I wonder if the one-punch knockout is what seduced most boxing fans at the outset and they learned to appreciate the rest.
The one-punch knockout has immense drama closing out a fight before it's started (Tyson's mystique was built on this). Sometimes, as with Gatti's career and George Foreman's stunning knockout of Michael Moorer, the punch arrives to save a fighter from a sure loss and turns everything around. Other times a fighter claims a fight courtesy of a split-second punch at the last second. There are any number of other variations.
The one-punch knockout is the great equalizer. Even when the fight isn't decided by that lethal punch, it can still be the abiding image all the same (Ali vs. Frazier I).
There's quite a spectrum of these blows to choose from, but we've got a pretty fair cross section of eras included. I haven't placed them in any special order, however the greatest fighter who ever lived has his offering saved for last.
Tyson's career was built on early KOs and one-punch ferocious power. There are the usual clips you see again and again rehashing his explosiveness. Deservedly so. The man could punch and his hands were as fast as any heavyweight who ever lived.
What people often miss and fail to mention is how fast his feet were. This, more than anything else, separates the Tyson of greatness and the version that followed him after his dedication waned.
It's his foot speed and phenomenal balance that really deserve the credit for most of his knockouts as much as the power. To launch into a fresh position and have enough leverage to explode a combination is what truly accounts for how incredibly often he put opponents on their backs. Have a look at his knockouts after Spinks. They don't quite look the same, do they? Few come off combinations.
All that being said, there's just something about his hook against the cartoonish Tony Tubbs that always comes to mind when I think about the young Tyson on his way up. Also Tyson's follow-through nearly falling out of the ring has a certain something about it that reinforces just what a spectacle he was back then.
While Lennox Lewis is, to my mind, the most under-appreciated champion who ever lived, Holmes is way up there. Make no mistake about it, Holmes was a very, very special fighter with tools that would've given any heavyweight who ever lived trouble.
What this clip illustrates is perhaps the most neglected part of his game: his chin and heart.
I'd say the resulting impact from Shavers' right hand roughly measures up to any of the punishment Douglas dished out to drop Tyson. The difference is Holmes shoots up after taking it. It speaks to the heart of a lion.
Not only that. Holmes came back and won the fight!
The man was born in a lousy era. It's a shame.
Morrison was as one-dimensional as you get as a heavyweight. He was like a ballplayer who can only hit fastballs and not much else.
The finish of one of his fights was as predictable as any first-tier wrestler with their signature finishing move.
Morrison had his juiced-up left hook and, when it could land, few opponents remained upright.
During the slugfest Morrison and Ruddock had, both fighters were dropped and at constant risk of being knocked out cold. While Ruddock swung for the fences, Morrison scored with his own massive shot and it was goodnight.
With all of Duran's pride, iron will and ferocious spirit, anyone standing across from him inside a ring knew the only way to make him quit (other than that cheap stuff Leonard pulled) was to poison him before a fight. Even then...
Hearns scores one of the most dramatic knockouts in history because of everything we know about Duran and how great his legacy already was when these two legends squared off.
Full credit to Hearns, heartbreaking for Roberto...
Fernando Vargas was everything most casual boxing fans want out of a fighter: as exciting in victory as he was in defeat. Vargas gave everything he had and prided himself on it.
The tremendous willpower and self-determination Vargas put on display came at a price; it meant he sustained some savage beatings from superior boxers.
Felix Trinidad vs. Fernando Vargas is an electrifying fight. While Trinidad dominates, Vargas steps up his intensity. This is a rare thing to see in a boxing match. Trinidad, in turn, steps up his own intensity and pours it on toward the finish.
Every knockout Tito scores offers the extreme contrasts of sadness and excitement: Tito jumps atop a corner to share his joy with his legion of fans while Vargas picks up the pieces and gathers himself to put forth one last attempt of overcoming long odds.
Mayorga's career was a special one and illustrated more colorfully than most the old boxing cliche of styles making fights. Mayorga had Vernon Forest's number despite Forrest being a far superior boxer. A Buick doesn't all that often beat a Porsche in a race (especially one that prides himself on his tobacco consumption).
Mayorga always struck me as a poor man's Duran (which is to say, naturally, I adored him). However many of Mayorga's antics were cultivated to sell tickets or intimidate opponents, he was a gifted performer with a great deal of personality he imposed on the buildup and execution of fights. Whether he succeeded or failed, you loved or hated him, Mayorga made you care about him.
After what Mayorga pulled off with Forrest, you just always thought he had a chance against anyone he faced based on his tenacity. Going into his match against Shane Mosely, he'd obviously fared far better against Forrest than Mosley had, however Mosley's style proved too much for Mayorga.
Mosley's left hook to finish the contest was picture perfect.
Many fans and experts alike still point to the buildup of Frazier and Ali's first fight as the biggest in sports history. I'm inclined to lean a little more toward Louis vs. Schmeling.
That being said, Ali-Frazier is about as big as it gets for drama. Both fighters undefeated. All the mean-spirited (and grossly unfair) racial stuff Ali had thrown in against Frazier leading up to the fight. Ali's skills being a little eroded from the layoff. Frazier looking to prove beyond all doubt he's the best in the game.
The one-punch knockout in the fight may be the most dramatic shot ever landed in boxing. It showed everything that both fighters were made of. Of the trilogy, this is the only knockdown that ever occurred. It's a spectacular shot in its own right. But how Ali responded to this punch also changes him forever in the minds of those who know everything that came before.
Ali had made his share of enemies along the way, and they never had a chance to cheer more than when Ali's so-called "white man's champion" put out the lights. After taking a jaw-shattering shot he jumped up. We saw what Ali, behind all the talk, was really made of. It pointed the way to everything we'd see ahead, good and bad. Despite the mind games Ali played, nobody had more heart or guts than Ali.
As it should be, nobody personified the will to be the greatest more than The Greatest.
This is one of those rare knockdowns that I can't watch without feeling a little emotional. I think, as much as any other moment in time, this moment defined both fighters forever perhaps more than any other.
Apart from this being one of the most beautifully captured moments in boxing ever put to film, it also demonstrates just how viciously devastating Rocky's "Suzy-Q" truly was.
Marciano is technically such a vulgar, basic fighter and yet this other side of what he brings to each fight is so completely magnificent. It's that combination more than anything else that seems responsible for capturing the imagination of so many fans.
Here's this little guy (5'10" and hovering around 190!) who just fought his heart out every second of every minute he ever fought.
Marciano brings a romance to boxing that few fighters, if any, captured after him. I can't put my finger on what it is about him that achieves it, but it's there. Raging Bull seems like ripped-off wholesale from the same energy Marciano generates. It's magic.
Jersey Joe Walcott unleashes one the most alarmingly vicious uppercuts in heavyweight history against Charles. Lights out.
Few punches create that car-crash-you-can't-look-away-from quality as definitively as a well-placed, unseen uppercut. I don't know of too many that measure up to this one.
While Lewis avenged both his one-punch KO losses to Rahman and Oliver McCall, it's hard to get them out of our mind.
What they also achieve, if anyone would bother to take measure, is that Lewis must have had a pretty decent chin to have only had these two shots really stop him. Lewis, let's not forget, fought a helluva lot of punchers over the course of his career.
It seems as if Lewis only missed seeing two punches in his career. The trouble is both of them knocked him on his behind.
Here's Rahman's offering...
The shot of excellence in boxing demonstrates how precision with a body shot uncovers the button down there as surely as the one located on the tip of a fighter's chin.
Roy Jones Jr. wowed the sport when he cracked a rib and dropped Virgil Hill for keeps with this mesmerizing shot. From the moment the sickening sound reverberated after the punch struck, you knew this contest was over.
Manny Pacquiao's one-punch KO of Hatton might be the greatest punch he ever landed in his life. That's obviously saying something. Hatton seems to go limp just by the force of displaced air off Pacquiao's punch.
After the fight it felt kind of easy to see how someone like Hatton was tailor-made for Pacquiao scoring a career-defining KO against him. At the time it happened, nothing outside of a slugfest with Floyd Mayweather could have propelled Pacquiao's star to greater heights.
I don't know what it is about this fight but I've always found it one of the most satisfying boxing matches to watch, despite how many times I've seen it.
Gerry Cooney seems straight out of Punch-Out, a giant cartoonish character ripe for the cartoonish beating George Foreman lays on him.
The last punch Foreman lands to finish the fight off just has that little extra to it that seemed an extension of Foreman's reputation as one of the biggest punchers of all time.
Jones Jr.'s unblemished record was forever damaged by his first match against Montell Griffin in their previous match via a controversial DQ.
Jones seemed to have more motivation to make a statement with this fight than perhaps any other boxing match he participated in.
Everything about this one-punch KO underlines the peerless athleticism.
People throw around the name Sugar Ray Robinson a lot as the greatest whoever fought, the 20th century's best (as he was voted by the Associated Press), but many have no idea about his accomplishments. Sadly, many of his best fights were never filmed.
For starters, the term "pound for pound" was invented by sports writers to deal with Robinson in order to compare him with bigger fighters.
Robinson amassed an 85-0 record as an amateur, with 69 victories coming by way of knockout. Forty of his knockouts came in the first round.
After Robinson turned professional in 1940 at the age of 19, within 11 years his record stood at the unbelievable 128-1-2 with 84 knockouts.
The clip offers a glimpse into all the things that had even "The Greatest" having no qualms about admitting Sugar Ray Robinson was better.