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Gone in 20 seconds – 20 fights that finished in the time it takes to wash your hands

20 seconds article Valero
We should wash our hands for at least 20 seconds. A lot can happen in that time. An entire boxing match, stars can be made, careers can end, records broken, destinies changed, as Oliver Fennell finds out

OFFICIAL advice tells us we should wash our hands for at least 20 seconds as part of efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus. It might not sound like a long time, but to put it into perspective, a lot can happen in 20 seconds – or less. An entire boxing match can take place, and stars can be made, careers can end, records can be broken, and destinies can be changed.

It’s a reminder that, when live boxing eventually returns to our TV screens and you head to the bathroom to make yourself comfortable before settling down for the start of a match, don’t forget to wash your hands afterwards – but do so before the first bell rings!

Here, Boxing News takes a look at some of the more notable super-quick finishes seen in our sport, involving everyone from legends and big names to novices and unknowns, and everything from world title fights to mismatches, oddities and high farce.

20 seconds

Chris Eubank v Reginaldo dos Santos

September 22, 1990, London

Eubank perfectly stoked the fires of his fierce rivalry with Nigel Benn just two months before their first encounter. With the British public still unsure what substance lay behind the enigmatic Brighton character, Eubank nonchalantly ambled across the ring and hit dos Santos with a cricket-bowler right hand to the ear that short-circuited the Brazilian’s nervous system. As dos Santos flailed, stiff-limbed, on the canvas, Eubank struck a customary arrogant pose to the TV audience, and his looming showdown with Benn suddenly got a whole lot more interesting.

Chris Eubank

Gerald McClellan v Jay Bell

August 6, 1993, Bayamon, Puerto Rico

It’s perhaps no surprise that the fastest finish in middleweight title history came at the fists of the G-Man, one of the most ferocious performers the division has seen. McClellan hit Bell with a left hook to the liver that left his fellow American writhing in pain on the deck for several minutes after the 10-count had been completed. At the time, it was the shortest world title fight in history, and remains the third-shortest. It was also the first in a hat-trick of one-round finishes for McClellan in a WBC reign that spanned a combined 3 minutes 20 seconds.

Terry Dunstan v Alexander Gurov

February 14, 1998, London

Poor Gurov. The Ukrainian cruiserweight was world-rated for much of his career; he was a two-time WBA title challenger and four-time European champion, but his two appearances on British television lasted a combined total of 65 seconds. Almost eight years before David Haye defeated Gurov in 45 seconds, Dunstan turned him over in less than half the time, a single overhand right putting the southpaw down for the count. It remains the shortest European title fight at any weight.

Edwin Valero v Aram Ramazyan

December 5, 2005, Paris

Future WBA super-featherweight champion Valero made his name with a then-record of 18 consecutive first-round finishes to start his career. This was the 17th, and fastest, in the streak. Ramazyan, a mediocre and little-known Armenian, was 6-2-2 going in. Southpaw Valero took him out with a straight left and three fights later would be crowned WBA 130lb champion.

19 seconds

David Tua v John Ruiz

March 15, 1996, Atlantic City

On paper, it was the most intriguing bout on a bill titled “Night of the Young Heavyweights”, but it ended up a short, brutal rout. Tua unhinged Ruiz with a sweeping left hook and then unloaded until the Puerto Rican fell unconscious a few violent seconds later. It was a star-making turn by the Samoan slugger, who became a major TV attraction as a result of this and several other exciting performances, but it was Ruiz who would ultimately go on to have the better career, twice winning the WBA belt.

18 seconds

Jack Dempsey v Fred Fulton

July 27, 1918, Harrison, New Jersey

Fulton was a front-runner for a shot at world heavyweight champion Jess Willard, and in fact had been scheduled to challenge Willard earlier this same month, only for it to be cancelled amid complications relating to World War I, which was raging at the time. Fulton instead elected to take on Dempsey in the interim, and was a betting favourite against a man who would later become one of the great heavyweights. It was a disaster for the “Rochester Plasterer”, as he was taken out in a matter of seconds, and would never get his title shot. Contemporary newspaper reports told of a right to the jaw doing the damage. Fulton would later claim he had only agreed to an exhibition match and had been “double crossed” by Dempsey’s full-power onslaught. Dempsey scoffed at this, and promised to knock Fulton out once more if their paths ever crossed again.

Jack Dempsey

Tyrone Brunson v Terry Rork

August 20, 2005, Monroe, Michigan

On March 29, 2008, Brunson overtook Edwin Valero and set a new record for most consecutive first-round stoppages from the start of a career. Unlike Valero, who fought some at-least-OK opposition during his streak and would go on to win a world title, Brunson was not a top-level operator and his 19 sub-three-minute victims were of the bottom-drawer variety. Among them was Rork, Brunson’s fourth opponent, who never fought before or since, and of whom almost nothing is known. Brunson’s run was snapped in his 20th bout when he held to a draw by a 12-9-1 journeyman.

Allan Green v Jaidon Codrington

November 4, 2005, Miami, Oklahoma

In a meeting of undefeated young prospects, 17-0 Green sent 9-0 Codrington reeling into the ropes with a left hook, then pounced with a 16-punch combination that left the New Yorker draped face-first over the second strand. When he came round several minutes later, Codrington was taken straight to hospital. It was named Knockout of the Year by The Ring magazine and was one of the earliest boxing hits on YouTube.

17 seconds

Daniel Jimenez v Harald Geier

September 3, 1994, Wiener Neustadt, Austria

It was all in place for Geier. After a 20-fight unbeaten run, his country got behind him as he bid to become Austria’s first boxing world champion, with hometown advantage and live on national television. What he became instead was the high-profile losing side of the new record for fastest finish in a world title fight, as Puerto Rican WBO super-bantamweight holder Jimenez laid him out for 10 with his first punch. The record would stand for 23 years.

16 seconds

Nigel Benn v Ian Chantler

November 24, 1987, Wisbech

A young Benn was tearing through all in his path and earning comparisons with Mike Tyson’s intimidating rise, albeit at middleweight. This nationally televised demolition of the much more experienced Chantler raised his stock further. Benn bobbed and weaved into range, uncorked one right hand to render Chantler unconscious, and banked his 11th straight victory, eight of which had come in the opener.

15 seconds

Ovill McKenzie v Jeff Evans

November 11, 2011, Halifax

“The Upsetter” McKenzie was always a fast starter, and never more so than in this vacant Commonwealth light-heavyweight title fight, when he absolutely mugged Welshman Evans. The British-Jamaican co-challenger immediately forced Evans back with an aggressive opening, and uncorked a hellacious right hand to stretch him out cold over the bottom rope. It was the shortest Commonwealth title fight of all time.

13 seconds

Jimmy Thunder v Crawford Grimsley

March 18, 1997, Flint, Michigan

This one was over so quickly, the TV camera hadn’t even panned out from a close-up of Grimsley’s face when it was almost punched clean off. Replays showed a right hand from the aptly-named Thunder had done the damage, crashing into Crawford’s temple and leaving the American spread-eagled for the 10 count. For context, Grimsley had in his previous contest taken George Foreman – one of the hardest-hitting heavyweights in history – the full 12 rounds.

12 seconds

Angel Luis Torres v Gabriel Krizan

May 30, 2003, Mashantucket, Connecticut

Protect yourself at all times, they always say. But at the same time, most boxers are decent sorts who display high levels of respect to one another. So, when Slovakian Olympian Krizan motioned to touch gloves with his American opponent just after the opening bell, the last thing he expected was for Torres to reject the gesture and lamp him with a left hook instead. Krizan was counted out and then taken to hospital, and never fought again. Torres did not technically do anything illegal, but it was awfully unsportsmanlike.

11 seconds

Shannon Briggs v Luciano Zolyone

December 10, 2005, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Briggs holds the record for most first-round knockouts by a world heavyweight titlist, at 37. As a caveat, one knock against Briggs is that many of his wins came against mediocre opposition. Zolyone’s ledger, though, made Briggs’ look like it was compiled against a murderers’ row. The Brazilian entered this bout with a 20-0-1 record built against novices and nobodies. Desperately outclassed, and outweighed by 29lbs, he was brushed aside with a thudding right to the temple and never fought again.

Zolani Tete v Siboniso Gonya

November 18, 2017, Belfast

The fastest-ever finish to a world title fight was a low-key affair between fellow South Africans in an undercard match in the incongruous neutral setting of Belfast. But 11 seconds was all it took for Tete to become internet-famous after one southpaw right hook rendered Gonya unconscious and stole the show from Carl Frampton and Jamie Conlan higher up the bill. Tete retained his WBO bantamweight belt and set a record that may never be broken.

10 seconds

Phil Williams v Brandon Burke

June 15, 2007, St Paul, Minnesota

A slapstick masterpiece saw Burke enter the ring with a pair of briefs stretched over his groin guard, and then upon the opening bell literally sprint across the ring to get at Williams, whereupon he was immediately met with a flush right-hand counter which had its power amplified by Burke’s head-first charge. Burke faceplanted the canvas and was rescued in the vain attempt of rising, after which he lived forever on YouTube and sports blooper compilations the world over.

Russell Rees v Des Sowden

November 3, 2000, Ebbw Vale

Britain’s fastest-ever legitimate stoppage came as local light-middle Rees made his comeback after nearly seven years out. He clearly wasn’t looking to get rounds under his belt, immediately dropping the Plymouth journeyman with a right hand. Sowden beat the count at six but staggered and was rescued by the referee. Sowden, with only one victory to his name – and that a disqualification when he was hit after being knocked down – retired after this most ignominious of defeats.

9 seconds

Pele Reid v Michael Murray

February 25, 1997, Sheffield

Even shorter than Rees-Sowden was this heavyweight encounter between prospect Reid and journeyman Murray. In fact, it was the shortest fight of any nature in British boxing history – even though no blows were landed. Murray threw the first punch, it was blocked, and his shoulder was dislocated, ruling him out immediately.

4 seconds

Mike Collins v Pat Brownson

November 4, 1947, Minneapolis

The shortest known amateur contest occurred in the 1947 Minnesota Golden Gloves tournament. Anecdotally, Collins floored Brownson within moments and the referee waved the bout off immediately, dispensing with the formality of a count.

1 second

Efe Ajagba v Curtis Harper

August 24, 2018, Minneapolis

The bell rang, and heavyweight Harper immediately stepped through the ropes and walked out. He would later claim it was an act of protest over his purse. Rather than simply not go through with the bout, he thought if he left the bell ring, he would fulfil his contractual obligation and pick up the $6,000 he had been offered. Instead, he was disqualified at the one-second mark, had his purse withheld, and has not been offered any further work.

Note: There are, of course, many other examples of super-fast finishes to fights, and there will be many that were not well documented, either on film or in the press, especially in earlier years when record-keeping was not so meticulous and media coverage not so widespread. Similarly, there may be notable fights from countries without a significant English-language media presence or fan base. This article is not meant to be exhaustive, rather a fun cross-section. If you know of any interesting additions, do let us know.

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