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21 NOVEMBER 2018


THE PROFESSIONAL BOXING REFEREE: Deducting points and considerations for disqualifying a boxer - An excerpt from "The Professional Boxing Referee Manual"

By Armando Garcia

A single point deduction can be forgotten during the course of a hard fought 12 round bout. In the end, fans may only see the judges’ decision as the point deduction somewhat disappears in the overall scoring. However, one single point deduction has a dramatic impact in a close bout. It may even adversely affect a judge’s concentration momentarily as the referee imposes the deduction.

I’ve stressed that good judgment is a referee’s most important trait, but in these cases, patience and consistency are also of the utmost importance.

Generally, in Olympic boxing the point deduction protocol is: Caution, caution, and point deduction. Then, point deduction and finally, disqualification. This makes it a little easier for the referee. However, this is not Olympic boxing.

So, what do you do? When do you ‘caution’ and when do you deduct points?

Each situation is different. Use all of the tools that you have at hand so that if you’re in a situation where a boxer or both become unruly, your actions will be viewed in a positive manner.

A Referee can do himself a great favor by starting the bout off on the right foot. You take that step well before the bell rings: In the dressing room! We discussed this important event in a recent article. You may find it at:

A world class referee will go into the dressing room and immediately take control. Don’t be timid, say it:

“I don’t want to deduct points or disqualify anyone.” However, if you violate the rules and cause harm to your opponent you will lose points and or be disqualified.”

Explain how this will develop.

“I will give you verbal commands from the outside without stopping the bout to admonish you. Consider it just as important when I tell you from the outside as I would if I call time out.” “Unless it is a very serious offense, I will first give you verbal commands.”

“If it is a harmful foul and I consider it borderline intentional, even if it was the first offense, you may lose a point(s).”

Again, take control before the situations gets out of hand.

Think quickly, but think before you act! If you follow the conduct of the boxers as the bout progresses and you take the aforementioned steps, you will not fail.

The bottom line is, if you have to deduct points and or disqualify, do it. It is unfair to the other boxer if you don’t.

Here are some tips:

Continued infringement of the rules may require a strong admonishment of a boxer even if a point deduction is not in order. This should be done as soon as possible after an obvious harmful foul has occurred.

Generally, strive to give strong clear verbal commands without stopping the bout. If you feel you have to stop the bout, an efficient method of doing so may be to:

1) Secure a safe distance and assume a squared position to the boxers.

2) Command in a loud firm voice, “Time!”

3) Assure that the boxers are completely apart.

4) Stand in front of the offending boxer, without turning your back on the other boxer, and advise him of the foul.

5) Assure that the offending boxer understood the admonishment and that both are separated and ready to continue.

6) Call time back in.

This should not be done in a condescending manner or with excessive emotion that could be construed as a lack of self-control or partiality. This action should be done firmly, clearly and quickly.

If you’re going to deduct a point(s), follow these same steps, but be sure that the offending boxer and judges understood the admonishment.

In several instances throughout “The Professional Boxing Referee Manual”, I use the phrase ‘assume a squared position’. Some fellow officials have asked me to clarify that.

By ‘assume a squared position’ to the boxers I don’t mean be flat footed with your feet spread open in between and in close proximity to the boxers.

The goal is to have your feet set while at the same time giving yourself the ability to shift your position quickly. To accomplish this, the best position for you to take is to be centered to the boxers, at a prudent distance away, with at least your upper body ‘square’ to them. If you’re not in this position, you will be glancing over your shoulder. This positioning starts as you are moving in.

If you know that you will be calling time out, move to a position center to the boxers, have your upper body squared to them with most of your weight on your strong foot. Call time out and at the same time give a clear hand signal.

The idea is to be in a position where your gaze is centered to the boxers; you have the proper stance in case you need to intervene or adjust your position quickly, and be at such a distance where your verbal command can be heard.

I hope this explanation helps. If not, I’ll see you at the next seminar!

Point(s) Deductions

At times, some referees become frustrated and lose concentration when adverse situations occur. The bottom line is, does the boxer deserve to have a point deducted or not? Did the foul cause harm to the opponent? Was the foul committed before? Were there other fouls?

Again, a referee action should not be taken in a condescending manner or with excessive emotion that could be construed as a lack of self-control or partiality. This action should be done firmly, clearly and quickly.


Stopping a bout is the most critical decision made by a referee. The second most critical is disqualifying a boxer. This may have ramifications far more reaching than a loss on the boxer’s record. It could mean a suspension of a boxer’s license, the loss of a TV contract and future big money bouts, a fine, etc.

The referee should disqualify a boxer only when he has grossly infringed the rules and has committed a harmful foul(s) causing a clear advantage over his opponent.

A boxer should be disqualified only when it is clear that he has refused to follow the rules, has disobeyed the referee, and or has caused harm to his opponent by his actions.

Follow the protocol of giving stern cautions. Take command of the bout. Exert good sound judgment. Don’t become frustrated. Be patient. Concentrate!

Any comments boxing friends? Email the author


Armando Garcia is presently licensed as a Referee by the Florida State Boxing Commission, the Miccosukee Athletic Commission and the World Boxing Association (WBA). He is a former International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) Referee/Judge for the USA.

He has been involved in boxing for over 16 years and has refereed 21 world championship fights and judged 8 others since 1994. He regularly conducts international seminars for the WBA and has done so in the USA, Thailand, Spain, Nicaragua and Venezuela. He was recently selected as the WBA International Official of the Year.

He was born in Cuba and immigrated to the United States in 1959.

He presently serves as Facilities Director for Perry Ellis International, a leader in the apparel industry, in Miami, Florida. He is also a former veteran police Detective in the South Florida area.



The ”The Professional Boxing Referee” columns are prepared by Armando Garcia in an effort to establish a criterion for dealing with numerous referee situations and as an attempt to interpret professional boxing rules in a simple manner. In the series, he will also be discussing various important issues related to professional boxing.

Although he has a vast boxing resume, the views, opinions, and/or recommendations contained in this series of columns reflect his own interpretation of referee rules and procedures and not necessarily those of the entities that license him.

Furthermore, since it is possible that general information herein may pertain only to a law, regulation, rule or MARGINAL standard of practice for a particular jurisdiction, a referee, boxer or his/her representatives must always inquire with the appropriate licensing jurisdiction to determine the applicable laws, regulations, rules, and MARGINAL standards of practice for each jurisdiction.

All readers are advised that the information herein is intended solely as a general reference source, and to the fullest extent permitted by law, the information is provided “AS IS” without any warranties of any kind, whether expressed or implied, including without limitation, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement. No one may rely on the accuracy, integrity, quality or completeness of the general information herein. Accordingly, neither the author nor anyone else affiliated with any website or press entity may be held liable for damages of any kind whatsoever allegedly caused or resulting from any such claimed reliance.

If anyone has any questions about this Disclaimer, Waiver of Rights and Indemnity, or any column, he or she should contact Armando Garcia at:

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