15 key boxing terms

 Keen to bet on boxing, but confused by all the lingo surrounding the sweet science? Here’s a guide to understanding commonly used boxing terms


1. Orthodox stance
  • An orthodox fighter takes their stance with their left foot placed further forward than their right foot.
  • This is the stance usually adopted by right-handed fighters, who will set up powerful overhand rights with jabs thrown with their weaker left hand.
  • Most of the boxing greats – including Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammed Ali and Mike Tyson – have adopted the orthodox stance.
2. Southpaw stance
  • Boxers who fight in the southpaw stance set up in a mirror image of the orthodox fighter – with their right foot further forward.
  • Southpaws are usually left-handed and jab with their right hand, although many, like the welterweight champion Terence Crawford, are adaptable enough to switch between stances during rounds.
  • Great southpaws include Marvin Hagler, Manny Pacquiao and Vasyl Lomachenko.
3. Style
  • Different fighters have different fighting styles and these affect what type of fight plays out and each combatant’s most likely route to victory.
  • There’s some dispute about which fighting styles belong on the definitive list, and it’s worth noting that superior fighters will often switch between styles during a bout, but most lists include ‘out-fighter’, ‘boxer-puncher’ and ‘slugger’.
  • We’re working on an article that will break down each fighting style and analyse its strengths and weaknesses. So keep a look out for that.
4. Weight Class
  • Back in the good old days, boxers fought in eight weight classes: flyweight, bantamweight, featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, light heavyweight, heavyweight.
  • These days, there are 17 weight classes, including an additional class that sits between the classic weight classes (e.g. super bantamweight, super featherweight etc.)
  • On the day before the fight, fighters must be within the limits of their weight class or they risk being disqualified. After the weigh-in, fighters typically rehydrate significantly, meaning they enter the ring weighing as much as a stone or so more than they did on the scales.
5. Jab
  • A jab is thrown with the lead hand (the hand closest to the opponent). Typically, it’s a flashing punch used to set up more powerful punches, such as the cross or hook.
  • Throwing a jab is the shortest route to target, meaning a fighter can quickly bring their hand back to their chin, reducing their exposure to counter-punches.
  • Fighters can also use the jab to keep their opponent at range while building up points on the scorecard.
  • Fighters with an epic jab: Lennox Lewis, Muhammed Ali, Larry Holmes.
6. Hook
  • A hook is a punch normally thrown with the lead hand by bending the arm at the elbow and rapidly rotating the torso.
  • The punch can be thrown to the head, but it can be especially devastating when thrown to the opponent’s liver.
  • For pressure fighters who like to mix it up at close-range, the hook is often the most fearsome punch in the arsenal.
  • Fighters with an epic hook: Joe Frazier, Marco Antonio Barrera, Roy Jones Jr.
7. Cross
  • A cross is a straight punch thrown with the right-hand from an orthodox stance or the left-hand from a southpaw stance.
  • Typically, the cross is a fighter’s most powerful punch and can be used to deliver a one-punch knockout if our guy or gal has enough dynamite in their fists.
  • The cross is often thrown behind a jab – with the idea that the jab will blind the opponent to the unpleasant surprise they have in store.
  • Fighters with an epic cross: Manny Pacquiao, Thomas Hearns, Joe Louis.
8. Orthodox stance
  • An uppercut is a punch that’s typically thrown from close range with bad intentions.
  • Fighters are able to generate considerable leverage when throwing the punch by driving up with their legs.
  • Throwing the uppercut from the outside is a no no in the fight game, because it leaves the fighter completely open to a counter punch.
  • Fighters with an epic uppercut: Anthony Joshua, Mike Tyson, Rocky Marciano.
9. Combination
  • Punches are most effectively thrown in combination, with many of the best fighters in history masterful combination punchers.
  • A skilled fighter will throw combination punches in a particular sequence designed to render their opponent vulnerable to punches thrown later in the sequence.
  • Fighters with excellent handspeed are most naturally suited to combination punching – they can get their combinations off before the opponent is able to respond.
10. Ring
  • Boxing rings vary in size with the standard ring between 16 and 20 feet per-side.
  • Sluggers and pressure fighters prefer smaller rings, which make it easier to cut off their opponent.
  • Each fighter has their own corner where they rest at the end of the round while receiving treatment and tactical advice from their team.
11. Round
  • A professional boxing round lasts for three minutes and there are a maximum of 12 rounds per fight.
  • There are one-minute intervals between rounds, meaning a 12-round fight clocks in at 47-minutes.
  • In general, only championship fights are fought over 12 rounds, with fighters at lower levels fighting over four, six or ten rounds.
12. KO
  • A knockout (KO) typically occurs when a fighter fails to answer the count before the referee makes it to ten.
13. TKO
  • A technical knockout (TKO) is when the referee, fighter’s corner or the ring doctor decide a fighter is in no fit state to continue, without going through the formality of making the ten count.
14. DQ
  • Fighters can be disqualified (DQ) for many reasons, including hitting their opponent repeatedly behind the head or below the belt, despite many warnings from the referee.
15. Decision
  • If a fight goes the distance (i.e. if it reaches its full allotment of rounds without a KO, TKO or DQ) it goes to the cards.
  • Fights are scored round-by-round by three (theoretically) independent arbiters: the judges.
  • Judges score fights on a ten-point scale (the ‘ten-point must system’), with ten points awarded to the superior fighter and 9 to their opponent. If a boxer is knocked down, they will lose a further point. When judging a round, the referees will take into account the volume of punches landed, the power of those punches and which fighter is dictating the action (‘ring generalship’).
  • The winner of the fight is the guy or gal who receives more points from at least two of the referees. If neither fighter manages this, the fight is a draw.

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