As mentioned earlier, the Association of Boxing Commissions just had its big annual meeting and one of the small fixes they managed to push through was changes to the definition of a grounded opponent. Here’s the exact text of the new rule:
Kicking or Kneeing the head of a grounded opponent is considered a foul. A grounded opponent is any fighter who has more than just the soles of their feet on the ground. For example, a fighter with one shin or one finger down is to be considered a grounded fighter.
So far so good. Now onto that ground touching shenaniganry:
The ABC recommends that assigned referees discuss the following additional deviation at future rule meetings:
Referees should instruct the fighters that they may still be considered a standing fighter even if they have a finger or portion of the hand (or entire hand) on the canvas. In the discretion of the referee, a fighter who has a finger or hand on the canvas may still be legally struck in the head with knees and kicks. The referee may decide that the downed fighter is placing his or her finger or hand down without doing so for an offensive or countering maneuver in an attempt to advance or improve their position. The referee may decide that the downed fighter is instead simply trying to draw a foul. If the referee decides that the fighter is “touching down” simply to benefit from a foul, the referee may consider that fighter a standing fighter and decide that no foul has occurred.
Additionally, a referee may penalize, via warning or point deduction, the offending fighter for timidity.
Sounds pretty okay, and gives referees the ability to tell fighters to stop it with that shit if he sees them doing it. I believe Big John McCarthy was already known for doing this, but that’s just because he’s got ultimate ref swagger and is a law unto himself.
There’s an extra addition to the grounded fighter rule though that isn’t as cool:
One established deviation from this rule is that the referee may determine a fighter would be a grounded fighter but is not solely because the ring ropes or cage fence has held fighter from the ground, the referee can instruct the combatants that he is treating the fighter held up solely by the cage or ropes as a grounded fighter.
As in the fighter is out on his feet? Seems like the point when a ref should be stepping in and stopping the fight, not yelling out nonsensical orders about a guy being grounded. Let’s hope we don’t see that little interpretation rearing its ugly head any time soon.