Knockout of the Year should live up to all the drama that a stirring knockout victory in boxing promises, the sort of thing that helps define careers, ends rivalries, and gets the crowd up onto their feet in their excitement. It should also be a true knockout, complete with count-out. Not a TKO, but a true KO.
The problem is that true knockouts with counts aren’t as common as they used to be, and that is a good thing. Safety-conscious referees usually don’t need to be told when the fighter lying at their feet on the canvas doesn’t need a 10-count to establish whether he is out. Especially when such a call is uncontroversial, going unremarked upon by the press and unprotested by the loser’s corner, the 10-count becomes a technicality.
This year posed two top candidates for Knockout of the Year, with the problem being the one that deserved it most was hung up by just that technicality. Therefore we have a tie for Knockout of the Year: Froch vs. Groves II and Andy Lee vs. John Jackson.
Knockout of 2014 #1: Carl Froch TKO8 George Groves
The Cobra answered all doubters in dramatic fashion by flattening his fellow Briton, George Groves, with a monster straight right. Literally the only reason the record reads “TKO” and not “KO” is because the referee took one look at Groves and decided he wasn’t getting up in any condition to continue, and no one has questioned that call.
In defeating Groves in this way, Froch proved his version of the truth from their first and far more controversial encounter: namely that he was gaining on Groves and setting him up for a late round knockout. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Groves and plenty of naysayers were saying Froch was past his best or that Groves had his number. Froch shut them up, but then again he has a way of doing that to his critics.
Knockout of 2014 #2: Andy Lee KO5 John Jackson
Lee’s kayo of John Jackson, son of 1980s and ’90s era middleweight banger Julian “The Hawk” Jackson, was both dramatic and decisive. Lee was largely written off as a real middleweight contender since his 2007 stoppage loss at the hands of Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. He was, in fact, having a bad night on this occasion, as Jackson’s aggression kept him constantly backing up onto the ropes.
Then came the moment in the 5th when Lee, on the ropes and almost in a corner, landed a short, hard right just a fraction of a second earlier than Jackson could connect with his longer right. Down went Jackson like a sack of potatoes, out for the count. That punch not only changed the outcome of the fight, since Lee was surely on his way to a points loss, but also revived Lee’s career.
Rogelino Medina KO3 J’Leon Love: Tough, Mexican super middleweight journeyman Medina traveled to the U.S. and exposed the undefeated Love, Floyd Mayweather’s top prospect. A straight right plus a left hook demolished Love.
Nicholas Walters TKO6 Nonito Donaire: Walters used his superior height and reach to put the hurt down on the much-trumpeted Donaire, who had no answers. In Round 6, Walters stood his ground and invited Donaire to come in on him, prompting a furious exchange that Donaire lost. The Filipino warrior crashed face first into the canvas, and although he got up before the count of 10, the fight was waved off.