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Best First Round Knockouts in Boxing History

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The Most Memorable 1 Round KO’s in The History of Boxing

Following last weeks sensational first round stoppages of Roy Jones and Dmitriy Salita, comparisons are already being made with devastating early knockouts of the past. Looking back, here are the 5 most controversial, historically significant and devastatingly brutal stoppages that never made it further than the opening round.

Best Knockouts in the First Round in Boxing: Tyson KO1 Spinks

  • When: 27th June 1988
  • Where: Hilton hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada

Going into the bout Spinks was 31-0, had defeated the great Larry Holmes twice and was still regarded as the true heavyweight champion of the world, as he never lost his title in the ring.

Tyson was the new kid on the block, undisputed heavyweight champ with a perfect record of 34-0. Boxing writers at the time couldn’t pick a winner, either Tyson with his rugged aggression or Spinks with his technical smarts.

What played out was a 91 second beat down that started with a right to the body and ended with Mike Tyson becoming the true undisputed champion and the most feared man on the planet.

Spinks never fought again.

Best Knockouts in the First Round in Boxing: Clay KO1 Liston

  • When:25th May 1965
  • Where: St. Dominic’s Hall, Lewiston, Maine


Cassius Marcellus Clay shook up the world by winning the heavyweight title in 1964 by defeating the menacing Sonny Liston in 6 rounds, in what was one of the biggest upsets in the sports history. There were some question marks however over the manner of victory as Liston cited an injured shoulder as the reason he couldn’t come out for the 7th. Due to popular demand, the rematch was made and was to become the most controversial title fight in heavyweight history.

The fight was over inside 60 seconds, all due to a seemingly harmless punch to Liston’s temple. Confusion reigned in the arena, Clay stood above Liston shouting ‘Get up, get up’, referee Jersey Joe Walcott lost the count during a mix-up between himself and a ringside official and the bout was only officially called to a halt after ringside scribe and Ring magazine editor Nat Fleischer, informed Walcott that Liston was on the canvas for the full 10 seconds.

Liston fought on until 1970, the year of his death. Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali and became a global superstar.

Best Knockouts in the First Round in Boxing: Liston KO1 Patterson

  • When: 25th September 1962
  • Where: Comiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois

Because of Sonny Liston’s links with organized crime, Floyd Patterson’s advisers did everything in their power to prevent the match-up from ever being made. Patterson though finally defied the wishes of his manager Cus D’Amato and signed to fight on 25th September 1962 in Comiskey Park, Chicago.

Some at ringside actually thought Patterson had a great chance of victory, as he possessed the supreme skill and speed. That idea was put to bed early however as the champ was unable to beat the count, after a series of vicious blows handed out by Liston. The bout lasted only 2 minutes and 5 seconds and Sonny Liston was crowned the new heavyweight champ, his first defense, a return with Patterson. This time the bout lasted only 4 seconds longer, another brutal 1st round knockout.

Best Knockouts in the First Round in Boxing: Marciano KO1 Walcott

  • When: 15th May 1953
  • Where: Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois

Rocky Marciano was the new heavyweight champion of the world, following a grueling 13th round KO of champ Jersey Joe Walcott 8 months earlier. Marciano was rough, tough and possibly the hardest hitting heavyweight champ of all time. While other champs were blessed with ring savvy, Rocky was blessed with a steely will and a chin made of granite. If the rematch was to become half as good as the first encounter then fans would be in for a thrilling night.

They certainly were not. Marciano made it a quick nights work after only 2:25 minutes, blowing away Walcott with a left hand, short right uppercut combination that left the former champ in no fit state to continue.

Walcott retired after the bout, trying his hand at acting, wrestling and even became a referee. Rocky on the other hand defended his title a further 5 more times and retired as undefeated champion of the world. He tragically lost his life in a plane crash on August 1969 on the eve of his 46th birthday.

Best Knockouts in the First Round in Boxing: Louis KO1 Schmeling

  • When: 22nd June 1938
  • Where: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York

Along with the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Louis vs. Shcmeling II was one of the most significant major sporting event of the 20th century.

The Nazi party was in full swing and popular opinion at the time was that Schmeling was the face of fascism. Hitler himself even sent Schmeling a telegram wishing good luck. The bout wasn’t just billed as black vs white, but democracy vs totalitarianism and even good vs evil.

Schmeling was the only man to have ever beaten Louis back in 1936 by 12th round KO and Louis was out for revenge.

As soon as the fight began, Louis started to land cleanly with ferocious lefts and rights to the challenger’s jaw. Schmeling was on the canvas taking a count when his trainer Max Machon threw in the towel and referee Arthur Donovan waved it off at the 2:04 mark. It was not only a defeat for Schmeling but also a massive defeat for Nazism.

Of course the world later found out that Schmeling was not this fascist thug he was portrayed to be and even risked life and limb by hiding Jewish children in his Berlin apartment during raids by the gestapo. A true hero, he lived to the ripe old age of 99.

Louis went on to be arguably the greatest ever heavyweight in the history of the sport.

Image Credit: Public Domain from Wikimedia Commons

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