By Keith Idec
One of them was getting knocked out.
That was the consensus when the David Lemieux-Curtis Stevens fight was announced nearly a year ago. The middleweight contenders possess plenty of power and both had been stopped multiple times, including a technical knockout defeat apiece to middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin.
Montreal’s Lemieux (38-4, 33 KOs) and Brooklyn’s Stevens (29-6, 21 KOs) each experienced encouraging moments early in their back-and-forth fight, but it was Lemieux that delivered an unforgettable blow in the third round that produced BoxingScene.com’s “Knockout of the Year” for 2017. Lemieux landed a brutal left hook that beat Stevens to the punch and knocked him unconscious March 11 in Verona, New York.
Stevens lost consciousness for several seconds as he was sprawled out beneath a bottom rope, hanging halfway off the ring apron at Turning Stone Resort Casino. He was removed from the arena on a stretcher, but didn’t sustain any permanent damage from that devastating defeat.
Here is a link to watch Lemieux’s spectacular knockout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBDiXMTr360.
RUNNERS-UP FOR BOXINGSCENE.COM “KNOCKOUT OF THE YEAR” (IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER)
MIKEY GARCIA-DEJAN ZLATICANIN: Garcia landed a right uppercut and a left hand that moved Zlaticanin into a very vulnerable position, which led to this vicious knockout January 28 in Las Vegas.
Garcia got full extension on a perfectly placed right hand as an off-balance Zlaticanin attempted to reposition himself in the third round. That punch knocked Zlaticanin unconscious, under the bottom rope, and referee Tony Weeks waved an immediate end to their scheduled 12-round fight for Zlaticanin’s WBC lightweight title at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Zlaticanin (23-1, 16 KOs) hadn’t been knocked down before Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs) drilled him with that shot.
LUIS COLLAZO-SAMMY VASQUEZ: Collazo was bleeding badly from a cut over his right eye and had been buzzed before quickly connecting with a counter right hook that put Vasquez to sleep in the sixth round of their February 2 fight in Tunica, Mississippi.
A concussed Vasquez felt flat on his side and was motionless when referee Bill Clancy called a halt to a welterweight fight that was scheduled for 10 rounds at Horseshoe Casino. Collazo (37-7, 20 KOs) previously floored Vasquez (21-2, 15 KOs) with a right hook in the third round.
JERMELL CHARLO-CHARLES HATLEY: Charlo silenced the trash-talking Hatley the best way he knew how when he hammered a completely exposed Hatley with an overhand right to his chin that dumped his overpowered opponent face-first on the canvas, beneath a bottom rope April 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Referee Harvey Dock immediately realized Hatley (26-2-1, 18 KOs) was unconscious and halted their mandatory 12-round fight for Charlo’s WBC super welterweight title in the sixth round. This was the first of two highlight-reel knockouts Charlo (30-0, 15 KOs) produced this year.
RAY BELTRAN-JONATHAN MAICELO: Beltran blasted Maicelo with a left hook to the center of his face, which knocked Maicelo unconscious before he fell flat on his back May 20 at Madison Square Garden.
Maicelo (26-3, 13 KOs) had some success before Beltran knocked him out in the second round of their 12-round lightweight fight. An accidental head-butt sent Beltran (34-7-1, 21 KOs, 1 NC) to the canvas in the first round, which referee David Fields counted as a knockdown.
HUGO CENTENO JR.-IMMANUWEL ALEEM: Centeno got great leverage on a sneaky left hook that clipped Aleem right on his chin August 25 at Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Oklahoma.
Aleem (17-1-1, 10 KOs) fell like a chopped tree and landed flat on his back. He tried to get up, but couldn’t, and referee Gerald Ritter declared Centeno (26-1, 14 KOs, 1 NC) the winner of their 10-round middleweight match at 2:27 of the third round.
SRISAKET SOR RUNGVISAI-ROMAN GONZALEZ: After upsetting Gonzalez by majority decision in their closely contested first fight March 18 at Madison Square Garden, Sor Rungvisai left no doubt about who won their rematch.
Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1, 40 KOs) knocked down Gonzalez (46-2, 38 KOs) twice in the fourth round of their second fight for the WBC super flyweight title September 9. He finished off the former pound-for-pound king with a punishing right hook that sent a battered Gonzalez flat on his back at StubHub Center in Carson, California.
YUNIER DORTICOS-DMITRY KUDRYASHOV: The stunned expression on Kudryashov’s face after he hit the canvas from Dorticos’ right hand to the side of his head told the entire story September 23 in San Antonio.
The hard-hitting cruiserweight contender made it to his feet, but referee Rafael Ramos didn’t like what he saw from Kudryashov (21-2, 21 KOs) and ended their fight in the second round at the Alamodome. Dorticos (22-0, 21 KOs), the WBA champion, advanced to the semifinals of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament, in which he’ll battle IBF champ Murat Gassiev (25-0, 18 KOs) on February 3 in Adler, Russia.
JERMELL CHARLO-ERICKSON LUBIN: Charlo stunningly surpassed his crushing knockout of Hatley 5½ months earlier when he returned to Barclays Center and needed only two minutes and 41 seconds to brutalize Lubin.
The left-handed Lubin left himself open as he bent over, with his right hand down. Charlo capitalized by blasting the previously unbeaten Lubin (18-1, 13 KOs) with an overhand right that connected cleanly to Lubin’s jaw and enabled him to retain his WBC 154-pound championship.
Lubin attempted to reach his feet, but he was disoriented and referee Harvey Dock ended their fight with 19 seconds to go in the first round October 14.
DEONTAY WILDER-BERMANE STIVERNE: Wilder overwhelmed Stiverne in the first round of their WBC-mandated rematch November 4 at Barclays Center.
The unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion unleashed all of his frustration on the 39-year-old Stiverne, who was the only one of Wilder’s first 38 opponents to go the distance with him. Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs) dropped Stiverne (25-3-1, 21 KOs) three times within a 48-second span late in the first round and viciously finished off the former champion with a left-right-left combination that awkwardly dumped a devastated Stiverne to his knees and into the ropes.
ZOLANI TETE-SIBONISO GONYA: Tete tattooed Gonya with a quick right hook that knocked him unconscious November 18 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Tete’s astounding 11-second knockout is believed to be the fastest knockout in a world title fight in boxing history. Before Tete (26-3, 21 KOs) made a stunningly easy defense of his WBO bantamweight title against Gonya (11-2, 5 KOs), the quickest knockout in a world title on record was Daniel Jimenez’s 17-second stoppage of Harald Grier in their WBO bantamweight championship match in September 1994.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.