Ranking the 10 Most Destructive Punches in Boxing Today

Briggs Seekins@BriggsfighttalkFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2014

Ranking the 10 Most Destructive Punches in Boxing Today

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The one-punch knockout is the most exciting moment in sports. It's the boxing equivalent of the walk-off home run or the Hail Mary touchdown pass.

    But unlike in football and baseball, the coup d'etat can come at any time in boxing. That's why big punchers traditionally draw big crowds.

    A serious knockout artist's individual punches can become famous in their own right. Rocky Marciano's big right hand was nicknamed Suzie Q. Joe Frazier's explosive left hook was iconic.

    The following are the 10 most destructive punches in boxing right now. 

10. Nonito Donaire's Left Hook

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    You could argue that Nonito Donaire was overrated prior to his loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux in April 2013. You could argue that he's no longer as sharp as he was earlier in his career. 

    But there's no denying that he is still a dangerous puncher. And the left hook remains his execution punch. 

    Donaire is a natural southpaw who fights in the orthodox stance, which places his power hand in the lead position. He is a quick, brutal counterpuncher. The counter hook he landed on Fernando Montiel in the video included here is one of the most famous of this century. 

    Donaire faces undefeated knockout artist Nicholas Walters in October. There's a good chance that fight won't make it the distance.

9. Miguel Cotto's Left Hook to the Body

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    Miguel Cotto's destruction of Sergio Martinez to capture the lineal middleweight title last June was the boxing story of the year so far. And a major factor in Cotto's comeback has been the return of his dangerous left hook. 

    Cotto's ability to hammer an opponent's body allows him to hamper movement and control the terrain of the fight. He breaks opponents down while setting up the attacks upstairs. 

    Cotto's use of the left hook to the body made him a triumphant ring general against Martinez and the first four-division world champion ever from boxing-rich Puerto Rico.

8. Juan Manuel Marquez's Counter Right

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    Counterpunching is traditionally thought of as defensive in nature. But a great ring general like Juan Manuel Marquez can control the tempo of the fight and mix in his own aggression to make it a dangerous weapon. 

    Marquez's counter right has played a large part in helping him compile 40 career knockouts. Not one of them has been bigger than the one-punch stoppage of Manny Pacquiao that is included here.

    This was the fourth fight between Marquez and Pacquiao. They had faced each other in nearly 42 full rounds by the time Marquez landed this shot.

    That's a lot of time for a brilliant counterpuncher like Marquez to set up his shot.

7. Roman Gonzalez's Right Uppercut

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    Roman Gonzalez has been a dominant, undefeated world champion across two divisions now, and on the first weekend of September he will go for a third title when he faces flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi of Japan. So far in his career, he's knocked out 33 of 39 opponents. 

    Gonzalez is a brilliant combination puncher who staggers opponents with either hand. He doubles up his lead hook to the body and head as well as nearly anybody in the sport. 

    But I think it's his right uppercut that makes him particularly dangerous. Not surprisingly for a fighter of such short stature, the 5'3" Gonzalez generates a tremendous amount of power from below.

6. Adonis Stevenson's Straight Right

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    Adonis Stevenson lost some momentum earlier this year when he jumped from HBO to Showtime, making a highly anticipated light heavyweight unification bout with Sergey Kovalev nearly impossible to arrange. Now that 49-year-old Bernard Hopkins has gone out of his way to schedule a fight with Kovalev, the perception that Stevenson is a "ducker" is heightened.

    Still, Stevenson's Round 1 KO of Chad Dawson to capture the WBC light heavyweight title last year was arguably the most devastating single knockout of 2013. For the year, he went 4-0 with four KOs.

    So the resentment fans feel toward Stevenson for not fighting Kovalev is merely a natural result of the enthusiasm they felt anticipating the fight. Stevenson's straight right is an explosive, crowd-electrifying punch.

    With that kind of weapon in his arsenal, Stevenson should be able to regain all his lost momentum.

5. Bermane Stiverne's Overhand Counter Right

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    Chris Arreola is no world-beater. But he is a rugged heavyweight contender with a chin like a slab of granite. Prior to fighting Bermane Stiverne for the vacant WBC heavyweight belt last May, Arreola had been stopped just once, by the fearsome Vitali Klitschko.

    And that had been a TKO when Arreola was forced to retire in his corner. In his first fight against Stiverne in April 2013, Arreola had his nose smashed and suffered tremendous punishment while continuing to come forward.

    In the May rematch, Arreola started strong. It was obvious he'd prepared as well as he could for his second shot at a world title. He led throughout the first half of the fight.

    But in Round 6, Stiverne saw the opening he'd been looking for and dropped a monster, looping right-hand counter over the top of Arreola's slowly returning jab and flooring Arreola. Although Arreola beat the count, Stiverne easily dropped him a second time, causing the referee to wave off the fight.

    It took a brutal punch to completely scramble Arreola, and Stiverne set it up perfectly. It was a demonstration of skill and explosive power that should have every heavyweight in the world paying attention. 

4. Gennady Golovkin's Overhand Right

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    Every punch Gennady Golovkin throws is dangerous. His opponents' heads snap back when he touches them with his jab. Their bodies crumple up like cardboard when he digs into their bodies with a lead hook or short uppercut.

    He has ended fights with both hands, thrown from every angle, and to both the head and body. There's a reason the undefeated WBA middleweight champion has knocked out 27 of 30 opponents and 17 straight.

    But his overhand right is particularly brutal. He throws it from the outside and brings every ounce of his remarkable power with it when it lands.

    In his last fight, he used it to knock out former world champion Daniel Geale, even as Geale was landing his own flush shot on GGG. The Kazakhstan destroyer used the punch to knock Nobuhiro Ishida right out of the ring. 

3. Sergey Kovalev's Straight Right

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    Picking just one punch to single out for Sergey Kovalev is a bit of a trick question. All of the WBO light heavyweight champion's punches are destructive.

    He knocked out Cedric Agnew with a jab to the body.

    But the Russian's most destructive punch is the straight right. Once he has an opponent in danger, it's like he's setting up a battering ram to knock him down.

    His final blow to Ismayl Sillah is one of the scariest punches I've ever seen thrown.

2. Deontay Wilder's Straight Right

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    Deontay Wilder has knocked out his first 31 opponents, with none of them making it past the fourth round. Any heavyweight who puts up that kind of record attracts huge fan interest. 

    Wilder is a great natural athlete and a born puncher. You can't develop power like he has in the gym. 

    The 6'7" Wilder has an 84" wing span, which he uses to generate incredible torque on his straight right. The punch is like a cannonball coming straight down the middle.

    Wilder's looping overhand right is a brain-rattler as well, but opponents have a bit of time to see it coming and react. The straight cross is a fluid punch that arrives in a hurry. 

    Fans have grown impatient waiting for Wilder to take a step up in class. He should finally make the jump when he faces WBC champion Bermane Stiverne later this year. 

    I am not convinced a heavyweight with Wilder's thin torso and legs is going to be able to handle a strong, explosive heavyweight such as Stiverne. But there is no question the Bronze Bomber's power makes him a serious threat to win the belt.

1. Wladimir Klitschko's Steelhammer Right Hand

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    Wladimir Klitschko's jab is one of the best in the history of the division. You'd have to go back to at least Larry Holmes to find a heavyweight champ who could jab like the Ukrainian.

    For most fighters the jab is a range-finder and setup punch, but for Klitschko, it's a weapon. It lands on opponents with the force of a battering ram, jarring their skulls.  

    Klitschko has a neat trick of altering the jab at the last second and turning it into a long-range hook. It's a cutting, scythe-like blow.

    But the punch that earned the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion his nickname of Dr. Steelhammer is the devastating straight right. It's an aesthetically perfect punch. Klitschko's technical precision allows him to get his entire 6'6" frame behind the blow.

    Even after all these years, it's a punch that still has to be regarded as the most destructive in the sport. 


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