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Top 14 Greatest Knockouts in Boxing History

Publish Date:11/06/2023
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Boxing is an art that requires immense skill, courage and ability. But sometimes all it takes to become a successful professional fighter is one devastating blow that ends the contest – no matter what level of training or talent the individual may possess.

Boxing’s history is filled with memorable fights that bring toe-to-toe battles that last all 10-12-even 15 rounds and offer fans plenty of action. Still, nothing quite beats a brutal knockout ending the bout spectacularly.

14) Manny Pacquiao vs Ricky Hatton

Manny Pacquiao scored one of his greatest knockouts against Ricky Hatton at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas on May 2, 2007.

Pacquiao knocked Hatton out in Round 2, surpassing Mayweather’s 10th-round knockout and setting himself up as the go-to-fighter against the money man.

Hatton entered this fight, winning five straight victories after suffering his first knockout defeat against Floyd Mayweather in 2010. It would mark Hatton’s last fight professionally before retiring from boxing altogether. Of course, he made a short-lived comeback but this was pretty much it for the Hit Man.

Video: Pacquiao vs Hatton: Highlights (HBO Boxing)

Pacquiao vs Hatton: Highlights (HBO Boxing)

 

13) David Tua vs John Ruiz

On March 16, 1996, David Tua knocked out John Ruiz with an emphatic right hook during their WBC international heavyweight title fight at Atlantic City’s Convention Center.

Tua was 22-0 at the time of their fight and came in intending to knock Ruiz out quickly. In just 19 seconds, he did so, using his left to connect and landing a series of punches which knocked Ruiz unconscious and ended the contest.

As Ruiz fell to the canvas, Tua caught him with an explosive left hook which sent Ruiz even deeper into unconsciousness.

Video: David Tua vs John Ruiz (Knocked The Fuck Out)

David Tua vs John Ruiz (Knocked The Fuck Out)

 

12) Earnie Shavers vs Jimmy Ellis

On June 18th 1973, at Madison Square Garden in New York, Earnie Shavers put his punching power on full display and left Jimmy Ellis unconscious and convulsing in a heap.

Shavers entered this fight boasting an impressive record of 45-2: 44 of those wins came via knockout for an astounding 97% knockout-to-win ratio!

Video: Earnie Shavers vs Jimmy Ellis

Earnie Shavers vs Jimmy Ellis

 

11) Sugar Ray Robinson vs Gene Fullmer 2

Gene Fullmer was one of the toughest boxers of all time, and his knockout by Sugar Ray is the only time he ever took a ten count due to Sugar Ray’s famous “Perfect Punch”. Robinson had previously lost to Fullmer, but this rematch turned out much differently as Sugar Ray delivered that deadly left hook with which Fullmer was felled once and for all!

Video: Sugar Ray Robinson vs Gene Fullmer II

Sugar Ray Robinson vs Gene Fullmer II

 

10) Derrick Jefferson vs Maurice Harris

What punch would make an experienced heavyweight’s gumshield fly out of his mouth and into space? These 90s contenders were engaged in an enjoyable, civilized slugfest when Jefferson unleashed his devastating left hook from hell.

Harris collapsed onto his back, eyes rolling as the referee waved his arm, his gumshield still flying through the air as though on some strange dental comet trajectory.

Video: DERRICK JEFFERSON KO 6 MAURICE HARRIS 1999 KOOTY

DERRICK JEFFERSON KO 6 MAURICE HARRIS 1999 KOOTY

 

9) Mike Weaver vs John Tate

Mike Weaver delivered an unlikely knockout against John Tate during their fight at Knoxville, Tennessee’s Stokley Athletics Center on March 21, 1980. Weaver struck at an inopportune moment to land the knockout blow and win decisively.

This remarkable knockout came at the conclusion of their 15th and final round, making its impact all the more impressive after 14 grueling rounds of boxing action. Never again will we witness such an event, as now matches can only last up to 12 rounds. Also Weaver was so far behind that this is Boxing’s version of the Hail Mary pass.

Video: KO #12 - MIKE WEAVER vs. JOHN TATE

KO #12 – MIKE WEAVER vs. JOHN TATE

 

8) Sergio Martinez vs Paul Williams 2

Now and then, one of those punches hits that has the sound and force of an explosion, leaving us praying that everyone involved gets up safely.

Sergio Martinez had suffered a controversial majority decision loss to Paul Williams in their first fight, so it was imperative that no similar misfortune befall him again in this rematch.

As Round 2 neared its conclusion, Martinez connected with a left hook that hit with one of the sickening sounds that is heard inside a boxing ring. Williams crumpled to the mat so unnerving and lifelessly that everyone watching held their breath, hoping he would recover quickly enough.

Video: Knockout of the Year; 2010 : Sergio Martinez KO2 Paul Williams II

Knockout of the Year; 2010 : Sergio Martinez KO2 Paul Williams II

 

7) Julian Jackson vs Herol Graham

Julian Jackson dominated Herol Graham during their WBC middleweight title bout on November 24, 1990, at Torrequebrada Hotel and Casino in Benalmadena, Andalucia, Spain.

Graham lay unconscious for approximately five minutes following the devastating blow. A right hand knocked him out instantly before receiving another brutal hit from within the ring when his head violently hit against the canvas and collapsed him onto his side of the mat, rendering him unconscious for good.

As Graham took such a brutal hit and experienced such an excruciating head bounce, this is considered one of the most devastating knockouts ever witnessed in boxing history.

Video: Julian Jackson vs Herol Graham 24.11.1990 (4th Rd KO) - WBC World Middleweight Championship

Julian Jackson vs Herol Graham 24.11.1990 (4th Rd KO) – WBC World Middleweight Championship

 

6) Gerry Cooney vs Ken Norton

On March 11, 1981, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Gerry Cooney shocked Ken Norton by knocking him out in Round 1. This fast and stunning Cooney knockout left Norton seemingly near death as he slumped in the corner.

Cooney’s vicious punches left Norton unconscious, ultimately leading to his retirement from fighting.

Video: Gerry Cooney-Ken Norton KO

Gerry Cooney-Ken Norton KO

 

5) Juan Manuel Marquez vs Manny Pacquiao IV

Before their fourth and final fight, Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao had already engaged in 36 rounds of boxing that left no clear winner.

Most fans anticipated a similar fight, with Pacquiao coming forward trying to attack while Marquez remained content to time him and counterpunch.

Both fighters came out trying to make an impression and touched the canvas before the evening was up.

By the sixth round, it appeared the fight was shifting towards Pacquiao. He had his opponent bleeding profusely with a broken nose, and proceeded to go in for the kill like a shark would – that was when it all changed.

Marquez struck an iconic right hand that floored Pacquiao and knocked him unconscious – finally giving Marquez his victory after so much hard work and frustration.

Video: Knockout of the Year; 2012 : Juan Manuel Marquez KO6 Manny Pacquiao IV

Knockout of the Year; 2012 : Juan Manuel Marquez KO6 Manny Pacquiao IV

 

4) Thomas Hearns vs Roberto Duran

Once upon a time was an era when fighters fought each other! Today fans may complain that our biggest fighters don’t engage, yet back when we had men like Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler, they all engaged each other in head-on battles.

Hearns and Duran faced off at 154 pounds, where both held titles in 1984. Duran was known as an aggressive, high-activity fighter with tremendous punching power, while Hearns was known as an ideal boxer-puncher with both hands having immense ability.

Their fight only lasted two rounds, yet was explosive to the last second. Words cannot express Hearns’ immense power during this fight – which resulted in him stunning Duran by dropping him flat on his face to secure victory in their contest.

Video: Knockout of the Year; 1984 : Thomas Hearns KO2 Roberto Duran

Knockout of the Year; 1984 : Thomas Hearns KO2 Roberto Duran

 

3) Ray Mercer vs Tommy Morrison

Ray Mercer knocked Tommy Morrison unconscious with a devastating barrage of punches at Atlantic City’s Convention Center on October 18, 1991.

Both fighters came into this matchup with unblemished records: Mercer (17-0) had recently won against Francesco Damiani to claim the WBO heavyweight championship; Morrison, on the other hand, had amassed 28 straight victories (23 by knockout).

Mercer was easily outclassed and outpunched during their fight, then Morrison started to run out of gas, and the rest was history.

Video: Ray Mercer vs Tommy Morrison Highlights | BOXING fight, HD

Ray Mercer vs Tommy Morrison Highlights | BOXING fight, HD

 

2) George Foreman vs Michael Moorer

As one of the greatest moments in boxing history, George Foreman’s right hand to Moorer proved decisive and undeniable in their quixotic quest to regain the heavyweight crown two decades after losing it to Muhammad Ali was truly iconic. At an inexorably disadvantageous point deficit and just minutes away from defeat or retirement, Big George finally delivered with one perfect right cross that put Moorer out on his backside, irrevocably damaging Moorer’s credibility; throwing title matters out of balance while elevating Foreman from exceptional heavyweight champion to actual legendary icon status.

Video: Knockout of the Year; 1994 : George Foreman KO10 Michael Moorer

Knockout of the Year; 1994 : George Foreman KO10 Michael Moorer

 

1) Rocky Marciano vs Jersey Joe Walcott

“Take my name out of the record books if I lose!” Walcott taunted Marciano before their first bout, calling Rocky out as an amateur boxer and dismissing him outright as unrespectable. Reflecting this lack of respect, Walcott held his left hand dangerously low throughout the fight – daring Rocky to catch it and hit him hard enough for Walcott to go unconscious instantly. Finally behind on points in an exhausting bout, Marciano unleashed one punch which completely wrecked Walcott’s confidence while simultaneously opening up “The Brockton Blockbuster.”

Video: The Famous Knockout: Marciano KO's Walcott

The Famous Knockout: Marciano KO’s Walcott

 

 

 

 

 

 

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