The most shocking knockouts in boxing history

Profile Picture: Danny Howard

Danny Howard

May 12th, 2021

There are few things in sports more electrifying than a knockout, especially when it's delivered by a massive underdog. We've examined dozens of title fights and watched hundreds of hours of footage to find the five most shocking knockouts in boxing history. Each one of these devastating blows changed the course of history for the fighters involved.

5. George Foreman destroys Joe Frazier

After Joe Frazier defeated Muhammad Ali in the "Fight of the Century," it seemed all but certain Frazier would continue his reign as champion ahead of an inevitable rematch. However, fate had other plans when Frazier fought George Foreman in 1973.

On that night, Foreman doled out one of the most frightening beatings in boxing history in under six minutes. The legendary Howard Cossell was beside himself, shouting "Down goes Frazier" while witnessing the savage performance. 

4. Shane Mosley plasters Antonio Margarito

Just moments before Antonio Margarito’s title defense against Shane Mosley in 2009, it was revealed that a plaster-like substance was found in Margarito’s hand wraps and was immediately confiscated by California state officials.

Margarito’s pathetic attempt at cheating resulted in swift justice from Mosley, who demolished the iron-chinned Margarito in the ninth round for one of the signature wins of his legendary career.

3. Julio Cesar Chavez’s miracle KO

The 12 rounds of hell that was Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Meldrick Taylor in 1990 was defined by just two seconds. Though Taylor was getting the worst of Chavez’s pressure, he had banked enough early rounds where he just needed to stay on his feet to win a decision.

Chavez finally sent an exhausted Taylor to the canvas, but even as he rose to answer the count, referee Richard Steele inexplicably stopped the fight with two seconds to go in the last round. It was an incredible ending to one of the best fights of the 1990s.

2. Juan Manuel Marquez finally overcomes Manny Pacquiao

In the fourth and final chapter of the Pacquiao/Marquez saga in 2012, neither fighter was leaving anything to chance. The usually methodical Marquez was taking the fight to Pacquiao, even dropping him in the third before getting dropped himself in the ensuing rounds.

As Pacquiao started to overwhelm Marquez in the sixth, it was Marquez who landed the mother of all counter punches that gave Pacquiao an out-of-body experience. The sight of a limp Pacquiao on the canvas remains one of the most shocking moments of the last 20 years.

1. Buster Douglas shocks the world

Buster Douglas had no doubt in his mind that he was going to knockout "Iron" Mike Tyson when the two met in Tokyo in 1990, but the manner of his triumph is still stunning to this day. Weathering Tyson’s best shots and displaying a sense of determination never seen before in his career, Douglas laid into Tyson and wore him down with big shots until he finally dropped him in the 11th round.

The pathetic sight of Tyson on the ground sprawling for his mouthpiece while being counted out remains one of boxing’s most shocking endings.