The 10 Greatest KOs In Boxing History

You'll still be feeling these on Monday
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You'll still be feeling these on Monday

Sergio Martinez vs Paul Williams

In many ways both Martinez and Williams were boxing anomalies.

Argentinian Martinez was an extremely late starter to the sport, having not even entered a ring until the age of 19, but despite this he would go on to be one of the most highly skilled and longest reigning champions in modern boxing.

Williams' physicality meant he was often avoided, especially after springing a shock victory over Antonio Margarito. His height and solid boxing skills made him an awkward opponent in the ring. He would eventually pick off a series of top class fighters and world champions including Winky Wright, before settling at the door of Martinez for two quite different encounters.

After fighting a controversial non-title fight in 2009 which was awarded to Williams, the two would meet again twelve months later in a surprisingly short contest, which this time would favour the Argentinian. Just four minutes had passed before Martinez caught Williams with one of the best over the top left hands you're ever likely to see. As it echoed around the Arena and Williams crumpled to the canvas, a collective shock rippled throughout the boxing world. Martinez had managed to do to Williams what no one else had managed, and with such devastating brilliance it would still be replayed years later

Thomas Hearns vs Roberto Duran

No one really had the mettle to bully Roberto Duran with controlled violence and offensive strategy, but on a devastating night in 1984, the Panamanian legend was put to the sword by Tommy Hearns.

To say their fight was one sided was a cruel understatement. With his twelve inch reach advantage Hearns had a field day, putting Duran on the canvass with ease, opening up a cut on his eye and hammering the lightweight legend from pillar to post.

It was to get worse however. Pinning Duran on the ropes in round two, Hearns delivered a stunning right hand with power and accuracy onto the jaw of his beleaguered opponent. The sight of arguably one of the most durable fighters in modern boxing falling unconscious onto his face was a sight nobody expected. Duran was counted out and no one ever questioned Hearns' power again, nor his unnerving ability to take it up the weights with him like a jack hammer.

Juan Marquez vs Manny Pacquiao

The thumping of Pacquiao by Marquez was unfairly seen as a huge upset in certain circles, but really their talents were separated paper thin in their fascinating rivalry.

Over three close and at times controversial fights, Pacquiao gained the upper hand but a in fourth match up, Marquez had something cruel and deliberate waiting for him. It came in round 6 with a brutal right hand the Phillipine superstar walked on to like a car crash. It tended him unconscious and the shock could be registered ringside by a stunned audience not used to seeing pound for pound superstars poleaxed like they were made out of paper mache'. It was something that had been coming too. Marquez was one of the few fighters to test the imperious Pacquiao with alarming regularity. He would later call the punch his 'spiritual revenge'.

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Azumah Nelson vs Pat Cowdell

'Pat Cowdell hasn't been on the floor for 13 years.'

As soon as the ITV commentator rolled out that line, it was a certainty what was coming next. A great lightening bolt of an uppercut delivered by Azumah Nelson caught the end of Pat Cowdell's chin before the first round was out, and sent him into a tunnel of light like something had been switched off in him.

It would be minutes before he would get back to his feet as he struggled to regain consciousness. The gulf in class had been there for all to see, especially given that Nelson had been avoided by another British and better fighter in Barry Mcguigan previous to the match up

It was a harsh lesson. Pat Cowdell found out the hard way that desire and determination at the business end of boxing is no match for true class and power. Ultimately it just picks you apart at the seams. That's just the game it is.

Julian Jackson vs Herol Graham

Julian Jackson's punching power was slightly unheralded during the early nineties for two reasons: firstly as a middleweight he was caught up in a division that seemed to have a new superstar every week, and secondly his spotlight was dimmed somewhat by the nefarious presence of Tyson in the heavyweight division.

Jackson could bang though, and how poor Herol Graham would find that out. After controlling their fight in 1990 in the foyer of a Spanish hotel for the first three rounds the Sheffield nearly man would walk on to a Jackson atom bomb in the fourth that would render him unconscious before he even hit the canvass.

The sight of Bomber Graham laying on the floor, completely unaware, with his eyes desperately blinking for clarity was a worrying one for British fight fans. Luckily he recovered and there was no real damage to his dignity either. Jackson would KO an astonishing 49 out of his 55 opponents during his career. Unfortunately Herol Graham just happened to be one of the more spectacular ones.

George Foreman vs Michael Moorer

The second act of a prize fighter often comes with sympathetic applause bordering on cynicism, but in George Foreman loomed an American Dream that was pure vaudeville apart from his two devastating fists. World champion heavyweight Michael Moorer would find this out to his cost in 1994. 

That old adage of the last thing to go is a boxer's punch came calling in the form of a simple one-two which not only broke Moorer's mouthpiece and spirit but also had him counted out as the strange spectre of a middle aged man stared down at him like a cruel uncle.

It had been a fight that Moorer had pretty much dominated, too. For 7 rounds out of 9, he moved sharply around the shuffling Foreman like it was all too easy. He found out the hard way however. It seemed like the stars had finally aligned and it was Foreman's destiny to win. He could never really exorcise the ghosts of Zaire completely due to the enduring force of Ali, but that short clubbing right hand in that ninth and those world championship belts would forever give him a signature in the history books from then on in.

Wayne Alexander vs Takaloo

For the most part, nothing particularly personal or malicious goes on in a boxing ring, but sometimes there can be a punch that can chill even the most hardened fight fans with its accuracy, power and devastating consequences.

Such was the shot Wayne Alexander exploded on to the jaw of Takaloo in a 2004 contest in Bethnal Green for the watching Sky Cameras, a left hook of such ferocity that it brought gasps from the watching audience ringside as it resonated around the hall like an axe being struck against wet logs.

As the dazed Takaloo lay on the canvass all he could do was open his eyes rather than struggle to his feet. As for the hard punching Alexander, it was nothing new. He'd built a career around the type of exploding fists that both thrilled audiences and TV paymasters alike. Even by his standards however, the left hook he took Takaloo out with was an absolute monster. It would burn into the memories of boxing fans for a long time afterwards.

Mike McCallum vs Don Curry

As arguably the most underrated boxer of all time, history has not been kind to the undoubted talents of Mike 'The Body Snatcher' McCallum. His name rarely (if ever) gets a mention when it comes to the greats of the modern game, which is a plain oversight on the part of most boxing historians.

McCallum was involved in some real blue riband fights around the middleweight divisions but his most high profile moment came in a brutal KO of former pound for pounder Don Curry.

Curry, an undisputed welterweight king at one time, still believed he could reign supreme at the higher weights despite having the sheen taken off him with a mugging defeat by Lloyd Honeyghan a year earlier. The hard hitting McCallum, naturally the stronger fighter at light middle, was in no mood for sympathy or temperance as Curry tried to rebuild his reputation at his expense.

For Curry it was to be no fairytale either. Courtesy of a whip hand left hook in the seventh that he never saw coming, his dreams of stepping up with the heavier fighters were crushed with cold reality. He never beat the count and never really recovered and unjustly it remains McCallum's one defining moment in a boxing career that deserves a lot more praise than it ever receives.

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James Toney vs Michael Nunn

Hindsight is fantastic thing.

If Michael Nunn and his handlers had realised the type of fighter they were stepping into a ring with in the form of James Toney in 1991, chances are they would have frozen out the challenger in an absolute instant.

Toney had been intended as a showcase for the the champion, who was at that time one of the most recognisable stars of world boxing, a diamond cut of a middleweight who had been widely regarded as the next superstar of the fight game.

For almost three quarters of the fight that status panned out, but beneath the crude histrionics of Toney there was a brilliant intelligence and natural ability waiting to ooze out. Although way behind on points, he began to work Nunn out and spurred on by his corner began to set subtle traps for the increasingly tired Nunn to walk into.

In round eleven Toney copped his bullseye. A vicious, crushing left hook caught Nunn flush on the jaw and sent him flat to the canvass like a shop dummy crashing down an elevator. Although he would beat the count, he was in no fit state to continue and Toney put him to the sword. It would prove to be a huge turnaround in a fight that many saw as a shock at the time but ironically spurred Toney on to have a fantastic career. Unfortunately for Nunn, the opposite would prove true. From then on in his downward spiral was nothing short of spectacular.

Bernard Hopkins vs Felix Trinidad

No pound for pound fighter ever went into a top class bout billed as underdog as many times as Bernard Hopkins.

Whether it was his prison back story and its essence of the hard knock life or whether it was his constant distrust of the press, somehow his face never really seemed to fit within the PR friendly fight media. Hopkins in fact was always the second favourite amongst boxing writers when it came to those big nights on the Vegas strip, when the very best in the divisions locked it down.

The executioner always conquered though. He went right between the goalposts virtually every single time in big fights and his match up with the legendary Felix Trinidad in 2001 was no exception. In the twelfth round of a fight Hopkins had completely dominated, he would produce a short, brutal right hand that had a seismic effect on the classy Trinidad, who was counted out in complete exhaustion. Hopkins had performed the type of 'clinic' he would become renowned for in future years, finally receiving the overdue credit his talent and deceiving punching power deserved.