Flash knockdown: What is it?

By Leroy Cleveland - July 2, 2022

There are authoritative knockdowns and there are “flash knockdowns.”You may have heard a fight commentator say at ringside, “That was just a flash knockdown.” 

So what is a flash knockdown?

First, let’s define “knockdown:”

An official knockdown is ruled in boxing when a fighter is punched and:

a) a part of his/her body other than the feet touch the canvas (such as his butt or glove)

b) when a fighter is being held up by the ropes (i.e. the fighter would have fallen had the ropes not been there) 

c) when a fighter is hanging on, through, or over the ropes and

d) cannot protect himself and, for whatever reason, is lodged in a position where he can’t fall

Knockdowns usually occur when a fighter is hit by a hard punch or a series of blows that physically move him/her or offset the recipient’s equilibrium thus causing the knockdown.

Flash Knockdown
Many assert a flash knockdown occurs when a boxer is floored but rises to his feet quickly, just as or before the referee begins the count. Moreover, some would refer to it as a no-count.

But a flash knockdown is really just a “fluke” knockdown when the floored fighter hasn’t been the least bit hurt and is more embarrassed than anything else.

In these cases, a fighter is usually floored because he/she was punched while off-balance or in an awkward position. And sometimes, a fighter can be floored by a light punch or glancing blow simply because he/she was caught off guard – Not because the shot had devastating effects. 

I was the victim of a flash knockdown once and barely felt the punch. As a matter of fact, it may have been one of the lighter shots I absorbed during that sparring session – But I didn’t see it and was caught by surprise. I wasn’t the least bit dazed or hurt.

In 1971, Joe Frazier unleashed a wicked left hook to the chin of Muhammad Ali in the 15th Round of their heavyweight super fight. Although Ali arose very quickly (the count of 3?) it was not a flash knockdown. That was a real and legitimate powershot and the knockdown it produced was, by no means, a fluke. 

Ali could have gotten up at 1 and it wouldn’t have been a flash knockdown.

Authoritative Knockdown. NOT a flash knockdown

Sometimes how a fighter reacts when fighting resumes (after the knockdown)  is an indication of whether he/she was the victim of a flash knockdown.

If the fighter is cautious, more defensive, or a bit unsteady (as Ali was above), he/she was definitely impacted so the event couldn’t or shouldn’t be categorized as a flash knockdown.

But if she/he, after being floored, immediately resumes fighting as if nothing happened, the event might classify as a flash knockdown. 

Are flash knockdowns and authoritative (regular) knockdowns scored the same?

Answer: Absolutely.

The strength of the actual knockdown is not judged, only the knockdown itself.  

Prominent Nevada boxing judge Duane Ford told SecondsOut:

“It is important that a judge NOT evaluate the strength of a knockdown! By that, you still must give 2 points for the knockdown. Do not confuse yourself by trying to say, ‘It was a flash knockdown and the fighter got right back on his feet. A knockdown is a knockdown and gives him 2 points for the knockdown.’ “


In the video below, Pernell Whitaker is victimized by a classic “flukish” flash knockdown against Diosbelys Hurtado. Whittaker, who was caught by surprise and a bit off-balance, was unphased by the punch and seemed in utter disbelief he’d tasted the canvas.

Flash Knockdown: Oscar De La Hoya is the victim of a flash knockdown in the video below. He got short-circuited by a good, quick counter punch but appeared unphased. After fighting resumed, he showed no ill effects and stopped his opponent later in the round. It was as if the knockdown never happened.

Tags: boxing terminology