The most brutal knockouts in boxing history

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July 6th, 2020

A violent knockout can be as beautiful as it is frightening. The sudden stop of action from a home-run shot can burn into a fight fan's retinas and can give even the most middling fighters a legendary moment.

These are five of the most devastating knockouts in boxing history.

Gerry Cooney vs. Ken Norton

Cooney was taking a major step up in class against a faded Norton, but Cooney’s blunt power — combined with Norton’s historically shaky chin — made for one of the most frightening stoppages of the 1980s.

Just 54 seconds into the first round, Cooney cornered the former heavyweight champion and rained down a series of shots that left Norton immobile long before the referee came in to stop the beating.

Sergio Martinez vs. Paul Williams II

Many expected Martinez and Williams to resume the hostilities carried over from their underrated classic that Williams narrowly won, but Martinez had other plans.

Martinez was more mindful of Williams’ range and began to time him with counters. In the second round, Martinez landed a beauty of a left hand that separated the iron-chinned Williams from reality.

Darnell Wilson vs. Emmanuel Nwodo

Aside from an amazing ring name ("Ding A Ling Man"), Wilson was just another fish in the pond, but his KO victory over Nwodo put him on the map.

This showdown between the two cruiserweight journeymen culminated in one of the best knockouts in the history of ESPN's Friday Night Fights. After he rocked Nwodo and battered him around the ring, Wilson uncorked Nwodo with a left hook so powerful that the impact was clearly audible in the live recording. Nwodo practically folded into himself as a result of the crushing blow.

Derrick Jefferson vs. Maurice Harris

Jefferson’s obliteration of Harris made HBO analyst Larry Merchant shout “Derrick Jefferson, I love you!”

Harris came on strong in the sixth round, and Jefferson found an opportunity to clobber him with a huge left hook, as Harris leaned in unguarded. The initial impact left Harris motionless, even before he went down. This incredible stoppage was Ring Magazine’s knockout of the year in 1999.

Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Manny Pacquiao IV

After three nip-and-tuck clashes, Marquez finally settled the score with Pacquiao when he scored the knockout heard round the world.

Marquez opted to slug it out instead of boxing Pacquiao. Marquez had a stoppage on his mind to avoid yet another controversial decision. Six rounds into the best fight of their rivalry, Pacquiao charged into a stumbling Marquez, but Marquez unleashed a booming right hand that sent the Filipino legend down face first.