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The 8 Debate

Dec. 24, 2012
Dec. 24, 2012

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Dec. 24, 2012

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The 8 Debate

Boxing's Greatest One-punch Knockouts

The nicknames attached to boxing—the Sweet Science, the Manly Art of Self-Defense, the Fight Game—obscure the concussive violence at the heart of the sport. Then suddenly there's Manny Pacquiao—until then seemingly invincible—planking on the canvas in Las Vegas after a single right hand from Juan Manuel Màrquez, and we are reminded that boxing is all about punches thrown and landed.

This is an article from the Dec. 24, 2012 issue

Here's a look at where Màrquez's epic shot of Dec. 8 ranks among history's eight greatest one-punch KOs (that's one punch; no Dempsey-Willard mauling or Douglas-Tyson beatdown), rated on historical significance and sheer pyrotechnics.

1 Sugar Ray Robinson KO 5 Gene Fullmer,May 1, 1957

The fighter acclaimed as the best ever pound-for-pound, Robinson won back the middleweight crown with a textbook left hook, thrown while moving backward.

2 Rocky Marciano KO 13 Jersey Joe Walcott,Sept. 23, 1952

Marciano was a 9-to-5 favorite to take the heavyweight title from Walcott, but he was behind on points when he backed the champ to the ropes and landed a perfect right hand. Walcott, wrote A.J. Liebling, "flowed down like flour out of a chute."

3 Juan Manuel Màrquez KO 6 Manny Pacquiao,Dec. 8, 2012

In their fourth meeting (after a draw and two narrow Pacquiao wins), the battered and bleeding Màrquez finally provided a definitive ending.

4 Tommy Hearns TKO 2 Roberto Duràn,June 15, 1984

Size determined the result in this match between two alltime greats, as the 6'1" Hitman poleaxed the 5'7" Duràn with a huge right cross.

5 Floyd Patterson KO 5 Ingemar Johansson,June 20, 1960

Patterson became the first to regain the heavyweight title; his scythelike left hook left Johansson out cold, leg twitching, and Patterson shaken by his own viciousness.

6 Muhammad Ali KO 1 Sonny Liston,May 25, 1965

The rematch between Ali and Liston ended after less than two minutes amid chaos and cries of a fix. But Ali's flashing right—cynics dubbed it the Phantom Punch; he called it the Anchor—landed flush.

7 George Foreman KO 10 Michael Moorer,Nov. 5, 1994

Nearly 22 years after he first won the title, the 45-year-old Foreman concluded his improbable comeback with a thudding right that flattened Moorer and made Big George the oldest heavyweight champ in history.

8 Lennox Lewis KO 4 Hasim Rahman,Nov. 17, 2001

Upset by Rahman seven months earlier, Lewis came into the rematch fiercely focused. He stalked Rahman from the opening bell before pulling the trigger on a rifle shot of a right hand—the signature punch of his 14-year career.

Among heavyweight champions, current WBC king Vitali Klitschko has a KO percentage of 87.23 (41 of his 47 bouts, 45 of which were wins), second all time to Rocky Marciano's 87.76% (43 of 49, all wins).

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PHOTOROLF VENNENBERND/EPA (KLITSCHKO)PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONPHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY NICOLE ZIGMONT: HERB SCHARFMAN (WALCOTT AND MARCIANO)POW Walcott Marciano