Ranking the 10 Most Powerful Punchers in Boxing Today
Gennady Golovkin heads into his title defense against Daniel Geale this weekend riding a knockout streak of 16 straight. Even though he only fights at 160 pounds, "GGG" has to be viewed as one of the biggest punchers in the sport.
Still, overall this list is dominated by the heavyweights. Given the economics of the sport, most hard-punching fighters who weigh close to 200 pounds will chase the big bucks fighting the big boys.
The knockout is the boxing equivalent of the home run. And the fighters who can collect them have a fast track to stardom.
10. Andy Ruiz Jr.
Andy Ruiz Jr. isn't about to win any bodybuilding contests. But physical aesthetics doesn't really factor into boxing scoring.
And, more importantly, Ruiz can punch. The undefeated Mexican heavyweight has knocked out 16 of 22 and his last eight.
Ruiz has good head movement and lowers levels well. There is a dangerous efficiency to his punching, where he sets up to deliver some of his biggest shots off from the slip.
9. Lucas Browne
Lucas Browne is an undefeated Australian heavyweight who has knocked out 18 of 20 that he's faced. Browne is a heavyset, 6'4" brawler who generally comes to fight in the neighborhood of 260 pounds.
Browne is a classic, come-forward heavyweight. He looks like he's planning to win by knockout in every fight.
Browne fights fellow undefeated heavyweight Andriy Rudenko in the U.K. later this summer. Browne is not a fighter I view as a future champion, but his power should make him a threat to most contenders.
8. Curtis Stevens
Curtis Stevens is one of the few fighters on this list who is not a heavyweight. But the compact middleweight is an explosive puncher.
Stevens has knocked out 16 opponents in his career inside of the first two rounds. Many of those stoppages came at light heavyweight and even cruiserweight.
Stevens' knockout percentage might be better if his overall skill level was higher. But even when he's losing, his power keeps him within striking distance of victory, as Tureano Johnson found out against him last April.
7. Chris Arreola
Longtime heavyweight contender Chris Arreola has fought his way to near the top of the heavyweight division over the past decade, on the strength of an iron jaw and sledgehammer fists.
In his career, Arreola has earned 31 of his 35 victories by stoppage. Arreola has decent skill and it has contributed to his success. But at heart, he's a slugger.
The 6'3", heavyset Arreola knows he has the potential to win almost any fight if he can touch his opponent on the jaw.
6. Adonis Stevenson
In other eras, a light heavyweight banger like Adonis Stevenson would be viewed as a potential threat against the big boys. In today's era of heavyweights who routinely weigh 240 or more, Stevenson is probably too small.
Still, it's intriguing to think about what he might be able to do if a good strength and conditioning coach could help Stevenson get to 200 pounds or more without losing any speed. "Superman" has the kind of explosive power that has the potential to rock a man of any size.
For now, I'd like to see him fight fellow light heavyweight knockout machine Sergey Kovalev.
5. Sergey Kovalev
Like Adonis Stevenson, Sergey Kovalev is a light heavyweight who would have been viewed as a potential threat against the big men in earlier eras. Kovalev stands at 6'0", and he has always looked like an extremely big 175.
I could see him weighing 200 pounds and knocking out a good percentage of the heavyweight division. But he'd be too small to impose his style of the bigger stars of the weight class.
At 175, Kovalev has one-punch power. But he's also a methodical fighter who demolishes opponents over rounds with his heavy, thudding punches.
4. Gennady Golovkin
For me to rate Gennady Golovkin this highly here, I am calibrating slightly for weight class. Golovkin is fighting at 160 pounds, so he can't be viewed as standing on completely level terms with the heavyweights.
Still, GGG is coming into his fight this weekend with Daniel Geale having knocked out 16 straight. Time and again, his punches have made his opponents react in ways they have never reacted against anybody else.
It isn't normal to rate a middleweight puncher in the same conversation with the heavyweights. But, as HBO's Max Kellerman noted repeatedly during Golovkin's beatdown of Matthew Macklin, Macklin's reaction to Golovkin's power was "not normal."
3. Bermane Stiverne
Bermane Stiverne captured the vacant WBC heavyweight title last May when he stopped Chris Arreola. That alone indicates the power Stiverne brings into the ring, as Arreola had only previously been stopped by Vitali Klitschko, who retired with a KO percentage of 88 percent.
And whereas Arreola was stopped still on his feet after taking punishment for 10 rounds against Klitschko, Stiverne dropped him so quickly and violently that the referee waved off the count in Round 6.
Now that he's wearing the gold, I'd like to see Stiverne in a showdown with fellow big puncher Deontay Wilder.
2. Deontay Wilder
It's been 31 up and 31 down for Deontay Wilder in his professional career. He's not only knocked out every man he's faced, but none of them have made it past Round 4.
At this point it has become obvious that Deontay Wilder hits like a truck. His level of competition can be criticized, for certain, but his dangerous punching power cannot be denied.
At this point, Wilder is way overdue for a meaningful fight. He should be the No. 1 contender for Bermane Stiverne's WBC belt. The fight should already be signed and waiting to take place at the end of the year.
1. Wladimir Klitschko
Wladimir Klitschko might occasionally bore fans with his overly cautious, jab-clinch-lean style. But when the WBA, WBO, IBF and lineal heavyweight champion opens up with his offense, he remains the most dangerous puncher in the sport.
Klitschko hits with such power that even his jabs are legitimate weapons. They are more jolting than a lot of fighters' power shots.
Klitschko has ended fights in a hurry and has pounded away at opponents until they could no longer continue. For his career, his KO percentage is 80 percent.