Here is a non-exhaustive collection of Boxing Terminology, idioms, clichés and related phrases – To be updated organically.
Accidental Headbutt - Often referred to as a Clash of heads. Pretty self explanatory. Non-intentional strike of the head. Traditionally occurs more with Southpaw’s but can happen to any fighters.
Amateur – A boxer who is non-professional i.e doesn’t get paid directly for boxing in the ring, and therefore cannot be ranked or compete
Barnstormer – A thoroughly entertaining fight, a rip roarer. The boxers trade punches, and it could go either way.
Beard – Uncommon terminology used to refer to a fighter’s chin – how well they can take a punch.
Beat the Count – a fighter that is able to get up off the canvas before the 10 count and continue the match
Below the Belt – often used a metaphor for something unacceptable or uncalled for, in boxing refers to the illegal punch area, typically below a line, often dictated by the boxers shorts and abdominal guard.
Brawler – A fighter that lacks technique and finesse or simply chooses to slug it out with their opponent, hoping to wear them down through their stamina and (accumulative) punch power resulting in a knock out.
Bob-and-Weave - Used to refer to a boxer’s headmovement to evade oncoming punches. Usually they will anticpate punches by bending of the knees and shifting weight to the side, moving under the punch.
Body Shot – A punch that lands within the abdomen, often very damaging and believed to drain a fighter’s energy over the course of a fight.
Break – Instruction from the ref for the boxers to separate when they are no longer trading punches without holding each other.
Catchweight – A weight that falls out of the recognised professional weight divisions. Often agreed upon when boxers from different weight classes agree to fight, so they meet in the middle.
Chin – The general ability for a fighter to take a punch to the head, and not feel it’s affects. Also can refer to a boxer’s ability to recover quickly from damaging shots, and remain clear headed, not groggy.
Clinching – When two boxers grapple with each other on the inside. Usually results in the ref breaking it up.
Counterpunch – A expertly timed punch usually in response, or in anticipation to the opposing fighter. They can be really damaging, as the opponent has usually shifted his weight forward.
Down for the count – When a boxer is unable to beat the count (10 seconds), or continue the fight after being knocked to the floor.
Feint – A fake punch or subtle movement used to draw an instinctive response from the opponent, resulting in an exposed area to target.
Flash Knockdown – When a fighter received a count as his gloves touch the canvas, but is not thought to be seriously hurt. This can often occur when a fighter slips, or when he has a good chin, with quick recovery powers.
Go the Distance – When a fight lasts for all of the 12 designated rounds, and goes to the judges’ scorecards.
Glass Jaw – Used to describe a boxer with a fragile or weak chin – they can’t take a punch very well.
Haymaker – A wild swinging punch which attempted to knock the opponent out, generally out of desperation. when behind on the scorecards.
Hometown decision – Used to refer to a biased judges decisions believed to favour the boxer who is at home, or in his country.
Inside Fighter – Boxers who try to cut down the ring and work opening close to their opponents. Often synonymous with brawlers, although they can be skilled pressure fighters as well.
Knockdown – When any part of the boxer’s body besides his feet touch the canvas.
Knockout – When a boxer can’t get up from a knockdown.
KTFO – Knocked the Fuck Out. When a boxer is motionless after the 10 count, rather than up and scrambling around on his feet, groggily.
Low Blow – Although technically a bunch that is below the belt, more often than not, refers to a boxer being hit in the genitals.
Majority Decision – When all three judges score the fight in favour of a boxer
Majority Draw – When all three judges deem the fight a draw on the scorecards
Mandatory Defense – When an organising body forces the champion to fight the number 2 contender, or someone else worthy of a shot.
Neutral Corner – The corner within the ring that is not assigned to either fighter’s camp. Whenever a knockdown occurs or the ref instructs the fighters stop, he may order a fighter into the neutral corner.
On the Ropes - Used to describe a fighter that is in danger of being knocked out, and relying on the ropes to keep him standing.
Orthodox – A fighter that jabs with his left, and crosses with his right. The most common boxing stance.
Pound for Pound – A term used to hypothesise a boxer’s competiveness in relation to those outside his weight class.
Pull one’s punches – When a boxer doesn’t put all of his weight into his punches, perhaps to conserve energy or to increase speed. The opposite is to “Sit” on one’s punches.
Puncher’s Chance – When a boxer is overmatched skill wise, and will only be able to win via KO, he is said to have a puncher’s chance.
Punch Drunk – The seriously debilitating effects of taking one too many punches over the years. Symptoms said to resemble an intoxicated individual.
Purse – The amount two professional boxers will receive for fighting each other, after other costs are deducted such as corner man, sanctioning body, promoters etc.
Queer Street – When a boxer is dizzy or appears to be wobbling around the ring after receiving a damaging blow.
Rabbit Punch – A punch that lands on the back of the head. It comes from an old practice hunters use to swiftly kill rabbits.
Rope-a-Dope – Said to be pioneered or popularised by Muhammad Ali against George Foreman in the classic 1974, rumble in the jungle match. A risky strategy where the boxer invites his opponent to throw punches with the hope that he will tire and be open to counters.
Rubber Match – The third and deciding match after two previous contests were each boxer has won one a piece. Said to come from rubber’s ability to “go either way.”
Saved by the Bell – When a boxer appears hurt, and on the cusp of losing, the bell rings, enabling him the time to recover in his corner.
Scar Tissue – Skin that has been previously damaged by punches, and is even more prone to bleeding and opening up again.
Seconds Out – The phrase used by the refeeree or the ring announcer to declare the start of the next round.
Shoulder Roll A highly skilled type of defence that uses the shoulder to narrows the abdominal target and protect the chin from oncoming punches.
Southpaw - A left handed fighter – Unorthodox.
Split Decision – When two out of three judges score a fight in a boxers favour. Can sometimes be controversial.
Standing Eight Count – The minimal count that referees most often dispense to boxers that have been knocked down.
Sweet Science – A popular fan’s term for the sport of boxing. Kind of denotes the academic approach to pugilism.
Take a Dive – Used when a boxer is believed to go down easily either through lack of heart, or because he is throwing the fight.
Technical Knockout (TKO): When somebody such as the referee or doctor decide that a fighter can no longer safely continue. Likely to happen if a boxer gets a major cut.
Third Man in the Ring – The referee. 2 x fighters + ref = three.
Throwing in the Towel – Metaphor for quitting. Corner man throw in the towel and thus stop the fight to prevent further damage to their fighter.
Tomato Can – A bum, or journeyman fighter that isn’t very skilful and is prone to bleeding. Tomatoes, Blood?
Unanimous Decision – When all three judges rule the fight in favour of a boxer.
If you think there’s any terms that should be added or that I’ve missed, please feel free to comment below.