A standing eight count, also known as a protection count, is a boxing judgment call made by a referee during a bout. When invoked, the referee stops the action and counts to eight. During that time the referee will determine if the boxer can continue. When the count reaches eight, the referee often moves back two steps and instructs the boxer to walk towards them and hold their arms out. This helps the referee determine if the boxer is functioning and alert enough to continue. If the boxer is unsteady on his feet, or seems unable to focus on the referee, the bout is ended on account of a TKO. Typically, a boxer can take up to three standing eight counts in a round.
The standing eight count is designed to protect boxers by allowing the referee to step in and give an overwhelmed fighter an eight-second respite. Standing eight counts by the referee are scored the same as a knockdown, whether the boxer was knocked down or not. The Association of Boxing Commissions eliminated the standing eight count in 1998 and it is usually not invoked in professional bouts today.
A standing eight count is different from a mandatory eight count, which is only assessed once a fighter is knocked down.
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