What's the Difference Between a KO vs TKO? | Explained

In this page we will cover the common misconception of a KO vs a TKO, what the differences are between the two, and which one is worse.

Table of Contents

Difference Between a KO vs TKO

According to John McCarthy, a KO is labeled when a fighter cannot intelligently defend himself due to the blows that he has received. A TKO is labeled when a fighter has the ability to defend himself but can't due to being overwhelmed by the other fighter.

In a KO, the damage has already been done, and in a TKO the ref is preventing unnecessary damage.

ko strike

More often than not, a fighter will be given plenty of opportunity to intelligently defend himself before the referee waves off the fight due to a TKO.

In fact, referees will shout to the fighter that he needs to 'Show him something' when the referee is in a position where he may call the fight off.

This simply means that the fighter must move around or switch to another position to avoid taking unanswered shots.

When a fighter is able to do this, it means that he is still coherent, and still has the ability to defend himself.

When a fighter remains in the same spot, without any visible action, a referee has no choice but to call off the fight.


Medical Suspensions

Commissions use fight history to determine medical suspensions including TKO, KO and submissions.

It's very important that a fight outcome is labeled correctly specifically with a KO and a TKO, as a KO will be a longer suspension than a TKO.

If a fight outcome is wrongly mislabeled a TKO instead of a KO, a fighter may be able to come back sooner than they should, and be at a greater risk of hurting themselves.

winner in a fight

Is a TKO Worse Than a KO?

No technically, a Knock Out is worse than a Technical Knock Out, as in a KO a fighter was unable to intelligently defend himself due to the blows that he/she has received.

In most cases, a KO causes much more damage to a fighter than a TKO.

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