B-Hop's was bigger by far
Watching Gennady Golovkin crumple Matthew Macklin with a digging left hook to the liver on Saturday night to retain his middleweight title was a thing of beauty, and it added yet another impressive knockout to the record of the man with the highest KO percentage in boxing among active titleholders.
It was one of a handful of memorable body-shot knockouts of the past 15 years.
Remember Roy Jones Jr.'s rib-cruncher against Virgil Hill in the fourth round in 1998? Some in attendance described it as sounding like a shotgun blast.
How about Arturo Gatti's left hook to Leonard Dorin's flank in the second round to retain a junior welterweight belt in 2004 amid the bedlam of Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., where Gatti was the franchise for so long?
Both of those knockouts were the kind of shots that take your breath away just watching them. Golovkin's shot against Macklin was cut from the same cloth. But for my money, the best body-shot knockout of recent years came on Sept. 18, 2004, when Bernard Hopkins became the first man to stop Oscar De La Hoya, dropping him for the count with a body shot in the ninth round in their ultrahyped middleweight unification fight.
First off, the knockout, like most that come from body blows, was aesthetically pleasing. Hopkins was coming forward when he tucked a left hook into De La Hoya's rib cage at short range. De La Hoya dropped to one knee on a slightly delayed reaction, then pitched forward onto all fours in agony. With his face crinkled and in obvious pain, De La Hoya then rolled over onto his back, and then onto his side, as referee Kenny Bayless counted him out. De La Hoya finally got back to all fours, and as Hopkins celebrated, a disconsolate Golden Boy -- still unable to get to his feet -- pounded the canvas with his fists in disgust as medical personnel hovered over him.
It was such a stunning scene to see the usually durable De La Hoya helpless and breathless. Hopkins hasn't had a knockout since, but that was perhaps his most memorable one this side of his 2001 beatdown of Felix Trinidad.
Besides being a pretty KO to watch, Hopkins' knockout of De La Hoya had so much more meaning than Golovkin's knockout of Macklin.
Hopkins-De La Hoya was a true superfight, a massive 1 million-buy pay-per-view event that was one of the biggest fights of the decade. Golovkin-Macklin? Sure, it was a notable, hard-core fans' fight, but not even close to a mainstream event.
De La Hoya was the box office star of his time, so to see him get whacked with one shot on a grand stage at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas was a huge deal. Golovkin is one of boxing's hottest fighters right now, but he is still largely unknown outside of boxing circles.
And let's not forget the stakes of the fight: Hopkins was the three-belt lineal middleweight champion. He had been the dominant force at 160 pounds since knocking out Trinidad.
De La Hoya, meanwhile, held one of the four major belts, and the fight marked the first time in boxing history that all four major titles would be at stake in a fight. So when Hopkins scored the one-shot knockout, he solidified his stranglehold on the division and became the first man to hold every major alphabet title at the same time -- something almost impossible to do, given the crazy politics of the sport.
No knock on what Golovkin did to Macklin, but it was for a paper title. It was a sweet knockout, to be sure, and one I'll remember watching ringside for a long, long time. But I was also ringside for Hopkins-De La Hoya, and not only was it a great knockout, it was a fight that was far more significant and historic than Golovkin-Macklin.
GGG's was picture perfect
Boxing fans can talk all they want about their appreciation for the artistry of the sport, but in the end, this "sweet science" is nothing without the sweet violence. We love super-slo-mo replays of jaws contorting and ears jiggling. We love opposing left hooks cranking up and crashing home simultaneously. We love bodies stiffening and becoming one with the canvas.
And we love a good old-fashioned punch to the ribs. We love those breath-defying feats of body-shot brutality.
The left hook with which middleweight beast Gennady "GGG" Golovkin knocked out Matthew Macklin on Saturday was as perfect as such a punch gets. It was expertly orchestrated, a couple of uppercuts lifting Macklin's guard to expose his flanks. Then fluidly, frighteningly, Golovkin uncorked the punch. It was probably the best body-shot knockout in nine years.
No, not since Bernard Hopkins-Oscar De La Hoya in September 2004; it was significantly better than that. It was the best since Arturo Gatti-Leonard Dorin in July '04, which may not have been the most famous body-shot KO that year -- but was the most spectacular. And there hasn't been one in the interim as chilling as Golovkin's.
About the Hopkins shot that flattened Oscar: Certainly it came in a bigger fight, and undoubtedly, it was impressive that B-Hop became the first man to ice future Hall of Famer De La Hoya. But I couldn't disagree more about its aesthetic quality: In fact, it was one of the least-impressive-looking body punches ever to end a bout.
There was no violent torque behind it, no ripple of flesh as the leather drove into the gut. The Golovkin-Macklin replay elicited "oohs," "aahs" and anguished grimaces that mirrored Macklin's. The Hopkins-De La Hoya replay made viewers tilt their heads, crinkle their noses and turn to their friends and ask, "What happened?" Hopkins' hook looked for all the world like a harmless tap that was, apparently, perfectly placed. It was so lacking in visible force that, to this day, some fans believe Oscar took a dive. I don't agree with those fans, but the fact they exist tells you all you need to know about where Hopkins-De La Hoya belongs in the pantheon of great body blows.
Macklin suffered not just a bruised ego, as De La Hoya did when he pounded the canvas in frustration seconds after the fight's conclusion, but a broken rib -- and on the replays, you can almost see Golovkin's fist bend that rib. The punch was downright balletic in its delivery: GGG's right shoulder slides backward, his left hip twists inward, his left hand follows and finishes, and down goes Macklin.
About three years ago, I wrote a lengthy article for another publication ranking the 20 greatest one-punch knockouts of all time. Two body shots made the list: Bob Fitzsimmons-Jim Corbett and Roy Jones Jr.-Virgil Hill. Hopkins-De La Hoya never even entered the conversation. Frankly, that knockout wasn't much to look at. I'm not saying Golovkin-Macklin will be a part of future all-time-great-knockout conversations, but it was something special to behold. It was exactly what a body-shot KO is supposed to look like.
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