Top 10 World Title First Round Knockouts

AND THE NEW: Adonis Stevenson floors Chad Dawson to become the new WBC light heavyweight champion (credit: AP/Graham Hughes)

AND THE NEW: Adonis Stevenson floors Chad Dawson to become the new WBC light heavyweight champion (credit: AP/Graham Hughes)

AFTER Adonis Stevenson’s first round demolition of Chad Dawson to win the WBC light heavyweight title in Montreal on Saturday (8 June) here are ten of the best and most memorable first round knockouts in world title fights.

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EPIC: The battle between Ray Mancini and Arturo Frias is often overlooked

EPIC: The battle between Ray Mancini and Arturo Frias is often overlooked

10. Ray Mancini Vs Arturo Frias (The Aladdin, Las Vegas, 8 May 1982 – WBA lightweight title)

This classic bout between lightweight sensations Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and Arturo Frias is widely considered to be one boxing’s greatest one round fights. After losing his WBC title and undefeated record to the legendary Alexis Arguello the year before, Mancini was looking to bounce back and challenged the WBA champion in Frias.

It was an explosive and frenetic slugfest as both men traded blows from the start. Despite it being such a short fight, Mancini was cut above his left eye and Frias was cut under his left and on the bridge of his nose. Mancini dropped Frias with a big left hook and referee Richard Greene stopped the bout after a brutal follow-up assault.

9. Daniel Jimenez Vs Harald Geier (Domplatz, Wiener Neustadt, Austria, 3 September 1994 – WBO super bantamweight title)

In 1994, Puerto Rican super bantamweight Daniel Jimenez made history as he recorded the fastest knockout in any world title fight in history as he knocked out Austrian challenger Harald Geier in 17 seconds in his hometown to retain his WBO title. Since then, no title fight has come anywhere near to breaking Jimenez’s unique record.

LION'S ROAR: Lennox Lewis sends Andrew Golota tumbling

LION’S ROAR: Lennox Lewis sends Andrew Golota tumbling

8. Lennox Lewis Vs Andrew Golota (Caesar’s Casino, Atlantic City, 4 October 1997- WBC heavyweight title )

Heavyweight great Lennox Lewis had a year to remember in 1997. After winning the vacant WBC title from Oliver McCall in February and beating Henry Akinwande in July of that year, Lewis was expected to have a war with the unpredictable Andrew Golota in October in Atlantic City. However, Lewis savaged Golota from the start with a serious of hooks that left Golota dazed and on the floor.

Referee Joe Cortez allowed Golota to continue but the Pole was pummeled by the unrelenting Lewis before the referee had no choice but to stop the bout. After the fight, Golota suffered from a seizure and required resuscitation on the way to hospital after apparently being injected with lidocaine, a painkiller, in order to stave off knee pain.

7. Roy Jones Jr Vs Montell Griffin II (Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut, 7 August 1997 – WBC light heavyweight title)

In March 1997, Roy Jones Jr suffered the first loss of his professional career and lost his WBC light-heavyweight title as he was disqualified for punching Montell Griffin twice while he was on the canvas. Jones sought a rematch with Griffin immediately and it was set up for August that year. Jones floored Griffin in the first half of the fight with a left hook before he was counted out after being on the receiving end of another leaping left hook lead from Jones.

6. Mike Tyson Vs Carl Williams (Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, 21 July 1989 – WBA, WBC, IBF and Lineal heavyweight titles)

Carl Williams was a decent boxer and a solid puncher coming into this fight but he had no idea what he was in for when he came up against a menacing and peak Mike Tyson. Williams may have been the bigger man with a longer reach but Tyson floored the challenger with a devastating left hook leaving Williams unable to answer the referee’s count.

BAD: Sonny Liston towers over a fallen Floyd Patterson

BAD: Sonny Liston towers over a fallen Floyd Patterson

5. Sonny Liston Vs Floyd Patterson (Comiskey Park, Chicago, 25 September 1962 – World heavyweight title)

Sonny Liston was a bad bad man. His well-known association with the mob and intimidating appearance made him a fearsome challenger to then world champion Floyd Patterson. Patterson was a gifted technical boxer but was the underdog coming into the fight against the bigger and more powerful Liston. Liston dominated from the start and rocked Patterson with a solid left hook nearly halfway through the first round followed up by a series of body shots.

Liston sensed that Patterson was badly hurt and unleashed a thunderous left hook along with a glancing right and followed by another  left hook to end the fight and become the first man to ever knock out the world heavyweight champion in the first round.

4. Rocky Marciano Vs Jersey Joe Walcott II (Chicago Stadium, 15 May 1953 – World heavyweight title)

The legendary Brockton Blockuster Marciano won his first world title from the ageing Walcott a year earlier with a KO in the 13th round  after the champion had dominated most of the fight. Walcott was elusive in the opening moments in the fight and it appeared that Marciano would have yet another difficult fight on his hands. However, in the last minute of the round, Marciano floored Walcott with a ferocious right hand and Walcott was unable to beat the count.

ICONIC: Muhammad Ali's memorable gesture to Sonny Liston

ICONIC: Muhammad Ali’s memorable gesture to Sonny Liston

3. Muhammad Ali Vs Sonny Liston II (Central Maine Youth Center, Lewiston, Maine, 25 May 1965 – World heavyweight title)

The rematch between Cassius Clay, now going by the name of Muhammad Ali, and Sonny Liston was one of the most hotly-anticipated and controversial bouts the sport has ever witnessed.

In the build-up to the fight, Ali was not his usual outspoken self and appeared subdued due to the intense situation surrounding his public approval of the Nation of Islam and the assassination of Malcolm X a couple of months prior. “The Louisville Lip” defeated “The Big Bear” for the world title in the first bout a year before after Liston failed to get off his stool for the seventh round.

However, the rematch would provide one of the most iconic photographs in sporting history. Midway through the first round, Liston dropped to the canvas in what appeared to be a dive instead of a legitimate knockdown. An enraged Ali stood over Liston, gestured at him and shouted “Get up and fight, sucker!”.

The referee for the night was former world champion Jersey Joe Walcott and gave Liston 20 seconds to recover as Ali refused to go to a neutral corner. However, the publisher of The Ring magazine, Nat Fleischer, climbed in to the ring to tell Walcott that as Liston had spent over 10 seconds on the canvas, he was officially knocked out. Walcott then stopped the fight and awarded Ali a KO victory, even though he was correct in awarding Liston extra time as Ali had not went to a neutral corner.

The punch which Ali supposedly landed on Liston was infamously known as the “phantom punch” as most spectators ringside did not even see it. There are many theories as to why Liston supposedly took a dive, the most common being that he either owed a large amount of money to the Mafia or he feared for his safety from the Nation of Islam.

DEVASTATING: A peak Mike Tyson destroys Michael Spinks

DEVASTATING: A peak Mike Tyson destroys Michael Spinks

2. Mike Tyson Vs Michael Spinks (Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, 27 June 1988 – WBA, WBC, IBF, Ring and Lineal heavyweight titles)

At the time, the clash between Mike Tyson and Michael Spinks was the richest fight in boxing history grossing over $70m. Spinks had previously avoided Tyson since winning the Ring Magazine strap from Larry Holmes three years earlier. However, promoter Don King and Tyson’s management made the Spinks camp an offer they could not refuse and set up the biggest test of Tyson’s career.

However what was to follow was one of the most brutal knockouts in boxing history. Spinks’ promoter Butch Lewis made what proved to be a regrettable choice in playing mind games with Tyson as he complained that Tyson’s hands be re-wrapped due to a bump in his gloves. After the delay, Tyson stormed to the ring looking as though he was going to kill Spinks instead of fight him.

The previously unbeaten Spinks was tipped, most notably by Muhammad Ali and legendary boxing writer Bert Sugar, to outbox Tyson. However, Tyson trapped Spinks from the opening bell and rocked him with a serious of hooks, forcing Spinks to take a knee after a minute due to a right hand to the body. This was the first time Spinks had been knocked down and rose after the count of four but Tyson sent Spinks crashing to the canvas with a left-right combination that left Spinks unable to beat the count. The fight lasted just 91 seconds and only ten punches were landed, eight by Tyson, two by Spinks.

REVENGE: Joe Louis levels the score with Max Schmeling

REVENGE: Joe Louis levels the score with Max Schmeling

1. Joe Louis Vs Max Schmeling II (Yankee Stadium, New York, 22 June 1938 – world heavyweight title)

This was undoubtedly one of the biggest and most politically charged fights in boxing history. Joe Louis was world heavyweight champion coming into the fight and was not only an icon to African American’s but was also recognised as the great hope for the whole of America. In contrast, Schmeling was symbolic of Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler’s rise to power.

Schmeling’s victory over Louis in the first fight was regarded as one of the biggest shocks in boxing history and Louis got his revenge at a sold out Yankee Stadium in front of over 70,000 fans including Clark Gable, Gregory Peck and J. Edgar Hoover. Louis took his time from the opening bell and after Schmeling landed clean with a left, Louis unloaded a barrage of shots sending Schmeling down to the canvas three times before the fight was stopped.


Honorable mentions:

  • Michael Nunn Vs Sumbu Kalambay
  • Gerald McClellan Vs John Mugabi
  • Gerald McClellan Vs Julian Jackson
  • Gerald McClellan Vs Jay Bell
  • Prince Naseem Hamed Vs Said Lawal
  • Bernard Hopkins Vs Steve Frank
  • Pongsaklek Wonjongkam Vs Daisuke Naito

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