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History

The 50 greatest one-punch knockouts in boxing history

Mike Tyson boxing history
Some concluded a beating, some came out of the blue. But what all these finishes share is a punch that was a work of boxing art. Matt Bozeat rates his favourite one-punch KOs
  1. GENNADY GOLOVKIN vs MATTHEW MACKLIN
    June 29, 2013

    MACKLIN says the body shot that ended the fight “broke two of my ribs, took my breath away and left me in agony for 20 to 30 seconds.”
  1. PRINCE NASEEM HAMED vs TOM JOHNSON
    February 8, 1997

    ‘NAZ’ had Johnson on wobbly legs several times before finding the finisher in the eighth, a right uppercut.
  1. ANN WOLFE vs VONDA WARD
    May 8, 2005

    COMMENTATORS wondered whether Wolfe could reach the chin of the 6ft 6ins Vonda Ward and the answer was an emphatic: “Yes, with a right hand!”
  1. CHRIS EUBANK vs REGINALDO DOS SANTOS
    September 22, 1990

    NO posing or posturing. Just a right hand. All over in 20 seconds. Nigel Benn would prove to be made of sterner stuff in Eubank’s next victory.
  1. JIMMY THUNDER vs CRAWFORD GRIMSLEY
    March 18, 1997

    THE late Thunder raced to the middle of the ring, aimed a right hand at Grimsley’s jaw and 10 seconds later, it was over.
  1. ZOLANI TETE vs SIBONISO GONYA
    November 18, 2017

    THE quickest ever KO in a world-title fight. The South African southpaws circled each other at the bell and then Tete spotted a gap in Gonya’s defences and jumped in with a sweeping right hook that swept the challenger off his feet. The referee waved the count off at ‘four.’ The fight was over in 11 seconds.
Mike Tyson boxing history

44. MIKE TYSON vs TREVOR BERBICK
November 22, 1986

ONE punch from Tyson dropped Berbick several times. The left hook Tyson let go at the end of a three-punch combination only appeared to graze Berbick, but it left him flopping around the canvas like a toddler in a playpen. At 20 years, four months and two days old, Tyson remains the youngest heavyweight to win a portion of the world title.

43. WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO vs EDDIE CHAMBERS
March 20, 2010

AS Chris Eubank Jnr has subsequently proved several times, the lead left hook is a very difficult punch to land. After Klitschko landed it on Chambers in the 12th, it took the America a couple of minutes to recover.

42. DONALD CURRY vs MILTON McCRORY
December 6, 1985

CURRY smashed a right hand off McCrory’s jaw in round two and all debates over who was the world’s top welterweight were emphatically resolved.

41. PRINCE NASEEM HAMED vs KEVIN KELLEY
December 19, 1997

THE last of six knockdowns was delivered by Hamed’s left hand. Kelley crashed onto his back and, this time, 10 seconds wasn’t long enough.

40. ROY JONES vs GLEN KELLY
February 2, 2002

KELLY wore a “What just happened ?” expression after Jones pulled off a jaw-dropping bit of showmanship. He stuck his hands behind his back, inviting Kelly to punch. The Aussie let a jab go and the next thing he knew he was on the floor, put there by a lighting right-hand counter.

39. GEORGE FOREMAN vs MICHAEL MOORER
November 5, 1994

“SURE the fight was fixed,” said Foreman after becoming the oldest to win the world heavyweight title, with a 10th-round KO. “I fixed it with a right hand.”

38. MIKE TYSON vs MICHAEL SPINKS
June 27, 1988

‘ONCE And For All’ they called this clash between undisputed champion Tyson and the lineal champion – and it lasted all of 91 seconds.
After Spinks picked himself up from an early knockdown, both had the same idea. To throw a right hand with everything behind it…

37. EARNIE SHAVERS vs JIMMY ELLIS
June 18, 1973

“I GREW up on a farm in Ohio,” said Shavers, “and did a lot of farm work. I chopped a lot of trees and threw around bales of hay. It was hard, hard work – and it made me strong. That is where my power comes from.” Shavers was always one punch away from victory. Against Ellis, he was buzzed early on – and then found a right uppercut.

36. WAYNE ALEXANDER vs TAKALOO
September 10, 2004

“I WAS in desperate trouble [from a body punch],” remembered Alexander.

“One more attack on the same place and I would have gone down. That punch took all the wind out of me and Takaloo knew it. When you watch the video you can see him smiling as he goes in to finish me off. He thought his left hook was going to finish me off, but I landed mine first…

“I boxed for 25 years and that one punch defined my career for most fans. Mention my name and that’s what people talk about.”

35. JOE FRAZIER vs BOB FOSTER
November 18, 1970.

‘SMOKIN’ Joe’ possessed a left hook that he reckoned “could knock a man into another time zone” and that was pretty much the effect it had on Foster when the shot connected with his chin in the second round.

34. TIM WITHERSPOON vs ANDERS EKLUND
October 19, 1989

‘TERRIBLE’ Tim popped one, two, three jabs into the giant Swede’s face to line him up for the right hand of all right hands.

33. BOB FOSTER vs DICK TIGER
March 24, 1968

FOSTER’s six-year reign as world light-heavyweight champion started the moment his left hook connected with Tiger’s chin.

32. OLEG MASKAEV vs HASIM RAHMAN I
November 6, 1999

THE force of the right hand Maskaev landed on Rahman’s chin flung him out of the ring as a TV monitor fell in his groin.

31. ASHLEY SEXTON vs USMAN AHMED
January 22, 2010

DERBY taxi-driver Ahmed went all ‘P Diddy’ on his way to the ring and was then blasted out inside a round by a right hand.

30. JULIAN JACKSON vs WAYNE POWELL
June 16, 1990

“THEY could count to 20,” screamed the commentator after Jackson laid out Powell with a counter right hook.

29. TONY ZALE vs ROCKY GRAZIANO
September 27, 1946

AFTER five rounds of thrilling back-and-forth action, Zale came up with an exclamation-mark finish in the sixth. He drove a right hand into the pit of Graziano’s stomach that straightened him up and smashed a left hook onto his unprotected chin.

28. RICARDO LOPEZ vs ALA VILAMOR
March 16, 1996

SURELY the pick of the 38 KOs scored by ‘Finito’ in his 51-0-1 career. The Mexican slipped outside a southpaw jab and fired a left uppercut at Vilamor’s chin.

27. WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO vs KUBRAT PULEV
November 15, 2014.

COMMENTATOR – and ex-WBC super-middleweight champion – Richie Woodhall called the finishing punch “one of the best left hooks you will ever see.”

knockouts boxing history

26. JULIAN JACKSON vs BUSTER DRAYTON
July 30, 1988

FOR a split second, Drayton left a gap in his guard and the next thing he knew, he was on his back, put there by a left hook.

25. FLOYD PATTERSON vs INGEMAR JOHANNESON II
June 20, 1960

IN his autobiography, Patterson described the moment he regained the heavyweight championship with a single left hook. “It landed squarely on his jaw and his head snapped to his left from the force of the blow,” he wrote. “He went over backwards, his feet flying in the air. He must have been unconscious before he hit the canvas.”

24. ARTHUR ABRAHAM vs KHOREN GEVOR
August 18, 2007

GEVOR was left in a heap by a brutal left uppercut he didn’t see coming.

23. DILLIAN WHYTE vs DERECK CHISORA II
December 22, 2018

THE heavyweight rivals landed left hooks simultaneously in the 11th round. Whyte stayed on his feet, Chisora landed flat on his back, bringing a dramatic end to their feud.

22. SAMUEL PETER vs JEREMY WILLIAMS
December 4, 2004

WILLIAMS dropped his gloves for a split second and Peter launched a left hook with all his 247lbs behind it at his unprotected jaw.

21. DEONTAY WILDER vs ARTUR SZPILKA
January 16, 2016

WILDER regards this as the best of his knockouts, a right-hand bomb leaving Polish southpaw Szpilka on the canavs for several minutes.

20. ANTONIO TARVER vs ROY JONES JNR II
November 8, 2008

“IT caught him right on the kisser,” said southpaw Tarver of the left hand that knocked Jones Jnr off the top of the pound-for-pound lists. “That was a perfect punch.”

19. AUDLEY HARRISON vs MICHAEL SPROTT
April 9, 2010

FROM the fifth round, Harrison fought with one hand after injuring his right shoulder and with a certain points defeat only two minutes away, he found a punch-in-a-million to send Sprott crashing.

18. MIKE McCALLUM vs DON CURRY
July 18, 1987

CURRY gave McCallum a glimpse of his chin and that was all he needed. One left hook later, it was over.

17. MICHAEL NUNN vs SUMBU KALAMBAY
March 25, 1989
THESE middleweight technicians seemed certain to serve up a 12-round snooze fest. It didn’t turn out like that. Kalambay jabbed, Nunn countered with a crunching southpaw back hand and that was that.

16. SRISAKET SOR RUNGVISAI vs ROMAN GONZALEZ II
September 9, 2017

GONZALEZ was the unbeaten pound-for-pound No 1 – until he ran into the Thai southpaw. Their first fight went Rungvisai’s way on points and the rematch was settled by a right hook that left Gonzalez wondering where he was for a few minutes.

Manny Pacquiao

15. MANNY PACQUIAO vs RICKY HATTON
May 2, 2009

THE punch that broke millions of British hearts. In his entire career Pacquiao has probably never thrown a better shot than the left hand he detonated on Hatton’s chin in the second round of their Las Vegas showdown.

14. HASIM RAHMAN vs LENNOX LEWIS I
April 22, 2001

THE contemptuous smile Lewis flashed at Rahman [below] after he was jabbed to the ropes was wiped off his face by a right-hand thunderbolt.

13. GERVONTA DAVIS vs LEO SANTA CRUZ
October 31, 2020

WHAT better way to announce yourself as a pay-per-view star than by ironing out a four-weight world titlist with one flawless left uppercut?

12. NAOYA INOUE vs JUAN CARLOS PAYANO
October 7, 2018

“THE Monster” once said: “My aim is a KO in any fight” and it took him only 70 seconds to flatten Payano. Payano, a former WBA champion beaten only by Rau’shee Warren on a majority points vote in 21 previous fights, was felled so heavily by a left-right that Inoue said afterwards he feared he had “really damaged him.”

11. MAIRIS BRIEDIS vs MANUEL CHARR
August 22, 2015.

DAVID slaying Goliath here with one of the best uppercuts you are ever likely to see… Outweighed by 31 1/4lbs, Breidis laid out perennial heavyweight contender Charr in sensational style.

10. JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ vs MANNY PACQUIAO IV
December 8, 2010

AFTER eight years of trying, Marquez finally got his man… Their fourth fight ended abruptly in the sixth when Marquez, behind on the scorecards, found a right-hand thunderbolt he would later describe as “a perfect punch.”

9. SERGIO MARTINEZ vs PAUL WILLIAMS II
November 20, 2010

MINUTES after the fight ended, Williams said to paramedics: “I got hit by a punch?” The punch was a southpaw left hand thrown with maximum force by Martinez.

Dillian Whyte
Mark Robinson

8. ALEXANDER POVETKIN vs DILLIAN WHYTE
August 22, 2020

THERE looked certain to be a KO in the fifth round. Nobody – not even Povetkin, it seemed – expected Whyte to be on the receiving end. After being dropped twice in the fourth, the Russian shook his head as he sat on his stool waiting for the bell. From nowhere, Povetkin found a left uppercut.

7. ANDY LEE vs JOHN JACKSON
June 7, 2014

JACKSON thought he had Lee where he wanted him, dazed and on the ropes. He was wrong. “I bend my legs, making him miss and at the same time creating an angle and let my right hook go,” wrote Lee in his autobiography. “Game over.”

6. CARL FROCH vs GEORGE GROVES II
May 31, 2014

THE rematch between proud veteran Froch and the young and brazen Groves was in the balance after seven rounds.

Froch described what happened in the eighth. “I threw a left hook to touch him, to get my range, and he moved to his left and I threw the right – bang,” he said.

“I felt it landing. The crunch went right up my arm. When you skim them or clip them, you don’t feel anything, but this went right up my arm so I knew it was a good shot. He looked a mangled wreck on the floor. I knew he wasn’t getting up.”

5. JERSEY JOE WALCOTT vs EZZARD CHARLES
July 18, 1951

HISTORIAN Bob Mee described the left uppercut that brought Walcott the world heavyweight title at the fifth attempt as “one of the sweetest, most perfect punches anyone ever threw in a world-title fight.”

Rocky Marciano

4. ROCKY MARCIANO vs JERSEY JOE WALCOTT 1
September 23, 1952

IF ever Marciano needed to land his ‘Suzy Q’ punch it was in the closing rounds for Walcott’s world heavyweight title.

Down in the first, he was cut and losing on points going into the 13th round. “I was covered in his blood,” remembered Walcott, “but he kept coming.”

Until he got Walcott where he wanted him in the 13th round.

“He was starting to throw his left,” said Marciano. “My right was inside of it. I saw my chance and that was it.” Walcott crumpled to one knee, Marciano clipping him with a left hook as he made his way to a neutral corner.

3. THOMAS HEARNS vs ROBERTO DURAN
June 15, 1984

HEARNS hadn’t been quite the same since breaking his right hand against Wilfred Benitez and he knew it. “I don’t just need to win,” he said ahead of the clash. “I need to be devastating.”

Hearns promised a second-round knockout and delivered. Down twice in the first, Duran had his lights turned out in the second by a right hand. “The Hitman” was back.

2. SUGAR RAY ROBINSON vs GENE FULLMER II
May 1, 1957

ROBINSON spent the four months between losing his world middleweight title to Fullmer and the rematch putting together what was known as ‘Operation Left Hook.’

He noticed that when Fullmer launched a right hook to the body, he left himself open to a left hook.

“I feinted a left hook, leaving my midsection open,” wrote Robinson in his autobiography of the fifth-round ending. “He let go his right hand, exposing his jaw. Snapping a left hook with all my strength, I nailed him as he moved toward me, adding to the impact.”

The press called it ‘The Perfect Punch.’

1. JULIAN JACKSON vs HEROL GRAHAM
November 24, 1990

THE Virgin Islander was the knockout artist of all knockout artists. Behind on points here, his left eye swollen shut and barely able to land a punch, Jackson was down to his last bullet. Years later, he explained what happened next. “I caught him right on the chin and he went to sleep.” Simple as that.

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