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Looking for a Knockout, Ten First-Hand Accounts

As a big boxing fan, I've witnessed many pro fights since I began watching the sport in the 1970s. What most pugilistic fans enjoy seeing is that big knockout. Throughout the history of the sport of boxing, there have been many electrifying and historic knockouts some with just a single strike, others resulting in a stoppage by the referee.

Instead of listing some of the greatest KOs ever, what follows is my list of knockouts that I was fortunate to witness. Some came as no surprise others were shocking to see who the victim was. Here are my top 10 favorite knockouts in pro boxing that I watched happen.

10. Thomas Hearns vs. Pipino Cuevas

Thomas Hearns closes this show with yet another incredible knockout that won him the welterweight championship. Overmatched, Cuevas suffered the same fate as Roberto Duran although Cuevas was able to rise to his feat. But one Hearns blast rocked Cuevas making him unsteady on his feet than the Hitman followed it up with a finishing blow that was about as hard as you could hit anyone.


9. Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Manny Pacquiao

Say goodnight Manny." This goes right up there with Roberto Duran being knocked out by Thomas Hearns. Manny Pacquiao might be the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in history. A winner of eight different division championships, Pacquiao's accommodations, and awards are nearly endless, just go take a peek at his Wikipedia page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manny_Pacquiao#Professional_boxing). Just not a boxer, this man has played basketball and became a politician. In the ring, he was fearless despite suffering seven losses in 71 fights. This bout was the fourth time the two boxers had fought each other with Marquez looking for his first win in the series after dropping two of the first three the other being a draw. He left no doubt in anyone's mind who was better on this night when he smashed a right hand squarely into Pacquiao's face putting him to sleep where he could not even get up.


8. Ray Mercer vs. Tommy Morrison

The late Tommy Morrison had a tragic end to his life. Just 44 years of age, rumors were that he died from AIDS. However, in Nebraska where Morrison passed, that state's Department of Health & Human Services indicated the cause of death was due to cardiac arrest, which resulted from multiorgan failure brought on by septic shock which in turn was caused by a Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection. No matter the case, Morrison may be best remembered for playing a starring role in Rocky V. As a real fighter, he showed promise and in 51 pro fights lost just three times. His first loss was devastating, the one we are talking about here against Ray Mercer. He would also lose to Michael Bentt and Lennox Lewis. Much like the aforementioned Tyson/Frazier and Cooney/Norton fights, Mercer rendered Morrison defenseless and pounded him in a fashion not seen very often. Morrison would recover from this fight and go on to win his next 10 fights until Michael Bentt scored a TKO in the first round against the losing Morrison.


7. Gerry Cooney vs. Ken Norton

Next to the knockout of Marvis Frazier by Mike Tyson, the ending to this bout ranks right up there with scary endings. Unlike Tyson landing some devastating shots on Frazier and him slumping to the canvas, Gerry Cooney land some extremely hard uppercuts to Norton's head but the ring ropes held him up from dropping to the canvas. Without the referee stepping in soon enough, Cooney was able to land four clean shots to Norton's noggin while he was already out. It's a surprise he wasn't killed from the shots.


6. Tyson vs. Spinks

Here again, we have a showing of Mike Tyson's power. "Iron Mike" may be the hardest hitting heavyweight in history and as Spinks was trying to rest the heavyweight title from Mike Tyson, he failed to get out of the first round. After one knockdown, Tyson made sure he was going to stay down with an uppercut that nearly decapitated Spinks. I remember going to Madison Square Garden in New York to watch this fight on pay-per-view with a friend of mine at that time and he swore the fight was fixed because it was over in 91 seconds. But if you look at Michael Spinks' eyes following the knockout punch you can tell he took a big shot. Also in the way, he got up which was barely. Tyson also sent Spinks into retirement as this marked the light heavyweight and heavyweight champion's final fight.


5. Mike Weaver vs. John Tate

We've reached the halfway point of this countdown and go back to the year 1980 and the heavyweight champion was "Big" John Tate. He had won the title from Gerrie Coetzee a year before and was making his first defense while having yet to suffer a loss in his pro career. At 20-0, he was being challenged by Mike Weaver in his home state of Tennessee. Weaver on the other hand came into this fight with nine losses on his record. For the first 14 rounds, it was all Tate. He had a sizeable lead heading into the final 15th round and all needed to do was finish the round for a victory. Not to be. With just under a minute to go in the fight, Weaver landed a thunderous left cross with a followup right hook that put John Tate to sleep…literally. The title went to Weaver despite losing nearly every round but the last.


4. Mike Tyson vs. Marvis Frazier

In this fight, 26-year-old Marvis Frazier son of legendary Joe Frazier agreed to fight a 20-year old tiger named Tyson. What a mistake. As Tyson viciously knocked out Frazier in the very first round, the stoppage was so scary it sent a message to future opponents of Mike Tyson that they better bring a pretty solid chin into a bout with the rising star. Tyson walked away from Frazier after putting him on the canvas leaving behind a carcass that didn't know where he was.


3. Mike Tyson vs. Trevor Berbick

I put this knockout at #3 not because it was on Mike Tyson's typical nasty knockouts but because of how Trevor Berbick reacted to one big Tyson left-hand uppercut. Getting knocked right on the forehead, it took Berbick a few seconds to feel the impact and as he went down he tried to get up but had no legs to do so and stumbled back into the ropes and then tried to get up again only to fall again. Completely disoriented referee Mills Lane called the fight over. The victory moved Tyson to a 28-0 record and made him the new WBC champion, the youngest ever to win the heavyweight crown. Up to that point, Tyson had scored a KO or TKO in everyone one of his 28 fights except for decision victories over James "Bonecrusher" Smith and Tony "TNT" Tucker.


2. Thomas Hearns vs. Marvin Hagler

You will find the Hitman appearing three times in this column but in this bout, he was the loser. However, in this three-round war, what we saw was perhaps the greatest boxing match in history. That's because these two warriors went toe-to-toe for three rounds displaying a menu of brutality rarely seen in a boxing match. If it wasn't Marvin Hagler, Hearns would probably have beat any other fighter with the bombs he landed on "Marvelous" Marvin's head. After opening a cut on the forehead of Hagler, the defending champion used that as a motivation tool to end the fight before the referee could stop the action. Hagler went on the attack and pummeled Hearns into submission but received much credit afterward for his heart and will to slug it out with one of the meanest middleweights in history.


1. Thomas Hearns vs. Roberto Duran

This is probably my favorite knockout of all-time simply because no one would ever have expected Roberto Doran to be knocked out to the point he was counted out. But always one of the most dangerous and lethal punchers of all time, Thomas "Hitman" Hearns lived up to his nickname in this fight. Defending his super welterweight title, Hearns landed one of the most vicious right hands you will ever see. Hearns also knocked Duran down in the first a foreshadowing of what was to come. The end came in round two in devastating fashion as Duran fell like a tree being chopped down.

There you have it. Ten great knockouts highlighted mostly by two of the greatest fighters ever Mike Tyson and Thomas Hearns. In my book, Hearns does not the recognition he deserves as being one of the very best ever.

Harv Aronson

Harv Aronson

Writer

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