Boxing Terms

Check out these list of terms to help understand the sport of boxing:

Accidental Butt: When the heads of both fighters just so happen to collide during the course of a fight. No one is ruled responsible in such a case.

Alphabet Groups: Term used to describe the numerous boxing organizations (WBA, IBF, WBC, WBO…) that govern the sport.

Bleeder: A fighter who is vulnerable to cuts.

Bob and Weave: When a fighter moves his upper body in an up-and-down motion, making him more difficult to time correctly.

Bolo Punch: A showy, sweeping punch that looks like a little like an uppercut. More of a showboating tactic.

Bout: Another word for a boxing match.

Brawler: An aggressive fighter who likes to fight on the inside.

Break: The moment when the fighters are separating from a clinch.

Buckle: When fighter’s legs give way, as in “that punched buckled him.”

Canvas: The floor in a boxing ring.

Card: The list of fights happening in a single boxing event.

Caught Cold: Term used to describe a fighter knocked out early in the fight who was not mentally prepared or warmed up properly.

Chief Second: The head trainer in charge of a fighter’s corner.

Clinch: When fighters hold each other.

Combination: A seamless sequence of consecutive punches.

Contender: A fighter in a position to perhaps challenge for a championship.

Corkscrew Punch: A punch thrown in a twisting motion, which often causes cuts.

Cornerman: One of several people who work in a fighter’s corner during a fight.

Counterpunch: Punch thrown in response to another fighter’s attack.

Covering Up: Defensive tactic where a fighter goes into a shell to thwart his opponent’s offensive.

Cross: Power punch thrown straight with the rear hand.

Cutman: Cornerman responsible for tending to swelling and cuts.

Dive: When a fighter purposely loses.

Eight Count: After a fighter is knocked down, the referee must complete a count of eight even if the opponent rises before that.

Enswell: Piece of cold metal that is pressed on swelling to prevent the eyes from closing.

Faded: Term used to describe a fighter past his peak powers.

Feint: When a fighter acts like he’s going to punch but does not in order to get his opponent to react.

Flash knockdown: When a fighter is briefly knocked down, more as a result of a surprise or happenstance than being seriously hurt.

Fringe Contender: Low-rated contender on the cusp of the world rankings.

Gate: Total amount of money generated from ticket sales.

Gatekeeper: Term used to describe a fighter who is not a threat to be champion, but opponents can establish themselves as a legitimate contender by beating him.

Get Off: A fighter’s ability to get his offense untracked.

Glass Jaw: A trait of a fighter with questionable punch-resistance.

Go the Distance: Lasting for the complete scheduled duration of a fight.

Go to the Body: A strategy that centers on trying to deplete an opponents’ resolve by repeatedly punching to the body and not so much the head.

Go to the Cards: When the judges decide who won a fight that either went the distance or was stopped prematurely.

Governing Body: An organization that sanctions fights.

Haymaker: A wild punch intended to knock out the opponent.

Infighting: Close-range boxing.

Journeyman: A skilled fighter, while not necessarily a winning one. Used as opponents and to test up and coming boxers. They lack meaningful connections and take fights on short notice.

Kidney Punch: Illegal body punch thrown to the rear area of an opponent’s body.

Liver Shot: Legal punch when a left hook connects with the lower right side of an opponent’s body with devastating affect.

Low Blow: Punch deemed by the referee to be below the legal level.

Main Event: The most important fight on a card.

Mauler: An inside fighter who tries to prevail by smothering his opponents.

Majority Decision: When two judges agree a certain fighter won, while the third judge scores it as a draw.

Mouse: An isolated and protruding swelling on a fighter’s face.

Neutral Corner: One of two unoccupied corners in the ring and where fighters are sent after they knock down their opponents.

No-Decision: When a fight has no win-lose-draw result, usually from an early-rounds cut or an extenuating circumstance that does not allow a fight to finish.

On the Ropes: Term used to describe a fighter in a dangerous situation trapped with his back against the ropes in a boxing ring.

Orthodox: Describes a right-handed fighter.

Outside Fighter: Boxer that prefers operating from long-range.

Palooka: Term used to describe an aging, losing, or uncelebrated boxer.

Parry: Changing the trajectory of an opponent’s punch using the gloves to slap away the shot.

Paw: To meekly poke a jab out.

Play Possum: To act hurt in an effort to get an opponent to over-commit.

Plodder: A slow-footed fighter with no agility.

Point Deduction: When a foul or series of fouls warrant a one-point penalty, the equivalent of losing a round.

Pound-for-Pound: Term created to rank fighters based on excellence and not weight.

Puncher’s Chance: When an under-skilled, but hard-hitting fighter must rely solely on his punching power to win a fight.

Purse: The money a fighter earns for a given fight.

Rabbit Punch: An illegal punch to the back of the head.

Ring Generalship: When a fighter is controlling and dictating the fight. When one fighter is imposing his will on the fight more than his opponent.

Ringside: A position that is close to the ring.

Roll with the Punches: When an opponent bends and twists with the punch, minimizing its impact.

Rope-a-Dope: Allowing an opponent to go on the offensive while covering up on the ropes and waiting for him to tire.

Roughhousing: When an opponent fights in an overly physical and unruly way.

Rubber Match: When opponents fight for a third time, each having won one bout apiece.

Sanctioning Body: A group that organizes world title bouts.

Saved by the Bell: When a round ends, saving a hurt fighter that was on the verge of being knocked out.
Second: A cornerman.

Shopworn: A fighter who is slowing down after a long career.

Slip: To move the head slightly to avoid a punch.

Southpaw: A left-handed fighter.

Spar: Boxing for practice.

Split Draw: When two judges disagree on who won a fight, while the third judge has it a draw.

Stablemate: Fighters who train at the same gym or under the banner of the same promoter.

Stick and Move: Technique when a fighter moves around the ring fighting only at long range.

Stylist: A fighter who relies on skills rather than brawn.

Sucker Punch: A punch thrown at a distracted or otherwise unprepared opponent.

Titlist: Fighter who holds one of the many available “world” title belts, but is not recognized as the true or linear champion.

Technical Decision: When a bout is terminated prematurely due to a cut or some other circumstance sending the bout to the scorecards.

Technical Draw: When a bout is ended prematurely and the scoring is even.

Technical Knockout: When a fighter is taking too much punishment and the referee stops the bout without completing a ten-count.

Throw in the Towel: When the chief second in a fighter’s corner wants to stop the fight, he throws a towel into the ring.

Toe-to-Toe: When both fighters stand in front of each other and engage.

Trialhorse: Capable but largely unsuccessful opponent used to gauge if other fighters are ready to make a jump in class.

Undercard: Series of fights that take place before the main event.

Upstart: A new fighter with potential.

Walkout Bout: A low-caliber fight at the end of a fight card.

Whiskers: Chin. Used to describe a fighter’s durability, as in “he has a good set of whiskers.”