10. Roy Jones KO 1 Montell Griffin, Foxwoods, Mashantucket, Connecticut, August 7, 1997.
When Louis Del Valle once claimed to have bested Roy in a sparring session, the Pensacola phenomenon countered, “It’s different when I’m mad..’
It certainly seemed the case with this stunning revenge win over Griffin to reclaim the WBC light heavyweight diadem.
Montell’s elusive style had given Jones all the trouble he could handle five months earlier. The frustrated pound-for-pound king was slung out for hitting his opponent while he took a knee I’m round 9.
The necessary encore could scarcely have been more different. A supreme sense of purpose and a blizzard of lead left hooks ensured that honour was restored and Griffin rendered recumbent with 30 seconds left on the clock.
His various attempts to rise were uncannily reminiscent of Trevor Berbick’s quasi-drunken demeanour when KO’d by a young Mike Tyson.
9. Jerry Quarry KO 1 Earnie Shavers, Madison Square Garden, New York, December 12, 1973.
Shavers might routinely be regarded as the greatest one shot puncher in the history of the sport but it was Quarry’s fluid and relentless combination punching that snapped an impressive KO streak and caused ‘The Acorn’ to unravel on this night at the Garden.
Shavers came out characteristically aggressive and It looked as if Gerry might get on his bike but the perennial Irish American contender quickly opted to fight fire with fire. A right uppercut/ left hook did the initial damage and Quarry was all over his man like the proverbial cheap suit, thereafter.
On the plus side, Shavers’ relative punch resistance was plain for all to see as he absorbed a catalogue of pulverising shots before tasting the canvas. He rose gamely for more of the same but, seconds later, the esteemed Arthur Mercante has seen quite enough.
8. Ray Mancini KO 1 Arturo Frias, The Aladdin, Las Vegas, Nevada, May 8, 1982.
There was no knockdown in this fight which might seem blasphemous and contradictory on a list of the greatest one round finishes but Ray Mancini’s ascendance to the WBA lightweight throne was about as crazy and competitive a slugfest as can be condensed into 3 minutes.
The majority of first round KOs are understandably one sided affairs but Mancini and defending champion, Frias, exchanged bombs from the outset in a crowd pleasing spectacle that featured more action and highlights in its brevity than could be found on a Floyd Mayweather career box set.
7. Mike Tyson KO 1 Marvis Frazier, Civic Centre, Glenn Falls, New York, July 26, 1986
Mike Tyson took a lot of fighters out in the opening round but his pre championship 30 second annihilation of Joe Frazier’s son, Marvis, will be probably be remembered as vividly as any.
This was the ‘Kid Dynamite’ of Tysonite dreams with the Brownsville bomber tearing into Frazier as if the latter had defiled his sister. Uppercuts were the order of the day as the utterly outgunned Philly hopeful capitulated under the malevolence of ‘Iron’ Mike’s fluently destructive combinations in precisely half a minute.
The image of Marvis on his knees in a neutral corner, head gently rocking in a residual catatonic funk will live forever.
6. Azumah Nelson KO 1 Pat Cowdell, NEC, Birmingham, October 10, 1985.
Prior to this second phase of his career, Cowdell had taken the legendary Salvador Sanchez to a split decision over 15 rounds at the Houston Astrodome in December 1981. Besides an early career cuts loss, the slippery Midlands veteran had never been stopped and looked a safe bet to extend the formidable Ghanaian champion in his own backyard at the National Exhibition Centre.
A perfect left uppercut counter to Cowdell’s rather tentative and ill advised left hook lead put paid to any such reasonable logic as the stricken challenger was counted out at 2.24 by the third man, Octavio Meyran.
5. Juan ‘Kid’ Meza KO 1 Jaime Garza, Kingston, New York, November 3, 1984.
Boasting a record of 40-0 with 38 KOs, Garza was heralded by those in the know as the hardest pound for pound puncher in the game.
When Meza was dumped on the seat of his trunks within the first 30 seconds, it appeared that the form book would be vindicated but the old axiom about the folly of counting chickens prematurely Is never truer than it is in the realm of boxing.
Meza rose at 8 and it was immediately apparent that he wasn’t badly shaken up. As the champion looked to do more of the same damage, ringside commentator, Sugar Ray Leonard offered a cautionary observation that Garza was ‘falling in with his hands down.’
And that is precisely what he did when walking on to a huge left hook with 10 seconds remaining in the first frame.
Garza attempted to regain his feet but resembled a man who had lost a tequila slamming contest in a Santa Monica dive bar, causing referee, Johnny Lo Bianco to wave the proceedings off at 2.54.
4. Thomas Hearns KO 1 James Schuler, Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, March 10, 1986.
The Hitman’s chilling dismissal of the man who called himself ‘Black Gold’ in the chief supporting ‘contest’ to Marvin Hagler vs John Mugabi doesn’t have the historical significance of certain other fights listed but, as a spectacle, it remains as perfect and devastating a performance as you will ever see.
Hearns, seeking redemption in the wake of his epic reversal to ‘Marvelous’ Marvin the previous year, set out his stall with knifing left hooks to the body. They didn’t exactly lower Shuler’s guard and neither did they need to as Tommy measured his foe with a long left lead before launching an Exocet missile of a right hand that could have been threaded through the eye of a needle.
The formality of Richard Steele’s count seemed wholly unnecessary as James lay motionless and spread eagled on the canvas. The official time was 1,13.It may have ominously foreboding but nobody could have foreseen the tragedy that followed as Schuler was killed in a motorcycle accident in Philadelphia, seven days after his first pro reversal.
3. Sonny Liston KO 1 Floyd Patterson, Comiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois, September 25, 1962.
The unpopular coronation of the morose former jailbird with unsavoury connections at the expense of contemporary Black America’s preferred poster boy set the bar for murderous bangers who thrive on intimidation.
Iconic mentor Cus D’Amato had famously done everything within his remit to keep Patterson away from Liston, the menacing mandatory challenger who had run out of heavyweight contenders to bludgeon. Opting to commit the pugilistic version of Hara-Kiri, Floyd stepped up to meet his daunting obligation and duly became an ex-champ.
Conceding 13 inches in reach, Patterson’s game plan appeared to consist of staying low and attempting to crowd Sonny. As a technical strategy, it proved to be about as successful as the charge of the light brigade.
After a relatively quiet opening, two clubbing left hooks sent the champion careering into the ropes before a left hook/right uppercut/ left hook combination put him down for the full count with 54 seconds remaining on the clock in the opening stanza.
The rematch in Las Vegas the following summer was equally disastrous from poor Floyd’s perspective.
2. Mike Tyson KO 1 Michael Spinks, Atlantic City Convention Centre, New Jersey, June 27, 1988.
On a personal level, I was rather disappointed by this result. As a staunch Tyson fan, I had no hankering to see the Brownsville prodigy defeated but there was an optimistic desire for him to be extended, at least, in this historically hyped encounter.
Many credible people believed that Spinks had the tools to do the job but, unfortunately, Michael wasn’t one of them as he walked to the ring apparently frozen with apprehension.
After gingerly skittering around the ring for 60 odd seconds, ‘The Jinx’ was backed to the ropes and nailed with left hook/right uppercut to the body combination that sent him sinking to the mat.
He might just as well have stayed there but instead rose to attempt what ITV’s Jim Watt disparaged as a ‘silly right hand’ as Tyson advanced to administer a left hook/right hook coup de grace, leaving the former light heavyweight king prostrate and horizontal beneath the bottom rope.
As a sporting spectacle, you could scarcely call it a fight but in terms of historical significance and an evergreen emblem of Iron Mike’s ‘invincible’ prime, it’s a rout that will never be forgotten.
1. Joe Louis KO 1 Max Schmeling, Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, June 22, 1938.
In terms of sociopolitical significance, the rematch between Joe Louis and his former conqueror, Max Schmeling, is one of the three biggest fights in world history, alongside Johnson-Jeffries, and Ali-Frazier 1.
2 years earlier, Schmeling had momentarily checked the ‘Brown Bomber’s’ meteoric rise in a huge upset after famously observing that Joe had a habit of dropping his left hand after jabbing. Having cryptically claimed, “I zee zumthink…” in the build up, Max took full advantage on fight night with copious right hand counters en route a 12th round KO.
The encore for the Heavyweight Championship of the World pit Louis as the totem of free world democracy against the reluctant symbol of Hitler’s Aryan supremacist ideal.But Louis, making his 4th defence of the title before a capacity crowd of 70, 000,was a vastly improved fighter to the relative novice who had been destroyed and humbled in 1936.
It was all over after 2 minutes and 4 seconds of the opening round and, to this day, the breathtakingly efficient ferocity of ‘Shufflin’ Joe’s performance constitutes the epitome of poetic savagery inside a roped square.