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Ranking the 10 Most Incredible Knockouts in Boxing History

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2013

Ranking the 10 Most Incredible Knockouts in Boxing History

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    Boxing is called the sweet science. And there are many fans who will watch, simply to see two master craftsmen engage in a chess match.

    But that isn't what this is about. We're talking knockouts here. They are what makes the sport of boxing so dramatic, so unique. 

    Boxing is the only sport where you can lose literally every second of every round and still find a way to hit that 10-run home run in the final seconds and win. It's the only place where a massive underdog can land that lottery punch that changes the course of the sport.

    There have been literally thousands of incredible knockouts in boxing history and this list doesn't seek to cover all of them. It's a springboard for discussion, debate and argument. Feel free to add your own favorites from the spectacular to the improbable.

    These are the 10 most incredible knockouts in boxing history.

10. Samuel Peter KO 2 Jeremy Williams

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    When Samuel Peter burst on the heavyweight scene with 18 KO's in his first 20 fights, many felt that the "Nigerian Nightmare" could be the next big thing in boxing's glamour division.

    While it never quite panned out that way, Peter was known for some of the spectacular knockouts he was able to lay on his opponents. 

    In 2004 he locked horns with fringe heavyweight contender Jeremy Williams with the NABF title at stake.

    After a relatively uneventful first round, Peter came out swinging for the fences in the second, and when Williams attempted to spin off the ropes, he got caught with an earth-shattering left hand that ended the fight on the spot.

    It took him several minutes to get back to his feet, and he only fought twice more after that, each coming after long hiatuses from the ring.

9. Thomas Hearns KO 2 Roberto Duran

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    What an era of fighters and fighting. Nowadays fans complain about the biggest stars in the sport not fighting each other. But back when we had guys like Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler, they all fought one another.

    Hearns and Duran met at 154 pounds, where they both held titles, in 1984. Duran was known as a swarming, high-activity fighter who had great punching power. Hearns, on the other hand, was the prototypical boxer-puncher, with great power in both hands.

    Their fight only lasted two rounds, but it was a dynamite ending. Words don't do justice to the huge power Hearns exhibited in this fight, dropping Duran flat on his face to win the fight.

8. Julian Jackson KO 4 Herol Graham

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    Did you ever wonder what it looks like to see a fighter knocked unconscious before he hits the mat? 

    Julian "The Hawk" Jackson is considered, to this day, to be one of the biggest punchers in the history of boxing. In 1990, he matched up with former British and European middleweight champion Herol Graham with the vacant WBC middleweight title on the line.

    Heading into the fourth round, Graham was putting on a boxing lesson. But, you can never sleep on a puncher like Jackson. And yes, the pun was intended.

    As Jackson was backing into the ropes, he unleashed a missile right hand, the kind of punch that would stop a truck, that landed flush on Graham's jaw. His body went rigid, unconscious, and he fell to the mat as stiff as a board. 

    Truly scary stuff. 

7. Sergio Martinez KO 2 Paul Williams

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    Every now and then, one of those punches lands that has the sound of a car crash, and makes you legitimately hope the other guy gets up in one piece.

    Sergio Martinez had dropped his first bout against Paul Williams, via a heavily disputed majority decision, and he was determined to let no such thing happen in the rematch.

    With just over a minute gone in round two, Martinez connected with a left hand that landed with one of the more sickening thuds you'll hear inside a boxing ring. Williams crumpled to the mat in such a lifeless and disturbing manner, that everyone watching had to hold their breath in the hopes he would be okay.

    To everyone who says Sergio Martinez can't punch, watch this fight. Don't worry, it won't take more than a few minutes.

6. Antonio Taver KO 2 Roy Jones Jr.

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    Y'all must've forgot how good Roy Jones Jr. was in his prime. He's become something of a sideshow now, ironically traveling the world in search of fights (something he refused to do at his peak), and he seems to be the only one who doesn't know it's over. 

    But that much wasn't clear when he fought Antonio Tarver in a 2004 rematch of their razor-close fight six months earlier. 

    Up to that point Jones, the sport's pound-for-pound king, had only suffered one defeat (by disqualification) and had dominated the light heavyweight division for years. But Tarver gave him fits in their first contest, something Jones attributed to having to lose weight after a successful challenge for a share of the heavyweight title. 

    The rematch didn't last nearly as long, but was just as shocking. For a fighter who had rarely been challenged, and never hurt, Jones ate a shocking left hand that sent him down and out for the first time. It was his first, but not last legitimate loss.

5. George Foreman KO 10 Michael Moorer

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    For the first nine rounds, it appeared as if George Foreman's attempt to become the oldest man to ever win a heavyweight title would end in failure. Michael Moorer was just too fast, too slick and too good for the plodding 45-year-old former champion. 

    But then in the famous words of Jim Lampley: "It happened."

    Foreman, even in his later days as a fighter, was still known as a guy with huge punching power, and Michael Moorer found that out first-hand in the 10th round. With a little over a minute remaining in the round, Foreman connected on a clubbing straight hand that sent Moorer sprawling to the canvas.

    He couldn't beat the count and that made Foreman the oldest man to win a heavyweight championship.

4. Juan Manuel Marquez KO 6 Manny Pacquiao

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    Before they locked horns for the fourth time this past Dec. 9, Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao had already engaged in 36 rounds of boxing, with the majority having no clear winner.

    Most fans expected the same type of fight, with Pacquiao coming forward trying to attack, and Marquez content to time him and counterpunch.

    Boy, did they miss the mark. Both men came out of the gate trying to make a statement, and both touched the canvas before the night was over.

    By the sixth round it appeared the fight was trending towards Pacquiao. He had his man hurt, with a broken nose gushing blood, and like a shark went in for the kill. And that's when it happened.

    In the literal closing second of round six, Marquez landed a right hand for the ages that dropped Pacquiao, knocked him unconscious and finally gave him the victory he chased for so many years.

3. Mike Tyson KO 1 Michael Spinks

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    Can you imagine being one of the poor people who paid for this fight on pay-per-view, only to get up from their couch to get a drink, and return to find the fight over?

    Michael Spinks shocked the boxing world when he gave up his undisputed crown at light heavyweight in order to campaign two divisions north at heavyweight. But he made an immediate impression, upsetting previously undefeated Larry Holmes to capture the IBF heavyweight title in the 1985 upset of the year. 

    He would also defeat Holmes in a rematch and set himself on a collision course with the undefeated, unified champion Mike Tyson. 

    Spinks (31-0, 21 KO) and Tyson (34-0, 30 KO) matched up in 1988 for one of the most hyped heavyweight title fights in history. But that's all it was—hype. 

    Tyson blitzed Spinks and dropped him twice in the opening minute and a half. Spinks was unable to beat the count after the second knockdown and the end came just 91 seconds into the superfight. 

2. Julio Cesar Chavez TKO 12 Meldrick Taylor

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    Julio Cesar Chavez entered his 1990 bout with Meldrick Taylor on a 68-fight winning streak to begin his professional career, but he needed to pull a rabbit out of his hat to win No. 69.

    Entering the 12th and final round, Chavez desperately needed a knockout to avoid his first loss. As we know now, Taylor had sizable leads of 107-102, and 108-101 on two of the three judges' scorecards. All he needed to do in order to win was hear the final bell.

    But in the closing seconds, Chavez dropped Taylor to the mat with a massive right hand. Taylor rose to his feet by the count of six but was unresponsive when referee Richard Steele talked to him in the corner. 

    With just two seconds remaining in the fight, almost literally at the last second, Steele stopped the fight, giving Chavez one of the most controversial and incredible knockout victories in boxing history.

1. Buster Douglas KO 10 Mike Tyson

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    Biggest upset in boxing history? You can certainly make the case for it.

    Mike Tyson entered the Tokyo Dome as the undisputed heavyweight champion, with 37 victories, and devastating knockout power. His opponent, James "Buster" Douglas, was a fringe contender, who had been knocked out by Tony Tucker in his only other chance at a world title.

    Just three weeks before the fight, Douglas mother passed away, and he contracted the flu. He entered the fight a 42-1 underdog and scored what is considered by many to be the biggest upset in boxing.

    From the outset, it was clear Douglas would not be intimidated. He utilized a quick jab to keep Tyson outside, and did not shy from opportunities to let his hands go, a possibly lethal choice.

    He was dropped to the mat in the eighth round, but he beat what some felt was a slow count, and the came in the 10th to shock the world. It was Tyson's first defeat, and he was never the same fighter again.

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