Boxing fans love power. More than anything else, we appreciate the massive one-punch KO and we are drawn to the knockout artist like moths to a flame.
There are plenty of popular and exciting fighters who cannot end a fight with one shot, but there is a certain electricity in the air when a dynamic puncher is in the ring. The knockout is an event entirely unique to boxing (and, more recently, other combat sports).
If any other event ends early, it is usually a disappointment, because something unforeseen happened to postpone the game. When a boxing match ends early, it means that fireworks went off.
So without further ado, let me present to you the five most explosive punchers in the sport right now.
Fernando Montiel made headlines this year by being on the receiving end of one of the most vicious knockouts ever seen. But sleep on his power at your own peril. He has dished out his fair share of KO's in his time.
Record: 45-3 (KO 35, 70%)
Popcorn Moment: After being outboxed for almost four rounds, Montiel landed a sledgehammer left hook on the side of Hozumi Hasegawa's head. Hasegawa stumbled into the ropes, where Montiel quickly finished the job.
Lucian Bute is the OTHER super-middleweight, the one not fighting in Showtime's Super-Six Tournament. But he might be the best of the lot (and a fight with the winner of the upcoming finale will go a long way towards settling that).
He has gained notoriety in the boxing world for his savage body punching and heavy uppercuts.
Record: 29-0 (KO 24, 82.8%)
Popcorn Moment: When Bute clipped Edison Miranda with a punch and Miranda stuck out his chin like he was Ricardo Mayorga, my heart skipped a beat.
I could see Bute firing the punch, almost in slow motion, and I could already feel the word "badass" forming on my lips. Then, the punch landed and Miranda went out like a light. Don't test a puncher.
Sergio Martinez, southpaw middleweight champion and third-best fighter in the world, is everything a champion should be. He is fast, tough, brave and extremely powerful. What is odd about Martinez is that he seems to have gained power moving up in weight.
He was always regarded as a fast fighter without much pop...until he started knocking out bigger men left and right. His right hook and straight left make a fearsome tandem of punches, keeping the orthodox fighter in front of him long enough to land the dynamite punch.
Record: 47-2-2 (KO 26, 51%)
Popcorn Moment: Combine a leaky defense with a flimsy chin and sprinkle in Sergio Martinez's pulverizing overhand left and you have the 2010 knockout of the year over Paul Williams. Timber!
Say what you want about his mentality. It is true, Wlad does not have the most crowd-pleasing style. But his hands are like bolts of lightning, striking down almost every opponent he has ever faced. He combines a pile driver jab with a left hook and a right hand almost to the exclusion of all else and it pays off.
But he is more of a thinking man's fighter and instead of wildly letting shots go, he instead chooses to set them up with the jab and rely on his superior height and size to frustrate opponents into making a mistake...and opening themselves up to his real artillery.
Record: 56-3 (49 KO, 83%)
Popcorn Moment: Everyone knew that Wlad was talented, but his fight with Ray Mercer showed just how talented and powerful he really was. There is no one-punch KO here, as Mercer is FAR too tough for that, but it is worth sitting back and enjoying this one just to see the force that Wlad can be.
There is only one fighter who could be here at the top of this list. Donaire has shown power on a level that we may have never seen before at the bantamweight division. He has drop dead KO's over two truly elite fighters and that is no easy task.
Donaire has steadily been making his way up from Flyweight, we will see how far he can walk in Filipino countryman Manny Pacquiao's weight climbing shoes. Given his stature, technique and superlative natural gifts, I expect that to be very far.
Record: 26-1 (KO 18, 67%)
Popcorn Moment: There have been MANY moments in Nonito Donaire's career when it has been hard to keep composed and not start dreaming about him someday achieving legendary status alongside the greats like Zarrate and Olivares.
But his knockout over Fernando Montiel may take that cake and everyone else's cake who has come before and since. That was hands-down the most brutal knockdown punch I have ever seen. The post-fight photo showing the dent in Montiel's face is enough evidence for me.