Ranking Boxing's Best Knockouts of 2014 So Far

Brian McDonald@@sackedbybmacContributor IJuly 23, 2014

Ranking Boxing's Best Knockouts of 2014 So Far

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    Finish the show.

    Knockouts can transform good boxers into stars and stars into pay-per-view kings. Mike Tyson and Manny Pacquiao are great examples of how the art of the knockout can lift boxers into rock star status.

    Not only do the fans like to see knockouts, it's beneficial for the boxers as well. Unfortunately in boxing we spend as much time talking about bad scorecards as we do great performances. Boxers who are able to knockout their opponent and take the decision away from the judges will always be more successful.

    You can't trust the judges to always pick the correct winner; Pacquiao knows that truth as well.

    In determining which knockouts would make the list and how to rank them, I considered three factors: What was at stake, if the knockout secured a comeback after the boxer trailed and the overall "wow factor" of the punches or combination of punches that put his opponent on the mat.

    For the purposes of this article I'll consider boxers who also won by TKO or by the referee stopping the bout since the fight was still stopped early and the winning boxer would have likely won by knockout if it had continued.

5. Gennady Golovkin vs. Osumanu Adama

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    Why Did It Make the List?

    Gennady Golovkin is arguably boxing's best knockout machine. Golovkin has quickly become a fan favorite since bursting on to the U.S. boxing scene a couple years ago. Though his awesome power may be new to American boxing fans, Golovkin has been stopping opponents for years.

    The knockout over Osumanu Adama in his last fight was Golovkin's 16th in a row; Golovkin also owns the highest career knockout percentage of any current title holder.

    What made the TKO victory particularly impressive was that Golovkin knocked Adama down three times—inside seven rounds—before the stoppage, including one from a jab.

    I'll repeat that: Golovkin knocked Adama down with a jab; GGG has crazy power. 

    How Did the Knockout Happen?

    Overwhelming pressure and precise, accurate power punches to the body and head of Adama.

    Golovkin might be the best fighter in the world at cutting off the ring and maintaining the correct distance and position in order to get off his thunderous power punches.

    His left hook in particular was devastating during the fight. It's no wonder why Golovkin continues to be both one of the most avoided fighters by other boxers and the most celebrated by fans.

4. Canelo Alvarez vs. Alfredo Angulo

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    Why Did It Make the List?

    Perhaps the best performance ever for one of boxing's brightest stars. Coming into the fight against Alfredo Angulo, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez needed a big bounce-back victory to reclaim his spot as an elite fighter after a lopsided loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. the previous year.

    Alvarez not only looked good against Angulo, he looked like a brand new fighter. The same power and work to the body was there, but the accuracy and level of aggression was eye opening.

    Of course, you could say that Angulo was handpicked to make Alvarez look impressive, but it was still a spectacular performance.

    Watching the fight it seemed like every 10 seconds my buddy and I were reacting to some ridiculously hard shot from Alvarez that made a sickening thud against the body and skull of Angulo. I think Canelo's punches were so hard that our "oohs" and "ahhs" might have actually been a reaction to the pain we were feeling.

    Give all the credit to Angulo for never actually going down, but I don't blame the referee for stopping the fight.

    A one-punch knockout isn't what shortens the careers of boxers; it's the sustained beating over an entire fight.

    Angulo was taking massive punishment and was way behind on the cards; once his head snapped back violently from an uppercut and he staggered, it was time to end the match.

    How Did the Knockout Happen?

    A relentless assault from a far superior fighter; Angulo was simply overmatched. I wouldn't call Alvarez a quick fighter with what I've seen from him against Mayweather and Erislandy Lara, but he looked 10 times faster than Angulo, who appeared to be walking around in cement boots.

    The fighter who we saw barely able to get off a jab against Mayweather was in complete control the entire fight. Alvarez landed vicious combinations of left hooks and straight right hands, connecting with what felt like nearly every punch he threw.

    Angulo was tough, but his defense was embarrassing and he took a beating.

    By the time the fight was finally stopped in the 10th round, Alvarez had landed 197 power-punches to 78 from Angulo with a staggering 64 percent connection rate. Landing 50 percent of your power-punches usually means you dominated the fight; 64 percent is absurd.

    Amazing effort from Alvarez and a reason to rethink the career strategy for Angulo and his team.

3. Lucas Matthysse vs. John Molina

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    Why Did It Make the List?

    Lucas Matthysse got off the canvas multiple times to stop John Molina with an impressive display of power. Any knockout victory is impressive, but doing so after getting rocked several times by your opponent is what turns fighters into legends.

    This was a classic back-and-forth fight. I'm sure many of you like me rode a wave of emotion and excitement as the momentum of the fight swung wildly each way.

    This fight wasn't on the same level, but it shared some of the same qualities that made Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo one of the best fights of all time.

    When the winning fighter gets off the mat multiple times and stuns his opponent with knockout power of his own after it looked like he was done, that automatically earns it a spot on lists like this one.

    There's no doubt in my mind that Matthysse vs. Molina will be a top contender for fight of the year.

    How Did the Knockout Happen?

    Matthysse was willing to walk though power counter punches from Molina to land big combinations of his own. Eventually the culmination of the bombs thrown by Matthysse was just too much for Molina to handle.

    Matthysse took a lot of damage and ate too many shots, but he dished out more than he received. The Argentinian is one of the top offensive fighters in the game, but it seemed at times that Molina was way more concerned about getting off his own punches rather than protecting himself from Matthysse's onslaught.

    It wasn't just a lucky punch or a flash knockdown. There wasn't a single left hook or big uppercut or even a stiff jab that did the damage. Matthysse knocked out Molina the same way he has every opponent; with relentless pressure and powerful combinations to the body and head.

    It's no wonder why Matthysse has 32 knockouts out of his 35 career victories.

2. Terence Crawford vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa

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    Why Did It Make the List?

    Terence Crawford put himself on the door step of becoming a star with a spectacular stoppage victory over maybe the best opponent he's fought to date. Perhaps what made his TKO win over Yuriorkis Gamboa even more impressive is that the smaller fighter dominated the early portion of the fight. 

    Gamboa is amazingly quick & slick. He's able to move out of the way & land a counter like Crawford sent him a text with what's coming...

    — Brian McDonald (@sackedbybmac) June 29, 2014 

    Better round for Crawford but I had Gamboa winning. Gamboa countered every meaningful Crawford punch & landed more. 3-1 Gamboa #boxing

    — Brian McDonald (@sackedbybmac) June 29, 2014

    Crawford headed into the fifth round most likely trailing on everyone's scorecard, but he kept coming forward and didn't give up.

    The Nebraska native looked slower, confused and like he was headed to a unanimous-decision loss, but the fight flipped quickly and dramatically. His adjustments finally started working, and Crawford landed the first of four total knockdowns in the fifth round.

    Seeing Crawford make the adjustment to stop an opponent who was previously beating him soundly was spectacular. Gutty performances like that also win over fans quickly.

    How Did the Knockout Happen?

    Crawford's decision to switch from an orthodox stance to a southpaw stance was a huge factor. The switch allowed Crawford to jab with his more powerful hand and use it to work his way inside for power-punches.

    Gamboa's speed was a major factor early in the fight. He'd shoot in, hit Crawford with a quick combo and escape before the champion could even blink. Once Crawford established the jab, he was able to catch Gamboa lunging in and back him off a little bit.

    With Gamboa's offense slowed, Crawford found more openings for his power-punches, which eventually ended the fight. In particular his uppercut between the guard of Gamboa was a thing of beauty.

1. Miguel Cotto vs. Sergio Martinez

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    Why Did It Make the List?

    Sergio Martinez was the lineal middleweight champion, and Miguel Cotto made him look like a washed-up club-level fighter.

    In his second fight with six-time BWAA Trainer of the Year Freddie Roach, Cotto—who was already worthy of the Hall of Fame before the fight—put on perhaps the best performance of his entire career.

    Cotto dominated an overmatched Delvin Rodriguez in his previous bout, but despite the impressive nature of his third-round TKO, it was hard to know if Cotto was truly back considering the level of his opponent.

    Turns out Cotto was 100 percent back.

    Roach helped return Cotto back into the fighter who devastated his opponents with powerful body shots and left hooks. He looked like the Cotto who dominated Zab Judah in 2007 instead of the lifeless version we saw get nearly shut out by Austin Trout in 2012.

    How Did the Knockout Happen?

    Cotto landed the left hook all night long, often doubling up on it by working from the body up to the head. In particular his shots to the body seemed to shake Martinez from head to toe.

    Though it lasted another nine rounds, the fight was over after Cotto knocked Martinez down three times during the first round. Martinez was shaken, he appeared to hurt his knee and couldn't escape Cotto's relentless pressure with how well the Puerto Rican was cutting off the ring.

    A legendary performance from the four-division champion.

    Follow me on Twitter for more boxing analysis and round-by-round scoring of big fights: @sackedbybmac