The War Report: 2017 Knockouts of the Year

Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (right) vs. Roman Gonzalez II. Photo credit: German Villasenor

 

It was a banner year for boxing, in 2017, and when it comes to the sport’s ultimate highlight, knockouts have certainly not fallen short of providing captivating moments between all of the many great fights that took place. Figuring out which knockout is the best of the best is really a matter of taste, so, in order of date, here are the best knockouts of 2017.

 

Gervonta Davis TKO 7 Jose Pedraza (IBF junior lightweight title), January 14 – Brooklyn, New York

 

 

 

The year kicked off with a dazzling performance from one of America’s top young champions and once cleaning Jose “Sniper” Pedraza’s clock in the seventh round with a right hand, Gervonta “Tank” Davis gave a bruising projection to his bright future winning the IBF junior lightweight title at the age of 22.

 

Davis, 19-0 (18), beat up Pedraza leading up to the knockout but the final shot was a clear-cut example of what it means to close the show. In his first step-up fight, the Baltimore, Maryland native quickly established an intense attitude in the ring that not only beat the fight out of Pedraza, 22-1 (12), leading up to the stoppage but created an entertaining fight in which the blue-chipper showed he was willing to take some risk. In the moment, Davis grew up before everyone’s eyes and after putting on another violent display in the U.K. four months later, he seemed destined to be one of the legitimate breakout fighters of the year. In his most recent fight, however, Davis did prove he had some growing up to do, once losing his title on the scale in August. Following it up with a subpar performance the next evening, he confirmed that notion but was at least consistent in bringing another entertaining brawl.

 

Mikey Garcia KO 3 Dejan Zlacticanin (WBC lightweight title), January 28 –  Las Vegas, Nevada

 

 

 

Mikey Garcia made his full-fledged return to the ring in 2017 and, with this blood-curdling knockout of Dejan Zlaticanin, the 30-year-old showed he hadn’t really missed a step.

 

Speaking of which, Zlaticanin was slept by one of the most perfect right hands one will ever see – and it came with a running start. Garcia, 37-0 (30), stunned the southpaw Montenegrin with a right uppercut just beforehand in the third and, by pivoting to his left and throwing a left hand in the same instance, Garcia left Zlaticanin facing the ropes on wobbly legs and in the most vulnerable of positions. Before Zlacticanin, 23-1 (16), could even realize where his opponent was, Garcia stepped forward with a perfect right hand down the middle and the 33-year-old, who had never even been knocked down before, was out cold. It even took a long while for him to wake up but finally did with the help of an oxygen mask.

 

Garcia, who won the WBC lightweight title with this knockout, proceeded to follow it up with the handling of Adrien Broner at 140 pounds but it this moment made the splash.

 

Joshua Greer Jr. KO 6 James Gordon Smith (bantamweight), March 10, 2017 – Detroit, Michigan

 

 

 

Not only is this bantamweight contest overlooked for being one of the best fights of the year, Joshua Greer Jr. highlighted the heated skirmish with this tremendous counter right hand in the sixth round to knock out James Gordon Smith.

 

To put this knockout in the proper context, Greer, 15-1-1 (7), a brash prospect out of Chicago, Illinois, stirred things up going into Smith’s hometown and, as he usually does, made his entrance with a pillow in hand and the words “Night Night” written all over it. “Don’t Blink” is Greer’s rallying cry –  another ode to him being some sort of sandman – and although the 23-year-old is an unabashed talker, he certainly backs it up in the ring. Smith, 12-1 (7), accounted for himself well for the first four rounds but, after suffering his first knockdown in the fifth from an uppercut, the Detroit native was the case and point of Greer’s fulfillment on this night.

 

Paralyzed by the shot, the bout was waved off immediately after Smith’s body contorted to the canvas. Elated by the shot, Greer proceeded to ask for his pillow and climb the turnbuckle in celebration, letting Detroit know he had already warned them.

 

David Lemieux KO 3 Curtis Stevens (middleweight), March 11 –  Verona, New York

 

 

If there were a betting line for whom would win any publication’s “Knockout of the Year” honor, David Lemieux’s one-punch knockout of Curtis Stevens would probably be the odds-on favorite.

 

Lemieux, 38-4 (33), cornered and countered Stevens with one of the shortest left hooks one will ever see in the third round. The shot was so quick, watching in real time, Stevens just suddenly dropped to the canvas, during an exchange, but what was abundantly clear once his body rested on the edge of the mat was that the Brooklyn brawler was out cold. Stevens, 29-6 (21), stayed asleep for what seemed like an eternity and was later stretchered out of the ring, as a precaution. With his mother seen sitting front row after the highlight reel KO was replayed over and over, it was a grim reminder of how human this sport can be but was also a revealing look into the creatural element, as these are the kinds of moments that naturally get the blood pumping.

 

Raymundo Beltran KO 2 Jonathan Maicelo (lightweight), May 20 – New York, New York

 

 

After going through a hellish first round, Ray Beltran ended Jonathan Maicelo’s spirited effort with a crucifying left hook in the second round.

 

Beltran, 34-7-1 (21), stumbled out of the gate but not without some bad luck. An accidental headbutt had him on the canvas in the first but it was mistakenly ruled a knockdown by referee David Fields. Maicelo, 26-3 (13), rallied with an energized effort of offense and had Beltran perplexed, at times, to start. In the first round’s final moments, Beltran dropped Maicelo with an inside shot but Fields mistakenly ruled it a slip, to close out the round. Nothing was going right for Beltran and Maicelo continued with the combination punching into the second, feeding off the momentum of good luck. Beltran’s trademark left hook erased everything that led up to it, however, and, once regaining control of his spasming body, Maicelo deliriously tried to fight off the stretcher that carried him out.

 

Srisaket Sor Rungvisai KO 4 Roman Gonzalez (WBC junior bantamweight title), September 9 – Carson, California

 

 

The rematch of a definite “Fight of the Year” candidate in 2017, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai not only closed the door on any controversy stemming from their March bout but may have very well ended the legendary run by Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, with this knockout.

 

Srisaket, 44-4-1 (40), whose birth name is Wisaksil Wangek, had already knocked Gonzalez down with bruising hooks in the fourth round, but the right hand knocked out the Nicaraguan hero, leaving the StubHub Center in a silent buzz. A shocking result in the end but not once it was realized, by the second round, that this Thai junior bantamweight had a brute strength advantage against a champion who dominated the three divisions below 115 pounds. There was a palpable sense that something wasn’t right with Gonzalez, 46-2 (38), but the 30-year-old tried to unfurl his dizzying offense anyway, paying little mind to defense in return and ultimately paying the price.

 

Srisaket dethroned the king of the little guys and it will certainly be remembered as one of the most memorable moments of 2017. Once a trash collector, who was 1-3-1 as a boxing professional, eight years ago, Srisaket celebrated in the ring for an extended period of time and basked in the summer night, as the outdoor venue emptied, knowing now what it feels like to make true boxing history.

 

Yunier Dorticos TKO 2 Dmitry Kudryashov (cruiserweight), September 23 – San Antonio, Texas

 

 

 

Once the “World Boxing Super Series” was conceived and seeded early in the year, the first round match-up between Yunier Dorticos and Dmitry Kudryashov was the fight to look forward to in the cruiserweight tournament. Although it landed in a peculiar spot, the Alamodome was merely the temporary office of “The KO Doctor” for a night.

 

Having brought the fight to his counterpart in the first round, Dorticos, 22–0 (21), had Kudryashov already gasping for air and forced to keep up with his relentless volume of punches in the second round. The pre-op was already done for the Cuban within six minutes of action and, with one swift right hand timed off a lazy jab, Dorticos’ procedure was complete.

 

Kudryashov, 21-2 (21) went from a menacing looking Russian power puncher to an incapacitated zombie, once trying to rise from the shot. After his body neatly folded to the canvas, Kudryashov tried getting up immediately and it led to perhaps the most memorable part of the knockout, as everyone got to see the after effect of Dorticos’ unruly practice. Pumping his chest as Kudryashov’s body crumbled, Dorticos lived up to his namesake and rightfully celebrated the dismantling in a passionate fashion.

 

Jermell Charlo KO 1 Erickson Lubin (WBC junior middleweight title), October 14 – Brooklyn, New York

 

 

 

Not the most aesthetically pleasing knockout of the year but one that opened a lot of eyes, once Jermell Charlo dispatched Erickson Lubin with one right hand, quickly ending a match-up many were looking forward to seeing.

 

Charlo, 30-0 (15), the WBC junior middleweight titleholder, was going up against one of the highest rated American contenders but all it took was one mistake for Lubin to be twitching on the canvas. Charlo put every ounce of his weight into a low right hand that caught Lubin’s head, once he bent at the waist. Lubin, 18-1 (13), was suddenly on the canvas, not completely knocked out but his circuits fried, as he could be seen trying to move a twitching body.

 

Fighting out of Houston, Texas, Jermell one-upped his April 22 knockout of Charles Hatley by producing the unexpected and, along with his twin brother, former IBF junior middleweight beltholder Jermall, the Charlos are now a couple of the United States’ rising stars, going into 2018.

 

Deontay Wilder KO 1 Bermane Stiverne (WBC heavyweight title), November 4 – Brooklyn, New York

 

 

 

Perhaps the most violent knockout of 2017, Deontay Wilder’s first round destruction of Bermane Stiverne, in their rematch, was as blood-curdling as they come.

 

Wilder, 39-0 (38), furiously pumped his jab to start and, once knocking Stiverne down with a perfect right hand down the middle, about two minutes in, his bad intentions were abundantly clear. Stiverne, 25-3-1 (21), rose from the shot, seemingly OK to continue, but, once action continued, he stood behind his guard, almost as still as the statuesque Wilder in front of him. It was certainly Wilder’s Kodak moment and, once abruptly letting his hands go again, Stiverne was on his backside for the second time. At this point, it was clear Stiverne was on his way out but, in the waning seconds of the opening round, Wilder proceeded to provide a punishing finish that had neatly folded his foe’s body, hanging off the ropes to dry.

 

Zolani Tete KO 1 Siboniso Gonya (WBO bantamweight title), November 18 – Belfast, Northern Ireland

 

 

 

Officially the quickest knockout in world title bout history, Zolani “Last Born” Tete laid out Siboniso Gonya with the first punch he threw to impressively defend the WBO bantamweight title for the first time.

 

Tete, 26-3 (21), Mdantsane, South Africa, timed a right hook without ever really having to feel out his fellow countryman and the fight was over in the blink of an eye. Gonya, 11-2 (5), didn’t anticipate such a perfectly-gauged punch and was out cold, once his body rested on the canvas. It took an oxygen mask to bring Gonya back to his senses and, although Tete cemented a moment for himself in boxing history, the 29-year-old, who had held a world title at 115 pounds, raised his stock with this impressive win and made a name for himself for those who didn’t know him before.

 

 

 

You can reach Michael Baca II at mikebaca2@gmail.com and follow him at twitter.com/mikebaca2

 

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