Boxing lingo 101: Refereeing decisions and match outcomes

von {{ author }} Kate Rosindale an Aug 15, 2021


The technicalities of official boxing language as well as the more informal sayings can be tricky to follow for new fans of the sport.

Here we delve into some of the unique boxing terminology surrounding refereeing decisions and match outcomes.

Check out our handy A-Z to find out just how much of a knockout you really are in the boxing lingo department. 

Automatic warning: Issued by the referee when a fighter commits the same foul twice in a bout.

Beat the count: A boxer gets back on to their feet from a knockdown before the referee reaches the count of ten seconds.

Break: The referee’s order to step back from a clinch.

Caution: The lightest penalty given by a referee for an infringement of the rules by a boxer; three cautions can lead to an automatic warning.

Count: The referee counts the seconds after a boxer is knocked down; if they are down at the end of ten-counts, the bout is over by a knockout.

Decision: A fight goes its scheduled duration (or ends earlier because of an accidental headbutt), resulting in the need to go to the judges' scorecards for the verdict.

Disqualification: A boxer repeatedly fouls or infringes the rules, and is disqualified by the referee.

Draw: The outcome when two contenders earn equal points from the judges scoring the contest. 

Knockdown: A fighter is punched and a part of their body other than their feet touches the canvas, or they are being held up by the ropes, or they cannot protect themselves while in a position where they can't fall. 

Knockout: A boxer is knocked down and the referee reaches the count of ten before the boxer is back on their feet. 

Loss on points: A boxer amasses fewer points than their opponent. 

Majority decision: Two of the three judges decide in favour of one boxer, while the third official calls the bout a draw. 

Out for the count: Knocked out for the referee’s count of ten seconds. 

Point deduction: The referee deducts a point from a boxer who infringes a rule. 

Points: Awarded to a boxer by judges for successful punches to an opponent's head and body, knockdowns, defence, etc., and deducted by the referee for infringing the rules.

Split decision: Two of the three judges decide in favour of one boxer, while the third official deems the opponent the winner.  

Technical decision: A bout is stopped by an unintentional foul, and the bout is ruled a ‘no decision’ if a certain number of rounds have not been completed; or if enough rounds have been completed then the boxer who was ahead on points from the judges is awarded a win.

Technical knockout: The referee ends a bout after deeming a contender is unfit to continue, perhaps to protect a boxer who is being unduly punished, or as a result of injury; sometimes the boxer's corner may ask the referee to stop it, throw in the towel, or the boxer themselves may retire of their own choice. 

Unanimous decision: All officials score in favour of one boxer so it’s a win on points; usually decided by three judges, or by two judges and the referee. 

Win on points: A boxer amasses more points than his opponent during a bout.