Winner usually the first to act
Action is always faster than reaction, so take control of the situation, do not simply respond to your attacker’s actions. The one to land the first punch will most likely be the winner. Once an attack is imminent and physical action is the only recourse, then strike first.
Most fights begin at close range
Sparring matches are usually conducted with the combatants outside kicking range. From there, one or both of them will close the distance, execute a few techniques, and then move out again. Real fights typically begin at conversation range (punching range) and rarely, if ever, have the back and forth motion seen during a boxing or sparring match. A few punches will be thrown, and, if none should stop the fight, the fight will quickly collapse into grappling range with the opponents grabbing each other. Then moving back to punching range will not be possible due to the grips the opponents have on each other keeping them in close.
Attacker is very unlikely to use martial arts techniques
Most thugs do not have any martial arts training, although they may be experienced in street fighting. Martial artists spend a lot of time practicing with, and against, practitioners of the same discipline. As a result, boxers are good at fighting boxers, and martial artists are good at fighting fellow martial artists.