1• JOE LOUIS TO MAX SCHMELING (June 22, 1938, Yankee Stadium, New York)
Joe Louis’s fighting stance approached technical perfection. His legs kept an exact angle of balance and support. His guard observed the main premise of the knockout: the right fist high and the left lower and relaxed to fire the openings in jab or straight without being far from his jaw. JoeLouis, The Detroit Bombercame to this fight with the lesson learned of what his first knockout loss against Schmeling himself meant, two years earlier, on June 19, 1936. On that occasion the German knocked him down in the 12th round and knocked him down again for the entire account with another right hand.
In revenge Louis gave a boxing lesson. He chose to take the center of the ring, always anticipate Schmeling’s top zone with his left and wait for his lateral exit to the left to fire his upward right punches. That was how in the first melee Joe threw six punches on the inside line of which he hit five, one of them, a hook to the intercostal seemed to take the breath away from the German, a boxer whom Hitler had decorated and from whom he expected victory again. what should it mean “German supremacy over the United States and that of whites over blacks”.
None of these Hitler delusions were possible: Joe landed a flawless one-two (left first on jab, right behind on cross) that sent Schmeling to the canvas. The count reached eight. He got up quickly until a right cross caught him in the jaw again. This new fall anticipated a glorious knockout. And it was just a few seconds later: a brief right hook of very slight travel with the part of the knuckles that impacted in the middle of the chin.
Max Schmeling, who was awaiting hero honors in Germany, could no longer get up. An aesthetically unforgettable knockout had been produced by a boxer of fine technical lines and unparalleled timing movements.
2• ROCKY MARCIANO TO JOE LOUIS (October 26, 1951, Madison Square Garden, New York)
The boxing world felt several sensations the night he defeated Joe Louis at Madison. On the one hand, his indestructible strength as the determining factor of success on a physical structure less than 90 kilos. On the other, how a sustained attack taking all kinds of risks is unstoppable by the better boxing of his opponent (or opponents in almost all cases). Marciano, who was also called “The Rock”, was a tank “with an uncovered face”. Joe, who was already 37 years old against Rocky’s 28, brought out his entire repertoire. He did it at a lower speed and with more predictable reverse starts. Marciano overwhelmed him until he suffocated him in sectors of ropes from where it is difficult to resume the long distance. And given his physical preponderance, good old Joe should have fought rather than boxed. The same thing happened to all of Marciano’s opponents: Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles, Roland La Starza and even Archie Moore himself. His sustained, systemic, unstoppable attack ended up imposing the conditions for development. Joe Louis couldn’t contain him either with his orthodoxy as neat as it was impeccable. And in the 8th round he was taken down by a first right hand as he tried to slide to his left. He fell and standing up in front of Marciano was fatal, because after the 8-second protection he had him well into the “in fighting” in the short distance. It was another short, powerful and dry right hand that knocked him down until he passed his head between the first and second ropes of the ring. Then there was a moment of confusion during which the Garden seemed to tremble. On the one hand the white world champion retained, on the other the huge Joe Louis left his humanity without reaction outside the ring.
It was this contrast that immortalized the knockout suffered by one of the greatest world champions like Joe Louis. It was impossible to impose a better boxing line against the indestructible Marciano, to whom the blows of his opponents seemed not to harm him like a humanoid robot built to attack until exhaustion, agony and defeat of all his rivals.
3• RAY “SUGAR” ROBINSON TO GENE FULLMER (May 1, 1957 in Chicago)
He was 35 years old and looking for a comeback after two years of having retired. It was after attempting his third world crown, that of the light heavyweights against Joey Maxim who defeated him. This teacher, the best world champion in the middle and middleweight categories, a paradigm of an exquisite style, had in Cassius Clay, Sugar Ray Leonard and Floyd Mayweather (in his beginnings) the best “disciples” in the timeline. Of all of them, only Muhammad Ali managed to overcome it.
The knockout he gave to Gene Fullmer -who had beaten him in the first confrontation- is a masterpiece of technique, strategy and handling of boxing’s fundamental blow: the jab.
It was thus that in the 5th round Fullmer, perhaps the toughest of the middleweights of the time – whom the Argentine Eduardo “El Zurdo” Lausse would have beaten -, could not sustain the martyrdom of that opening jab. The advance was permanent but the knockout was typical of an incomparable master, as he turned the jab (extended blow to take distance) into a tremendous upward hook that hit Fullmer’s jaw until he knocked him down, producing a cerebellar state that prevented him from continuing despite his efforts to stand up without knowing what was happening.
Ray “Sugar” Robinson was the synthesis of beauty in the ring. His turns in a semicircle to achieve the necessary distance, the angle of his feet always well supported and dynamic in attack and retreat, the surgical departure and arrival of his blows plus the handling of his perfect jab made him the second best boxer in history. behind Ali. But if Robinson had not existed, we would not have enjoyed Muhammad Ali, the greatest.
4• CARLOS MONZÓN TO NINO BENVENUTI (November 7, 1970, Rome, Italy, Palazzo dello Sport)
As soon as Benvenuti took refuge on the ropes to get away, Monzón attacked him with the instinctive fierceness of a predator. To win the world title from Nino Benvenuti, he exhibited rare virtues in challengers, such as repressing anxiety, managing forces and maintaining concentration to discover the opportunity to go on the counterattack with the least possible risk.. Monzón warned at the end of the 9th round that the world champion’s breathing was quickening. Having a teacher like Amílcar Brusa in the corner made it easier to read what was happening. If the boxer and his coach coincide in the corner, the strategy achieves a better development. The slogan was to speed up little by little, get closer than two meters to better measure any gap offered to the right cross, not reduce the dynamic action and preserve the angulation of the legs at all costs. With the left knee slightly flexed, he had to move supported on the tip of the foot and the right sole fully supported. In this way, if the desired circumstance were to occur, the cross would be well supported with less travel and more force. Only in the 12th round did that logic occur. Monzón getting closer, more physically whole, more intimidating, more self-confident than his surprised adversary, he generated the knockout with infinite patience and great determination to attack and on Nino’s left lateral exit he collided his right with firm knuckles and perpendicular to full jaw. The significance of that knockout was much more important than the consecration: the best world champion Argentina had in its entire history was born and one of the best five in the world in competition with Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler and Tommy Hearns.
5• MUHAMMAD ALI (CASSIUS CLAY) TO GEORGE FOREMAN (October 30, 1974, Kinsasha, former Zaire, now Republic of the Congo)
Muhammad Ali exercised three stages of dominance: 1st) tactics, to leave him space in the ring from where Foreman would launch himself into the barrage of blows that would always find him backed by the ropes; 2nd) the strategic one, which was to manage the transfer cost to the maximum with the legs and use them only to face forward when leaving the string; and, 3rd) the psychological one, which was to dominate him by talking to him all the time, involving the public to enhance everything that was theirs and silence any success of George, exerting a lot of pressure on juries that, like the older ones, felt the involuntary insomnia of four in the morning in Africa…
The triumph was tremendous. There was just a little more than 20 seconds left for the end of the 8th round. Foreman had tried everything you could try against Ali: attacking him, getting on top of him, hitting him illegally after the break command or below the belt line. But all his initiatives were neutralized by a great Muhammad who boxed, fought and openly offered himself to all exchanges of blows.
There were four rights and two lefts that returned the world crown of all weights to the incomparable Muhammad Ali. And all those games occurred near or on top of the string. The last two rights were the reason for the spectacular knockout: the first collided with a breakout attempt that caught Foreman off guard. It was there that Ali accelerated a final volley with a right hand to the temple that sent Foreman to the canvas.
It was probably the most spectacular knockout between heavyweights that we have seen since the one he gave to Sonny Liston in the 65th -first round- was as a result of a hand that nobody saw, the famous “black hand” of the legend…
6• VICTOR GALINDEZ TO RICHIE KATES (May 22, 1976, Johannesburg, South Africa)
That was the night that Galindez made or fell. He nearly went under in the third round when the injury to his left eyebrow caused unstoppable bleeding. He could have ended with a deadpan disqualification win or a lapidary points loss. It was a triumph in the best style of the great champions because after the 10th round the real rival was the wound and not Kates, who wobbly and absolutely “groggy”, returned to the corner at the end of the 9th, grabbing the ropes with no strength in his fists or in his heart.
Any other boxer could well speculate with the public and with the cards in favor. Maybe he would have taken the opportunity to handle the fight and not risk fighting by taking risks. Galíndez, on the other hand, with his last energies, continued to play for the knockout. It could have been in the 10th after a hook to the liver combined with a right cross to the head; he could have been the 14th with a lower left uppercut. It was in the 15th at a time when everyone is playing, looking at the clock, looking to tie up to finish or walk backwards dancing to impress the judges by showing that they are in good physical condition. Galíndez rehearsed on the end a blow that he had practiced a lot in recent months: the direct left from the bottom up. A long-distance blow that goes with the load of the shoulder, the support of the left foot, the accompaniment of the torso and totally loose like someone hitting something nearby walking down the street. Thus he took Kates in the definition, projecting as someone who throws the lax hand to take distances. She reached the chin fully and Kates fell backwards covering the entire dimension of her body with closed eyes, labored breathing, arms crossed, mouth ajar and a complaining gesture.
He had won by knockout. Referee Stanley Christodolou’s shirt completely stained by Galindez’s blood is on display at the South African Boxing Museum.
7• “SUGAR” RAY LEONARD TO THOMAS HEARNS (September 16, 1981, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada)
A boxing classic from the golden decade of the 80s. A time in which Roberto “Mano de Piedra” Durán and Marvin Hagler were also unforgettable protagonists.
In this fight Leonard beat Hearns by knockout in the 14th round decided by referee David Peral after two counts against Tommy Hearns.
Leonard’s triumph (25 years old) meant many things: a) you can be distinguished and handsome at the same time, b) you can box academically and at one point go from an exquisite boxer to an open fighter.
It was so that in the framework of a high-tech combat, the alternative of playing was produced and both did it. It was the greater speed in the short distance that allowed Leonard to get fourteen straight shots from the entire orthodox range forcing Hearns to respond by backing up. The first account heralded the end. However, Tommy (22 years old) hit four highly accurate replicas without moving a great Leonard.
That night at Caesars Palace we lived and enjoyed one of the most dramatic fights in history. It was sublime. Just like the rematch played eight years later and which marked a fair draw after an unforgettable fight.
8• MARVIN HAGLER TO THOMAS HEARNS (April 15, 1985, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada)
It was called “The war”. And it was that. Unexpectedly Marvin Hagler, as soon as the bell rang to start the fight, came out to attack like he had never done before. This surprised us all and especially Tommy, who had another plan and had to assume the counterattack as the only strategy of the fight. They were three indelible assaults. Hagler on the attack and Hearns responding blow by blow but with an awkward tactical position. The downloads of Hagler (WBA, WBC and The Ring middleweight world champion) were so decisive and violent that Hearns (WBC and The Ring light middleweight world champion) found himself with a fight the opposite of what was planned. And put to fight he received a right that forced him to back away from Hagler. Just as if it were happening on the street, Marvin ran him over and planting his right hand – despite being southpaw – on the left cheekbone managed to knock Hearns down and he fell flat on his back. Richard Steele’s count went all the way to the out even though Tommy struggled to get to his feet.
It was an unforgettable fight due to the high level of precision and fairness of the blows thrown with successful arrival. Probably one of the most exciting and dramatic in the history of world boxing. Unforgettable.
9• MIKE TYSON TO MICHAEL SPINKS (June 27, 1988 at Broadwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey)
The blows that Tyson sent made a sound perceived like that of the first rows of any ring side. No one broadcasting a fight of his would fail to notice it. Obviously I say this from personal experience. And this was no exception. Tyson had 30 knockouts in 34 fights when he met Michael Spinks for the title, winner and loser to Muhammad Ali in back-and-forth fights.
He only needed two well-placed right hands. The first to Spinks’ left intercostal that caused him the first fall with an account. And when they met again, this time in the center of the ring, a hook to the jaw ended Spinks’ hopes.
The impact was clear and tremendous. The fight lasted 91 seconds; Tyson threw 19 punches and pocketed $20 million at a rate of one million fifty thousand dollars a punch.
10• JORGE “ROÑA” CASTRO TO JOHN DAVID JACKSON (December 8, 1994, Monterrey Baseball Stadium, Mexico)
What Jorge Fernando produced Locomotive Castro that night was epic. It’s that he was losing the fight and his world title against John David Jackson overwhelmingly. The 9th round was passing and inevitably his middleweight crown (WBA) would cease to belong to him to pass to his qualified rival. However, there would have to be a movie script event: Jackson hit him with a left to the chin that Castro felt and backed up until he found refuge and sustenance in the string. It was there that Jackson sought the finishing touch to his task by crossing a right hand while the Argentine, exhausted, battered, wounded and bleeding, took the only and last blow available from his few forces, the left to the American’s jaw. His fall was backwards and although referee Stanley Christodolou told him indulgently and slowly, his getting to his feet was just a last resort to fall for the third and last time.; Castro, who was irreversibly losing the fight by points, managed to save his crown with a knockout that is remembered in the boxing universe as the best of that year 94 and one of the best in history.