Some fans tune into boxing to see a chess match between two skilful athletes, with one fighter jabbing at their opponent in one breath, before dodging a hook the next. But if it’s one moment that can end that chess match in spectacular style, it’s the part of the fight that’s more anticipated and exciting than any other. We’re talking here, of course, about the knockout.
We’ve seen some truly devastating knockouts over the years in our sports betting category, and oftentimes when we look back at some of the greatest fights in the history of boxing, it’s that one final blow that defines the contest. One fighter might be way ahead on points, but if his opponent aims a ferocious blow that sees him crash to the canvas, it’s all over.
Let’s look at some of the most famous and iconic knockouts in history. With a list such as this, it almost impossible to be definitive, and you will likely be wondering why some of your favourite knockouts have been left out. But that’s what’s beautiful about the sport. It’s all subjective. Still, here’s our list anyway.
7. Julian Jackson vs Herol Graham – 1990
It wasn’t easy to decide which Julian Jackson knockout to include here, as there were a handful in contention. When it came down to it, however, there was one that stood out above the rest. That was when The Hawk knocked out Herol “Bomber” Graham in 1990, highlighting the ability of Jackson to turn around an entire fight with just one mighty punch. Graham was winning on points, frustrating Jackson throughout the fight. But in the fourth round, one of boxing’s greatest-ever knockout artists landed a right hook on his opponent to produce a video-game style punch that ended the fight.
6. Antonio Tarver KO 2 Roy Jones Jr. in Round 2 – 2004
Roy Jones Jr had been regarded as the world’s best pound-for-fighter for some years, and it seemed that he was unbeatable. He also had style. He would hold a mic and rap while making his way to the ring before seeing off his opponent by way of knockout. Then he would continue rapping while walking away in victory. As it was almost impossible to see him losing, it was even more unlikely to imagine that he would-be knocked out. There had been no-one who came close to touching Jones until he came face-to-face with “The Magic Man”. Jones was coming off a victory against Tarver, and had every reason to feel good about going up against him again. In Vegas, however, Jones suffered the first legitimate loss of his career. Tarver’s awesome hook shocked Jones and the world, with the defeated Jones never being the same again.
5. Thomas Hearns KO 2 Roberto Duran – 1984
This was a time of some pretty spectacular fighters. Some boxing fans still long for the days of Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, and Tommy Hearns. When the 154lb Hearns met Duran in 1984, they both held titles. Duran’s reputation was of a fighter with high-energy and a serious punch. Hearns was a typical boxer, with impressive power in each hand. The fight might have only lasted for two short rounds, but it was one hell of an ending. The power that Hearns showed off in this fight was devastating, putting Duran on the floor to win the bout in the second round.
4. Ray Mercer KO 5 Tommy Morrison – 1991
Tommy Morrison couldn’t get out of the corner, and there was no room for the referee to get there to help him out, either. The end of this fight was one of the most violent that’s ever been seen in the sport. Just 28 seconds into the fifth round, Olympic gold medalist Ray Mercer placed a couple of right-handers on Morrison, leaving Tommy Gun from Rocky V caught in the corner. Mercer sensed blood and kept on punching with a series of shots to the head and body until Morrison’s chin had been sufficiently cracked, and the fighter slowly fell to the canvas. Tony Perez, the referee, could do nothing more than stand and watch, like everyone else, as Morrison was well and truly knocked out.
3. Juan Manuel Marquez KO 6 Manny Pacquiao – 2012
The memorable fights between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez make up one of the most entertaining rivalries ever seen in the sport. The two fighters first met in the ring in 2004 in a fight that ended as a draw, even though Marquez went down three times in the opening round. A rematch in 2008 saw a split decision go Pacquiao’s way, due to “Pac-Man” knocking out his opponent in round three. A third match in 2011 saw Pacquiao take the match again, with this time a majority decision being made in his favour. As all three fights were closely-fought contests, fans weren’t satisfied. A case could have been made by Pacquiao that he had proven his point, however. Still, he gave the fans what they wanted and agreed to fight Marquez for a fourth time. It was a decision he likely still regrets. Marquez was better prepared, and was a more powerful and more muscular fighter. And in the sixth round, he delivered a blow that knocked out Pacquiao to end the last of their four bouts.
2. George Foreman KO 10 Michael Moorer – 1994
George Foreman famously wanted to become the oldest-ever heavyweight champion of the world, and for nine rounds, it seemed like he would have been better off staying at home eating dinner from one of his own grills, and watching a younger guy take his place. Michael Moorer was clearly the better fighter, and was certainly faster than the legendary-but-ageing Foreman. But then the 45-year-old reminded the world just why he’d reached legendary status in the first place. Even in his older days, Foreman still packed a punch, and he turned it on again in the 10th round, with just over one minute remaining. Foreman clubbed Moorer to the canvas, with the younger fighter unable to get up in time to stop Foreman realizing his goal of becoming the oldest-ever fighter to win a heavyweight belt.
1. Mike Tyson KO 1 Michael Spinks – 1988
People paid money to watch this fight at home, and if they did so much as go to the bathroom, they could well have missed every moment of it. Spinks surprised everyone who knew anything about boxing when he gave up his light heavyweight crown to fight two divisions higher as a heavyweight. It didn’t take long for him to impress, however, when he defeated the previously unbeaten Larry Holmes to claim the IBF heavyweight crown in 1985. He beat Holmes again in a rematch, setting up a contest with the undefeated and unified champion, “Iron” Mike Tyson. The two undefeated heavyweights came face-to-face in the ring for one of the most anticipated heavyweight bouts of all time. The fight didn’t match the hype, as Tyson knocked out Spins twice in the first half of the opening round. The second knockdown was too much for Spinks, as Tyson came out on top.