Boxing can be a bit complicated with regard to its fouls.
Offenders can receive warnings, point reductions, and even a disqualification, depending on 1) the number of times the foul was committed, 2) one’s intention (mistake vs. flagrant), and 3) its level of seriousness. Obviously, some fouls are more serious than others and safety determines a foul’s gravity. In the end, the referee has the ultimate power as he/she can warn, penalize, and disqualify a fighter how and when they choose.
Referee discretion fouls, especially of the less serious variety, are subjective as referees – as individual thinkers – have varying thresholds for certain acts. For example, most referees are very tolerant of pushing. Although illegal, it rarely draws a warning. However, as we saw in Khan vs. Peterson (2011), some referees will enforce it and will usually communicate their intentions via warnings early on.
Just because referees in Khan’s previous bouts may have been liberal with regards to enforcing the ‘no pushing’ rule, their actions are in no way a precedent for future officials – And that’s what can make things a bit confusing.
Example: A referee’s discretion is similar to that of a policeman. Some policemen will issue a ticket for going only 7 mph over the speed limit while others, in the same situation, won’t pull you over unless you’re going 15 mph over. The great thing about boxing is that a fighter will usually get warned 1-3 times before points are deducted, as was the case for Khan vs. Peterson.
Keep the above in mind as you review the 28 big-time boxing fouls/penalties below.
28 No-nos during a professional boxing match
(And keep in mind, referees will often warn a fighter prior to taking away points or disqualifying him. But again, verdicts are based on the seriousness of the foul and the referee’s discretion.)
1, Rabbit punching; Hitting behind the head
(Hopkins vs Jones 2)
2. Low blows; Punches below the belly button; especially but not limited to the groin area
(Bowe vs Golota 1 and 2)
3. Punching an opponent while he is down, regardless of whether he/she is on the canvas from a punch slip
(Dirrell vs Abraham)
4. Holding and hitting; Holding an opponent with one hand and punching with the other.
5. Excessive holding/clinching
(Tyson vs Ferguson)
6. Kicking, kneeing, elbow and shoulder strikes, tackling and wrestling/takedowns
(Bowe vs. Tillery)
7. Excessive pushing
(Yes, Khan vs. Peterson is a fine example)
(Mayweather vs. Ortiz)
9. Punching with an open glove, the inside of the hand, or backhanding
10. Repeatedly falling to the canvas (to buy time) without being knocked down or pushed to avoid being punched
(Klitschko vs. Haye)
11. Kidney strikes
12. Jabbing with the thumb of the glove
13. Disrespecting a referee or refusing to follow his instructions
(Judah vs. Tszyu; And yes, that even applies to trainers, ex: Norman “Stoney” Stone)
14. Hitting on the break
15. Intentionally spitting out your mouthpiece. Fighters will often do it to buy time when hurt
(Corrales vs Castillo)
16. Using the ropes for leverage; You cannot throw a punch or spin while holding on to the ropes to gain leverage.
17. Punching on or outside of the ropes
18. Biting/ Spitting
(Tyson vs Holyfield 2)
19. Stepping on an opponent while he’s down
20. Crouching below your opponent’s waistline
(‘Sweet Pea’ Whitaker, was that you?)
21. Leaving your neutral corner without the referee’s signal
22. Cornermen entering the ring during live action
(Kirkland vs. Molina / Tyson vs. McNeeley)
23. Repeatedly turning your back to an opponent
24. Refusing to make any attempt to fight
(Lewis vs McCall 2)
25. Punching after the bell
(Terry Norris multiple times)
26. Excessive showboating (i.e. too much talking and/or gesturing and not enough fighting)
27. Using the forearms: Employing the forearms to push against your opponent’s throat or neck area can result in a foul.
28. Illegal hand wraps or gloves: Using modified or tampered equipment can lead to disqualification.
It’s important to note that while these examples cover a wide range of potential fouls, the enforcement of these rules is subject to the referee’s discretion and the specific circumstances of each match.