As the dog days of summer kick into low gear, we reach the midyear mark of the 2013 boxing calendar. So what have we learned from this small sample size of the sweet science? In a fun, taking-stock exercise to cure the summertime blues, this week we unveil our midyear awards for the categories of best boxer, fight, knockout and round through the year's midpoint.
Have you ever seen the perfect punch before in a boxing match?
I'm talking about the kind of shot so brilliantly executed in terms of mechanics and technique that it connects with a level of artistic beauty that perfectly contrasts the calamitous results left in its wake.
Basically, you know it when you see it.
A single punch that fit this description perfectly was thrown on March 30 when unbeaten slugger Gennady Golovkin traveled to Monte Carlo for a stay-busy fight with respected journeyman Nobuhiro Ishida. And by the time it connected late in the third round, the punch produced one of the most sublime and devastating one-punch knockouts that you will ever witness.
In fact, it was so impressive that it easily gets the nod as the best knockout of 2013 at the midyear point.
Golovkin, who was making the seventh defense of his middleweight title, extended his consecutive knockout streak to 13 with the victory. But this one was extra special, even when compared to the Kazakh KO King's ever-burgeoning career highlight reel.
The fight didn't carry any extra meaning, not with the 37-year-old Ishida having entered the bout with eight career defeats. But the fact the durable native of Japan had never been stopped in 35 pro fights raised the ante, especially considering the balance between the otherworldly hype Golovkin entered the fight with and the finality of what one right hand did to Ishida.
Golovkin set up the knockout shot -- the final blow in an immaculate three-punch combination -- with a level of aesthetic brilliance. After stalking forward and forcing the straight-up Ishida to backpedal toward the corner, Golovkin landed a flush jab before missing on a left uppercut attempt.
What the missed uppercut did, however, was distract Ishida and blind him to the fact a pivoting Golovkin was about to step forward and land a crushing overhand right for the ages. As Ishida stood helpless, with his hands low, Golovkin got full extension on the punch and threw him onto the mat with the force of a hurricane wind.
Not only was Ishida knocked cold by the impact of the punch, the top half of his body was catapulted under the ring ropes and nearly to the floor. Ishida's head had to be supported by a quick-responding official at ringside to prevent it from slamming back onto a table adjacent to the ring.
As far as visual devastation goes, it was about as good as it gets for a knockout punch. It wouldn't, however, be the last time a Golovkin finishing shot was in the conversation for best of the year.
Adonis Stevenson KO1 Chad Dawson: By claiming the lineal light heavyweight title with one demolishing shot on June 8 in Montreal, 35-year-old Adonis Stevenson scored the biggest victory of his career and easily the most important knockout so far in 2013. The Haitian-born southpaw connected on a textbook 1-2 combination by slinging a right jab and coming right over the top with a missile left hand that landed flush to the right side of Dawson's head. The veteran champion reached his feet, but he was unable to show referee Michael Griffin enough signs that it was safe for him to continue.
Golovkin KO3 Matthew Macklin: The knockout blow -- a pulverizing left hook to the body in the third round that crumpled Macklin like a house of cards -- was almost as exciting and eye-opening as what the punch represented. This was the much-hyped GGG's true coming-out moment, which proved that he was more than merely a must-see knockout attraction. The punishing body shot, which sounded like a shotgun blast from ringside, floored Macklin -- the first legitimate title contender that Golovkin has faced -- and left him writhing in pain on the canvas for minutes after the final bell was rung to end the fight.
Javier Fortuna KO1 Miguel Zamudio: Fortuna, the unbeaten featherweight prospect from the Dominican Republic, unleashed a stunningly vicious knockout shot just 68 seconds into this bout against the overmatched Miguel Zamudio on April 19 in Atlantic City, N.J. The southpaw Fortuna had roughed up and floored Zamudio, a native of Mexico who had built up a mark of 25-1 against relatively soft opposition, early in the round before finishing him moments later on a short left cross. Zamudio was out cold and seemingly lifeless with his eyes open, and stayed down for an extended period as the medical staff examined him.