Boxing Gloves Knockout

The Decade’s Best Knockouts

While boxing is often lauded as the ‘sweet science’; an intricate chess match of skill, strategy and precision, there are few sporting highlights as box office as a devastating knockout in the squared circle.

Throughout the history of boxing, there have been some astonishing back-and-forth 12-round slugfests, comebacks and all manner of incredible fight stories, but the knockouts are the moments that tend to live longest in the memory.

Over the years, we have been treated to some hellacious one-punch knockouts against all odds like Julian Jackson vs. Herol Graham. We’ve also seen some of the biggest stars in the sport being humbled by significant underdogs, Buster Douglas and Hasim Rahman springing instantly to mind.

There are plenty of upcoming boxing fights which will hopefully add some more to the list but, in no particular order, here are some of the best of the best.

Boxing knockouts of the last decade

Deontay Wilder vs. Artur Szpilka (January 2016)              

One of a few candidates from arguably the biggest one-punch knockout artist the world has seen in Deontay Wilder. What Wilder lacks in finesse and pure boxing skill, he more than makes up with a seemingly inhuman ability to generate power from a comparatively slender frame, and there are few better examples than his knockout of Szpilka. Following a relatively competitive nine rounds, the Pole tried to back Wilder into the corner, and while tying to land a winging left hook, was completely flattened by an unbelievable counter right hand. Wilder himself lauds this as his favourite ever knockout, and he has plenty to choose from.

 

Canelo Alvarez vs. Amir Khan (May 2016)

It’s only natural for perennial pound for pound contender Canelo to have a place on this list, and most Brits will likely be all too familiar with his knockout of Amir Khan. It was a significant step up in competition for Khan, billed as his moment to introduce himself on the biggest stage and had given a decent account of himself in the first five rounds. Canelo had started to assert himself more and more as the fight went on and in the sixth round, Khan lunged in for a punch, only to be met with a brutal overhand right, sending him to the deck where he remained motionless for several minutes. It was a tough one to watch.

 

Gennady Golovkin vs. Curtis Stevens (November 2013)

This knockout probably captured GGG at the peak of his significant powers. Stevens had entered the fight as one of Golovkin’s toughest opponents to date, a top ranked contender looking to take home the WBA and IBO middleweight titles. The challenger had his moments in the fight but had largely been outclassed and in the eighth round, Golovkin landed a thudding left hook to the temple. To his credit, Stevens somehow tried his best to scramble to his feet, only for the referee to correctly wave off the fight.

 

Zolani Tete vs. Siboniso Gonya (November 2017)

Possibly not the household names seen elsewhere in the list, Tete’s knockout of Gonya to retain the WBO bantamweight title is the fastest knockout in world title fight history. Just 11 seconds into the first round, South African Tete landed a devastating right hook, knocking Gonya out cold. It is second only to Phil Williams’ knockout of Brandon Burke at 10 seconds as the fastest ever professional knockouts, and to do it in a world championship fight was incredible.

 

Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez II (September 2017)

Another championship knockout, but very different circumstances. Ringvisai’s knockout of Chocolatito wasn’t the one punch thunderbolt found elsewhere on the list, but memorable for its significance. The Thai underdog had managed to defeat Cholocatito, the number 1 pound for pound fighter on the planet, on points in their first fight to take the WBC super flyweight title in what was a major shock. Chocolatito triggered the rematch just four months later, and was surprisingly defeated again in even more decisive fashion, this time by a right hook from the southpaw in the fourth round.

 

Andy Lee vs. John Jackson (June 2014)

Student of the late, great Emanuel Steward and second cousin to Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, Irishman Andy Lee is from a strong a boxing pedigree as you’re likely to find. Not surprising then to find him included in the list, and his knockout of John Jackson was a memorable moment for a number of reasons. Lee was on the comeback trail after suffering the first defeat of his career two years earlier against Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr, and had won four straight fights to face Jackson on the big stage at Madison Square Gardens. He didn’t get off to the best start, being knocked down for the first time in his career in the first round, and then losing the next three. In round five, Jackson was piling on the pressure, pushing Lee against the ropes and unloading. While ducking and weaving trying to survive, Lee somehow managed to turn the tables, finding and opening to unleash a right hand which sent Jackson facedown on the canvas.

 

Wladimir Klitschko vs. Kubrat Pulev (November 2014)

Undoubtedly one of the greats, but often Klitschko’s high profile title fights somewhat flattered to deceive in terms of entertainment, but his knockout of Pulev was not one of them. Pulev did what many others before him hadn’t done and really took it to Klitschko from the opening bell. Unfortunately for the Bulgarian, it left him open to a left hook from the champion, sending him down in the first round. Pulev got up, stood on one leg and started sticking his tongue out to taunt Klitschko, only to be floored again just moments later. He made it through the round but was knocked down again in the third, finally succumbing to yet another crashing left hook in the fifth round to end the fight.

 

Naoya Inoue vs. Juan Carlos Payano (October 2018)

Heading into the World Boxing Super Series quarter final, Inoue was the number 2 bantamweight seed and WBA title holder. In front of his home crowd in Japan, the fight was by no means a given, going up against a former world champion in Payano who had previously only lost one professional fight and had never been knocked out. Despite the task ahead, Inoue lived up to his moniker of ‘The Monster’ dispatching Payano in little over a minute with a straight left followed by a right hook combination. This stunning knockout set Inoue on his way to winning the super bantamweight belt against Nonito Donaire, adding the IBF and The Ring along the way.

 

Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis vs. Leo Santa Cruz (October 2020)

Initially, under the tutelage of Floyd Mayweather, Tank has become one of boxing’s brightest stars and his knockout of Santa Cruz was certainly one of the moments that saw his star power soar. Tank is a standout fighter at both featherweight and lightweight for his almost freakish power generation compared to other fighters of his size, and this knockout one of the cleanest uppercut finishes you’re ever likely to see. It had been a lively encounter, with Santa Cruz taking the fight to Davis and both fighters had their moments in throwing and landing electric combinations. From the start, however, Santa Cruz looked vulnerable when he stayed in the pocket with Tank, and that was ultimately his downfall. In the sixth round, Davis had managed to cut him off into the corner and landed an inch perfect counter left uppercut to snap Santa Cruz’s head back and face first to the canvas.

 

Alexander Povetkin vs. Dillian Whyte (August 2020)

With the UK emerging from lockdown and starved of sporting entertainment, Matchroom Sports held an inaugural event at their Headquarters (Eddie Hearn’s garden) with no fans in attendance. Headlined by UK top heavyweight Dillian Whyte against the dangerous Povetkin, it was all set up for a Whyte victory and a rip-roaring return for British boxing. That’s not how things panned out though. Whyte began well, comfortably controlling the first three rounds, then flooring Povetkin twice in the fourth. It looked like a relative formality for Whyte at this stage, but Povetkin well and truly spoilt the party with an uppercut from Hell out of absolutely nowhere, leaving Whyte flat on his back and a somewhat eerie silence around the fanless Matchroom HQ.

Deontay Wilder v Luis Ortiz ended in one of the best boxing knockouts of the decade

Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz II (November 2019)

Wilder’s second appearance on the list, and this is one which encapsulates everything about Wilder in one fight. It was a rematch and their first fight had seen Ortiz show some good moments and promise, but simply couldn’t deal with Wilder’s wild and albeit unorthodox power shots and was finished in the 10th. You might have been forgiven for expecting much of the same in the rematch, but Ortiz learnt from some of Wilder’s tendencies and boxed brilliantly second time round, going into the seventh round ahead on all of the judge’s scorecards. That was, until Wilder landed a bomb of a straight right hand directly into the middle of Ortiz’s forehead, sending him to the floor in a heap and looking completely baffled. The great Teddy Atlas has referred to Wilder’s right hand as the ‘Great Equaliser’, and this was a case in point of exactly that.

 

Carl Froch vs. George Groves 2 (May 2014)

It’s become a meme-worthy for boxing fans to tease Carl Froch for regularly talking about this fight, but I reckon if most of us had done what he did we’d probably rattle on about it a bit too. It was the immediate rematch after a disappointing end to the rivals’ first fight, with many fans feeling like the referee called an early stoppage in awarding Froch a TKO victory. As Froch himself would say, “in front of 80,000 people at Wembley Stadium”, it was unmistakably a landmark event for British boxing and Froch left no doubts second time round, with an 8th round box office left right combination to send Groves crumpled under the ropes and retain his WBA and IBF super-middleweight titles.

 

Maris Briedis vs. Manuel Charr (August 2015)

Considerably outweighed, overlooked and under-fancied, to say Briedis’ sensational boxing knockout of former WBC heavyweight contender Charr came as a surprise is an understatement. Despite being undefeated, the Latvian was pretty unheralded prior to this fight, largely due to giving up a 3-inch height and over 30lbs weight advantage, but that matter little when in the fifth round, Charr rather overenthusiastically chased Breidis into the corner, only to be dropped with a perfectly timed upper cut to send the big German face down into the ropes.

 

Gabriel Rosado vs. Bektemir Melikuziev (June 2021)

Rosado went into this fight as an experienced journeyman, going up against an undefeated and highly touted prospect. There didn’t seem like many avenues for a victory, and even less so after being comfortably dominated for the first two rounds. In the third, Rosado threw a counter hook that caught Melikuziev flush on the chin, sending him crashing to the canvas. While he beat the count, Rosado immediately swarmed him after the restart and the fight was waved off, sending the American home with both the WBA Continental Americas super-middleweight and WBO International super-middleweight titles.

 

Andy Ruiz vs. Anthony Joshua (June 2019)

This was to be Joshua’s high-profile and eagerly anticipated debut on American soil at Madison Square Garden. The event got off to a contentious start, with Joshua’s original opponent Jarrell Miller being flagged for an anti-doping violation just two months out from the fight, and Mexican slugger Ruiz stepped in late notice to face Joshua for the unified heavyweight titles. Many fight fans still saw a convincing victory for the Brit, rumours of issues in the Joshua camp during the build-up, and a feeling he might be overlooking the dangers posed by Ruiz, there was a feeling amongst some boxing circles that this was a potential banana skin for the champion. Joshua started the fight well and eventually dropped Ruiz in round three, in what looked to be the start of a routine victory. In his eagerness to follow up and finish the fight, Joshua was caught and dropped by Ruiz in a melee leaving Joshua unsteady on his legs for the remainder of the round. The momentum had completely turned on his head and Ruiz floored Joshua three more times before the referee waved off the fight in the seventh round and provide a huge setback in Joshua’s career.

 

For more great boxing Knockouts check out our article on the best K.O.s in the world of female boxing.