Boxing decision question.

John Deau and Dick N. Jayne are fighting for the chumpionship of the whirled. A 12 round bout. 3 knock down rule, no saving by the bell except in the last round.

For 11 rounds Deau dominates Jayne, winning every round and overwhelmingly ahead on points. With a few seconds left in the 12th round (Deau brutalized Jayne through most of it) Jayne scores a blow that sends Deau to the canvas.

The ref only reaches the count of 9 when the bell rings. Round is over. Deau remains flat on the canvas out cold.

How do the judges rule? The ref could have stopped the fight without the count, but he didn’t. The round ended and Deau was not officially “knocked out”. Do the judges go by the scoring and award the fight to Deau. Or do they acknowledge that even with the bell Jayne scored a knockout and give him the win?

Has anything even remotely similar to this ever happened?

This is covered by the version of the “saved by the bell” rule in place for the fight in question.

A boxer may be relieved of the burden of getting back to his feet within the appointed count (usually 10) if the bell sounds. This may apply at the end of every round, or only the final round.

Or (commonly) it may not apply - a boxer cannot be saved by the bell.

If the contract called for a rule that would allow for a save by the bell in the last round the knocked out individual would win the fight.

Twice that I am aware of - Stanley Ketchel’s fight with Philadelphia Jack O’Brien, where Ketchel came from behind to floor O’Brien four times in the last two rounds. O’Brien finished the fight with his head in the resin box in the corner. It was a no decision fight, so neither man won or lost (a very common outcome in those days).

The other time is Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Meldrick Taylor. Chavez was way behind going into the final round. Then he landed a right, and Taylor went down, hard. He got up, but the ref stopped the fight with three seconds left, awarding the win to Chavez.

According to the rules, if there is no saving by the bell in the last round, then the fighter is not knocked out and it goes to a decision. So Deau should win, in your scenario. If he won every round (assuming the 10 point must system), then even a 10-0 round would not overcome Deau’s lead. If Jayne were behind 9 rounds to 2, and every round was a 10-9 round, then he could win. But, in my experience, a judge who will not award a 10-8 or greater edge for anything but a knockdown would simply call the last round a 10-8 for Jayne and Deau would still win.

There would probably be a rematch, and my money would be on Jayne. In both the fights mentioned above, there was a rematch, and both Ketchel and Chavez won by knockout.


This exact situation is almost universally avoided now by a rule that no fighter can be saved by the bell in any round (or less commonly in the last round, but usually any round).

Since this is about sports, let’s move it to the Game Room.

General Questions Moderator

There have been many fights where boxers were saved by the bell. It hasn’t been that common in title fights, I don’t know of any in a title fight. It is still common for the rules to allow saving by the bell in the final round because at the end of the final round the fight is over and the referee can no longer make a decision to declare a fighter knocked out. It rarely matters any more though, when fighters are actually knocked down in modern boxing the referee will quickly declare a TKO before reaching a ten count unless the boxer is clearly waiting out the count.

Shodan mentioned two well known title fights that came close to the circumstances for saving by a bell. In the Ketchel fight the rules required the fight to be declared a ‘no decision’, and in the Taylor fight the referee Richard Steele stopped the fight while Taylor was on his feet because he was not in condition to continue. In that case Richard Steele was roundly criticized for following the letter and the spirit of the rules, which should give you some idea of how little the rules are respected in boxing. Referees can and do exert an unusual level of discretion in the sport. Long counts and short counts have been numerous, along with allowing fighters to continue even when they risk serious injury. In another case Gerry Coetzee was knocked out by Greg Page almost four minutes into the 8th round. That’s right, 4 minutes into a 3 minute round. The bell had not been rung and the fight continued, and then the bell was rung while Coetzee was still on the canvas. The ruling of knockout was allowed to stand. Ironically, Coetzee had won the title from Michael Dokes who had won it from Mike Weaver following a first round flash knockdown. The referee stopped the fight with Weaver on his feet, while not even looking at him. The referee appeared to be looking at a boxing commissioner outside the ring, worried about his decision in the aftermath of the death of Duk Ku Kim following a title fight against Ray Mancini.