By Cliff Rold
When a supreme boxer puts on a clinic, fans can appreciate it. At the end of twelve masterful rounds, they may stand and cheer and clap and holler.
Very rarely will a scientific dissection have people standing on their chairs, mouths agape, emitting sounds of awe they didn’t know they could muster.
That reaction is reserved for the knockout.
No matter how refined the taste, it is the knockout that remains boxing’s biggest draw. People who score more of them have a faster ride to the top. Knockouts put butts in the seats.
Announcers introduce a fighter by telling the viewing audience how many wins, losses, and draws a fighter has picked up. Saved for last is the knockout.
The number of unanimous decisions a fighter has collected?
Have to look that one up.
No one delivers the knockouts like the Heavyweights and this year the big boys came through with some finishing gems. None impressed us here more than a left hand bomb in October.
2014 Knockout of the Year: Alexander Povetkin KO10 Carlos Takam
Anyone who wondered why, when he wasn’t putting him on the deck, World Heavyweight Champion Wladimir Klitschko pent so much time draped over the back of Alexander Povetkin in 2013 got an answer in this one.
Povetkin (28-1, 20 KO), the 2004 Olympic Super Heavyweight Gold Medalist from Russia, took a soft landing return bout against Manuel Charr early in the year and then went looking to get back into serious contention. Takam (30-2-1, 23 KO) entered unbeaten since 2009 and never stopped. A disputed draw against Mike Perez and decision over Tony Thompson marked him a rising light at Heavyweight.
Povetkin turned the lights out in the tenth. After scoring a knockdown the previous round, Povetkin caught Takam with a solid right. Takam took that shot. The left hook that followed moments later was the sort of perfect, short, sweet shot that forces a rewind to be sure that’s what landed. Takam went flat to his back and referee Kenny Bayless could have counted to 100.
Povetkin left with the best finish of his career, his best win since Eddie Chambers in 2008, and the best knockout of the year.
Runner-Up: Amir Manour KO7 Fred Kassi
Returning from his first loss earlier in the year to former Cruiserweight titlist Steve Cunningham, Mansour (21-1, 16 KO) made a violent statement that the 42-year old still has plenty to make people worry in November. Dominating the fight, Mansour backed Kassi (18-3, 10 KO) into the ropes and was working his man over. Inside the final minute, he uncorked a right hand bomb and Kassi all but melted forward into the floor. There was no need to count. There was plenty of reason to look forward to the next time Mansour is in the ring.
OTHERS RECEIVING CONSIDERATION (By Date)
Marvin Sonsona KO3 Akifumi Shimoda: In the icy days of February, the former 122 lb. beltholder Shimoda (28-4-2, 12 KO) was fittingly knocked cold in this Featherweight outing. Coming forward towards Sonsona (19-1-1, 15 KO), Shimoda ate a brutal left uppercut and that was all she wrote. Sonsona, a former 115 lb. titlist, was a step towards contention in a new class.
Viktor Postol KO11 Selcuk Aydin: Postol (26-0, 11 KO) took a big step towards a mandatory title shot at 140 lbs. with this beat down. Aydin (26-3, 19 KO) had never been stopped. He’d never been caught with an uppercut like Postol landed to change that distinction.
Carl Froch TKO8 George Groves: In terms of attendance, the biggest fight of the year came complete with one of the best endings in May. Battling tough for the second time, the unified Super Middleweight titlist Froch (33-2, 24 KO) drilled Groves (21-2, 16 KO) with a right hand near the ropes, folding one of Groves’ legs beneath him and prompting an immediate halt to their rivalry.
Andy Lee KO5 John Jackson: The former Olympian Lee (34-2, 24 KO), came off the floor, saved his career, and set the stage for a Middleweight belt win later in the year with a vicious June right hand. Jackson (19-2, 15 KO) never saw it coming as he charged forward, suffering the fate many a man did against his father, Julian Jackson.
Roman Gonzalez KO9 Akira Yaegashi: The best little man in the world had one of his finest hours in September. Gonzalez (41-0, 35 KO) steadily ground down the valiant Yaegashi (20-5, 10 KO), dropping him in the third and raking him to the body and head throughout. Still firing back, a weary Yaegashi took a left that stole his legs and Gonzalez was still firing as he toppled to the corner. Yaegashi attempted to rise but the referee stepped in to save him. Gonzalez was the lineal Flyweight king and the first man to stop Yaegashi in an almost ten-year career.
Orlando Salido KO11 Terdsak Kokietgym: After they had already given fans six knockdowns, their was really only one way it could end. Salido (42-12-2, 29 KO) had taken over the fight by the mid-point, but Kokietgym (54-5-1, 34 KO) stayed in there. A final right hand and left hook drilled the game Thai into the mat. The referee didn't need to count.
Nicholas Walters TKO6 Nonito Donaire: Rocked hard in the second, Walters (25-0, 21 KO) came roaring back in this memorable October Featherweight affair. He dropped the reigning WBA titlist Donaire (33-3, 21 KO) in the third and took over the fight. In the sixth, Walters dropped a right behind the ear of Donaire and sent the four-division titlist careening face first towards the floor. Donaire struggled off the floor but was in no shape to go on.
Wladimir Klitschko KO5 Kubrat Pulev: There might be a better puncher pound-for-pound, but in the real world the most devastating puncher around remains the sports Heavyweight king. When he fights like this, it’s downright scary what he’s still capable of at 38. Pulev (20-1, 11 KO) was a legitimate contender and perceived by many as a threat.
Pulev pissed Klitschko off well before the opening bell. Klitschko (63-3, 53 KO) pissed off was a joy to watch in November. After scoring multiple knockdowns in a fast-paced fight for modern Heavyweights, Klitschko ended Pulev with a single lead left hook. Pulev went straight back like a statue and Klitschko had something extra to celebrate on the eve of becoming a father for the first time.
Fedor Chudinov KO2 Ben McCullough: Exchanging at center ring in December, the rising Russian Super Middleweight (12-0, 10 KO) caught McCullough with a right hand that whipped his head back so hard it looked like it might pop off. Fight. Over.
BOXINGSCENE.COM 2014 AWARDS SEASON
Network of the Year: HBO
Comeback of the Year: Rocky Juarez
Prospect of the Year: Anthony Joshua
Event of the Year: Mayweather/NSAC
Fighter of the Year: Naoya Inoue
Knockout of the Year: Alexander Povetkin KO10 Carlos Takam
Round of the Year: To be announced Friday, January 2nd (along with Robbery of the Year)
Robbery of the Year: To be announced Friday, January 2nd (along with Round of the Year)
Event of the Year: To be announced Saturday, January 3rd
Fighter of the Year: To be announced Sunday, January 4th
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]