By Matt Bozeat
50) MICHAEL BENTT v TOMMY MORRISON
October 29, 1993
Morrison decided beating up Michael Bentt would be a good way to sharpen his tools before fighting Lennox Lewis for his heavyweight belts. The opening minute went as planned with Bentt being dazed and driven to the ropes. The moment Morrison stopped punching, however, Bentt hit him back with a right to the chin and the fight changed. Morrison was stunned and Bentt went on to drop him three times and stop him in 93 seconds.
49) MIKE TYSON v REGGIE GROSS
June 13, 1986
Gross threw the kitchen sink at Tyson in the opening round. He landed a punch and then opened up, aiming 20 punches at Tyson, landing a couple, but missing most as Tyson twisted his upper body one way then the other. Gross paused for a split second before throwing his next one and Tyson pounced. He needed only one punch, a left hook. Gross landed on his back, got up and was dropped again before it was waved off.
48) CHARLEY MITCHELL v JOHN L SULLIVAN
May 14, 1883
As Sullivan remembered in his autobiography, Mitchell was sent from England – Birmingham to be exact – “to knock out the Boston giant.”
Mitchell did the unthinkable in the first and put Sullivan on the canvas with what was described as “a short right hand to the face.” Sullivan would always insist he had been caught off balance and said he “got up immediately and went at him like a bull at a red rag.” Officials jumped into the ring to pull Sullivan off Mitchell in the third.
47) TYSON FURY v DILLIAN WHYTE
April 23, 2022
There were 94,000 fans at Wembley Stadium and Fury gave them the exclamation mark finish they wanted by detonating a right uppercut on Whyte’s chin in the sixth.
Whyte got up on very shaky legs and referee Mark Lyson agreed with Fury that the fight had to be stopped.
46) SUGAR RAY LEONARD v MARVIN HAGLER
April 6, 1987
Seven years earlier, Leonard had wound up a bolo punch against Roberto Duran in their rematch and not thrown it.
Against Hagler, he let it go in the fourth round. The right uppercut appeared to land a shade low, but there were no complaints from Hagler. He was more vocal at the end, after two of the judges scored for Leonard.
45) ROBERTO DURAN v KEN BUCHANAN
June 26, 1972
The record books should really state that Buchanan kept his WBA lightweight championship at Madison Square. Duran really should have been disqualified for driving a right into the Scot’s groin after the bell to end the 13th round. Such was his pain, Buchanan had to be half carried back to his corner, but Duran went unpunished by referee Johnny LoBianco and Buchanan lost his world title because he was unable to continue. “Every time I think of Duran,” Buchanan said later, “my balls hurt.”
44) FLOYD MAYWEATHER v JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ
September 19, 2009
Out of the ring for 21 months, Mayweather soon got his boxing brain working again. Marquez decided the best way to deal with the hard stabs Mayweather aimed at his body was to deflect them with his right arm. Mayweather noticed and, in the second, he shaped to jab at the Mexican’s body and then turned his punch into a left hook at his jaw. The punch connected, sending Marquez to the canvas for a short count. Mayweather went on to win on points.
43) NAOYA INOUE v NONITO DONAIRE
November 7, 2019
Only Donaire knows how he got up after Inoue ripped a left hook into his liver in the 11th round of 2019’s best fight. Donaire took a couple of steps back hoping the pain would ease – and it didn’t. He went down for 9 and ¾ and went on to lose on points.
42) DEONTAY WILDER v TYSON FURY
December 1, 2018
Wilder spent all night trying to find Fury’s chin with his right hand. When he connected in the 12th round, Fury landed flat on his back, taking a left hook on his way to the canvas. The fight wasn’t over. Rather, one of the great rounds in heavyweight history was about to ignite. Fury won the rest of the round and was then denied victory on the scorecards, Wilder keeping his belt with a draw.
41) SUGAR RAY LEONARD v ROBERTO DURAN
November 25, 1980
Five months after brawling with Duran and losing on points, Leonard took a different approach to the rematch.
This time, he would box Duran and he found it suited him better.
Leonard started to toy with ‘Hands of Stone’ in the seventh. He wound his right arm round and round like a windmill, but rather than land the bolo punch as suggested, Leonard stuck a fast left jab in Duran’s face.
Duran was humiliated and the following round, he turned away and refused to carry on fighting.
40) RICKY HATTON v KOSTYA TSZYU
June 4, 2005
Hatton had been put on his knees in the seventh by a low blow and was given time to recover from another in the ninth. Referee Dave Parris waved them together and Hatton fired a left hand to the champion’s groin, leaving him on the floor in agony. “It was very important,” recalled Hatton. “I didn’t want to show any weakness.” He battered Tszyu throughout the 10th and 11th and he didn’t come out for the last.
39) MICKY WARD v ARTURO GATTI
May 18, 2002
Say ‘Round Nine’ to any boxing fan and they will know the subject is the first Ward-Gatti fight.
After ending the eighth under fire, Gatti was dropped early in the next by a left hook to the liver, Ward’s trademark punch. It was the catalyst for one of the greatest rounds in history. Gatti got up, survived the subsequent onslaught before mounting his own. The final twist in an unforgettable three minutes came when Ward landed a right hand to Gatti’s jaw.
38) BERNARD HOPKINS v OSCAR DE LA HOYA
September 18, 2004
“He caught me right on the button,” was how de la Hoya described the short left hook to the body that left him writhing in agony on the canvas in the ninth round in Las Vegas. “Believe me, I tried getting up, but I couldn’t.” Some still don’t believe him to this day.
37) LENNOX LEWIS v MIKE TYSON
June 8, 2002
Lewis waited years to get his hands on Tyson and when they finally met, he outboxed him, beat him up and then laid him out with a sweeping right hand in the eighth round.
36) DONALD CURRY v MILTON McCRORY
December 6, 1985
The argument over who was the world’s best welterweight was effectively ended when Curry landed a brilliant left hook on McCrory’s chin midway through the second round, sweeping him off his feet and taking his senses. McCrory got up but Curry needed only one more punch, a right hand to the jaw.
35) FRANK BRUNO v MIKE TYSON
February 25, 1989
The punch that got a nation out of their seats. On the 25th anniversary of Cassius Clay stunning Sonny Liston, Bruno faced similar odds in Las Vegas. There was a lot of money bet on Bruno not lasting a round and it looked a decent investment after Tyson dropped him in the opening seconds. Bruno got up, hung on so desperately he was docked a point and then punched with Tyson, landing a left hook that buzzed the champion. “He’s hurt Tyson!” screamed BBC commentator Harry Carpenter. “Get in there Frank!”
34) JOE CALZAGHE v CHRIS EUBANK
October 11, 1997
Eubank was having his 22nd world-title fight, Calzaghe his 23rd pro fight.
Was the Welshman ready? He took all of 20 seconds to answer. Calzaghe banged the Brighton eccentric with a southpaw left, sending him to the canvas for only the fifth time in his 49-fight career. Eubank quickly scrambled to his feet, looked over at Calzaghe and nodded in appreciation. “I remember thinking: ‘It looks like a long night,’” said Joe, who went on to win on points.
33) RICKY HATTON v JOSE LUIS CASTILLO
June 23, 2007
“I moved him into position and got all my weight behind it,” remembered Hatton of his fourth-round, body shot KO. “If he’d have got up, I’d have jumped out!”
32) BARRY McGUIGAN v EUSEBIO PEDROZA
June 8, 1985
Pedroza was making his 20th defence of his WBA featherweight title and McGuigan tore into him. In the seventh, McGuigan found the Panamanian’s jaw with a sweeping right and dropped him. “That was the moment when I knew the fight was mine,” said McGuigan. “That only doing something absolutely stupid would stop me from winning the title.”
McGuigan kept himself together and won on points over 15 rounds.
31) TEOFILO STEVENSON v DUANE BOBICK
September 5, 1972
THE sight of American hope Bobick hugging the canvas after 20-year-old Cuban Stevenson dropped him with a long right signalled the start of a new era in amateur boxing. Bobick had won his previous 60 bouts – including a victory over Stevenson at the previous year’s Panamerican Games – but the Cuban flattened him in Munich on his way to the first of three Olympic golds.
30) OLIVER MCCALL v LENNOX LEWIS
September 24, 1994
The bookmakers had McCall at a long 5/1 and Lewis got careless, wandering into the path of a right-hand haymaker that replays showed McCall slung with his eyes closed. The result was shocking. Lewis went down and though he struggled to his feet, he was shaky and the referee waved the fight off. It taught Lewis, who joined Emanuel Steward afterwards, a valuable lesson.
29) SERGIO MARTINEZ v PAUL WILLIAMS II
November 20, 2011
Martinez and Williams both put everything into their own southpaw left hands. Only Martinez’s hit the target. Williams was overheard saying to paramedics minutes after he had been peeled off the canvas: “I got hit by a punch?”
28) THOMAS HEARNS v ROBERTO DURAN
June 15, 1984
In 82 previous fights, Duran had only been dropped once, by Esteban De Jesus more than a decade before he went toe to toe with ‘The Hitman.’ Hearns had him down twice in the first and finished ‘Hands of Stone’ with a right to the jaw in the second that left him flat on his face.
27) JULIAN JACKSON v HEROL GRAHAM
November 24, 1990
Graham’s name will forever feature in lists of best British fighters to never win a world title.
Blame Julian Jackson’s right hand for that. Graham was well on the way to beating the Virgin Islander for the vacant WBC middleweight title before having his lights turned out in one of the most famous finishes of all time.
26) ANDY RUIZ v ANTHONY JOSHUA
June 1, 2019
There are those who say that, more than four years on, Joshua still hasn’t recovered from the punch Ruiz landed in the third round.
AJ dropped him for ‘six’ and when he went for the finish, Ruiz punched with him. Ruiz found his temple with a left hook that changed the fight and stunned all inside Madison Square Garden. Joshua lost control of his legs and never recovered. Ruiz dropped him three more times before the seventh-round finish.
25) TONY GALENTO v JOE LOUIS
June 28, 1939
Short, fat and balding ‘Two Ton Tony’ – given his nickname in recognition of his day job as an iceman – put all his weight into a third-round left hook and it connected with a stunning shot that awoke the champion – but not before flooring him.
Legend has it, ringsiders claimed Louis’ feet left the floor before he landed. He was up quickly – before the referee had even started to count – and went on to punish Galento and stop him in the next.
24) ANTHONY JOSHUA v WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO
April 29, 2017
After flooring Klitschko in the fifth and then finding himself on the deck himself in the sixth, Joshua needed something special to regain control after losing his way in rounds seven and eight.
In the 11th, Joshua missed with a right and then a left hook in the 11th.
The only punch he could throw next was a right uppercut – and it landed, cinematically and with tremendous force, knocking him dizzy. It was the shot that all but ended the fight.
23) JOE LOUIS v BILLY CONN
June 18, 1941
The instructions to Louis from his corner before the 13th round were straightforward enough. He had to knock out Conn to keep his world heavyweight championship. He found the punch he was looking for after two minutes of the round, a right uppercut staggering Conn. This time, Conn couldn’t find a response and Louis kept punching to drop him for the full count.
22) JAMES TONEY v MICHAEL NUNN
May 10, 1991
Nunn was 36-0 and heading for a superfight with Sugar Ray Leonard after they exchanged words in a nightclub. After 10 rounds, Nunn was well on the way to beating Toney, leading by eight, six and four rounds on the judges’ scorecards. In the 11th, Toney crashed a left hook off Nunn’s jaw, dropping him heavily. Nunn somehow dragged himself up but was soon dropped again and stopped.
21) JOE LOUIS v MAX SCHMELING
June 22, 1938
The deciding punch in their first fight two years earlier had been Schmeling’s right hand. He dropped Louis in the fourth with it and went on to stop him in the 12th. They met again with Louis the champion and the world on the brink of War. Louis edged Schmeling back to the ropes and smashed a right off his jaw that had the German reaching for the top rope to stay on his feet. Schmeling hung on to the rope with his back turned to Louis – and the champion kept punching. In the end, one of the most anticipated fights of them all lasted just 124 seconds.
20) GEORGE GROVES v CARL FROCH
November 23, 2013
Groves spent the weeks before the fight teasing the proud champion and even warning Froch he would be on the wrong end of a right hand in the opening round.
That’s exactly what happened – and to the bewilderment of ringsiders, the rock-chinned Froch went down heavily. That one shot was largely responsible for one of British boxing history’s most fierce rivalries.
19) MUHAMMAD ALI v SONNY LISTON
May 25, 1965
ARGUABLY the most famous punch of all time was called by referee Jersey Joe Walcott as “one of the most devastating punches I’ve ever seen.” Yet it will forever be known as the ‘phantom punch’ because few in the arena saw it land. Even replays today don’t back up Walcott’s view. No matter, whatever the truth, the shot that Ali landed on Liston was followed by the most iconic image in history, as the champion screamed for the fallen former king to get up.
18) JULIO CESAR CHAVEZ v MELDRICK TAYLOR
March 17, 1990
After 68 wins, the Mexican legend found himself seconds away from defeat. Going into the last, Taylor led by five and seven point leads on two of the judges’ scorecards. His nose and mouth were bloodied and there was damage around both eyes, but if stayed on his feet for three minutes, Taylor would win. With 17 seconds to go, Chavez smashed him to the canvas with a right to the jaw. With two seconds to go, the fight was over.
17) MARVIN HAGLER v THOMAS HEARNS
April 15, 1985
After the most famous opening round of them all, Hagler was left with a cut on his forehead that was widened in the third by Hearns’ jab. Referee Richard Steele stopped the fight and asked the doctor to look at the injury. Upon resumption, Hagler smashed a savage right off his rival’s cheek that left Hearns defenceless. Two blows later, it was all over.
16) BOB FITZSIMMONS v JAMES J CORBETT
March 17, 1897
Fitzsimmons survived a sixth-round knockdown and started to get on top. In the 13th round, Fitzsimmons landed a right hand to Corbett’s jaw and then shaped to throw another. Corbett brought his hands up, leaving his body exposed and Fitzsimmons drove a short left into the gap. “How do you like the view from there, you son-of-a-bitch?” Bob reportedly snorted at Corbett as he scrambled for air.
15) LENNOX LEWIS V DONOVAN ‘RAZOR’ RUDDOCK
October 31, 1992
“Every time Ruddock threw a jab to the body, he would leave his head exposed, just for a split second, to a right hand,” recalled Lewis of his pre-fight homework. In the first round, Lewis took aim at the exposed head of Ruddock and dropped him heavily. The Briton went on to become the leading heavyweight of the decade.
14) DANNY WILLIAMS v MARK POTTER
October 21, 2000
With his right arm all but useless and hanging by his side due to a shoulder injury, Williams – behind on points – needed a miracle against Potter. It came in the sixth when a left uppercut sent Potter crashing. The shot dramatically changed the course of the contest that saw Williams claim the British heavyweight title.
13) IRAN BARKLEY v THOMAS HEARNS
June 6, 1988
FOR six minutes, Hearns punished huge underdog Barkley, leaving him cut under his left eyebrow and his mouth dripping blood. In the third, Barkley lashed out desperately with a right hand. Hearns, thinking he was on the brink of victory himself, moved into the path of the punch, heightening the effect. The fight was as good as over.
12) JORGE CASTRO v JOHN DAVID JACKSON
December 12, 1994
Referee Stanley Christodoulou was on the brink of rescuing Castro after he’d taken a pounding for eight rounds and two minutes that left him bloodied and swollen. Then what Castro called ‘The Hand of God’ came to his rescue. Castro swung a right that missed by inches, came back with a left – and Jackson hit the canvas. Castro dropped him twice more and it was over.
11) EARNIE SHAVERS v LARRY HOLMES
September 28, 1979
One of the defining moments in Holmes’ career came after Shavers smashed him on the jaw with a right hand piledriver in the seventh. The champion, who had outpointed Shavers 18 months earlier, dropped heavily. He somehow got up and went on to win in the 11th. It remains one of the most stunning recoveries of them all.
10) SUGAR RAY ROBINSON v GENE FULLMER II
May 1, 1957
Outhustled over 15 rounds when they met four months earlier, Robinson had spent weeks practising how to set up the ‘perfect punch’. That left hook, that took Fullmer out in round five, remains a thing of beauty almost 70 years later.
9) FLOYD MAYWEATHER v RICKY HATTON
December 8, 2007
The punch that broke thousands of Briton’s hearts came in round 10 of Hatton’s challenge to the brilliant Mayweather in Las Vegas. Behind on points and running out of time, Hatton saw Mayweather near a corner and jumped in. Mayweather saw it coming, swerved out of its path and clipped Hatton’s jaw with a check left hook, sending him hurtling head-first into the corner post.
8) STANLEY KETCHEL v JACK JOHNSON
October 16, 2009
The story goes that Johnson and Ketchel – world champions at heavyweight and middleweight respectively – agreed between themselves that their fight would last the full 20 rounds.
Suddenly, in the 12th, the spectators were on their feet because Johnson wasn’t after Ketchel swung a shocking right that crashed onto the giant’s jaw. Johnson got up and ended the fight with a right of his own.
Ketchel would be forgiven and invited to help Johnson prepare for his fight with James J Jeffries the following year.
7) LUIS FIRPO v JACK DEMPSEY
September 14, 1923
The Ring Magazine called it “the most famous moment in sports.” It was the moment Dempsey – after exchanging nine knockdowns with Firpo – was smashed out of the ring in front of 83,000 fans at New York’s Polo Grounds. Dempsey was helped back into the ring by reporters and was on his feet and ready to carry on fighting at the count of ‘nine.’
Dempsey went on to knock out Firpo in the second.
6) GEORGE FOREMAN v JOE FRAZIER
January 22, 1973
The sixth – and final – knockdown is one of boxing’s most famous because it briefly sent Frazier, deemed close to invincible only 10 minutes before, into orbit. Foreman had the groggy Frazier on the ropes and smashed him with a pair of left hooks that lined him up for a scything right hook-cum-uppercut. Frazier skipped away and both his feet briefly left the canvas before he landed on one knee.
5) ROCKY MARCIANO v JERSEY JOE WALCOTT
September 23, 1952
‘The Suzie Q’ is a dance and it was also the nickname given to Marciano’s right-hand punch. The name was the idea of his trainer Charley Goodman, a former pro bantamweight who claimed to have had more than 400 fights. In round 13 and ahead on points, Walcott loaded up on a right hand of his own – but Marciano’s got there first.
4) GEORGE FOREMAN v MICHAEL MOORER
November 5, 1994
At the age of 45 and having lost most of the previous nine rounds, it looked like the career of Foreman had – at most – only three more rounds to run as he answered the bell for the 10th against Moorer. Yet George had been plotting something spectacular and so it proved as he positioned the much younger heavyweight champion into position and knocked him cold with one swing of his famed right hand.
3) JOE FRAZIER v MUHAMMAD ALI
March 8, 1971
Frazier remembered of the left hook that confirmed his victory in The Fight of the Century: “As he stepped toward me, I dipped down and let fly another left, leaving my feet to throw a looping shot that landed against the right side of his face and sent Clay [Ali] onto the seat of his trunks. It was not a killer shot, but it landed right on the button, on a very worn-out man.”
2) DIEGO CORRALES v JOSE LUIS CASTILLO
May 7, 2005
This ferocious two-way battle swung this way and that for the first nine rounds until, in the 10th, Castillo twice dropped the exhausted Corrales in the 10th. What followed is still scarcely believable and the punch that triggered arguably the greatest comeback of them all – a blazing left hook from Corrales – one of the most dramatic and unexpected in combat sports history.
1) HENRY COOPER v CASSIUS CLAY
June 18, 1963
“From the moment the match was made we fancied our chances of landing the left hook,” revealed Cooper years after the fight. “He had a hands-down style that left his chin unguarded and throughout training we practised feinting with our right and then whipping over the left hook.”
Bleeding profusely and seemingly about to be stopped, Cooper landed that left hook at the end of the fourth round.
The rest is history. Clay beat the count and went on to become the most influential – and arguably greatest – boxer of them all.