because the boxer is standing and does not have to get up from the canvas, the cadence is reduced by two.

Neutral Corner

A neutral corner is one of the two diagonal corners in which neither boxer rests between rounds. This is the area that a striking boxer is to wait when the referee administers a count.


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