When France's Hassan N'Dam lost his middleweight world title to Peter Quillin by decision in 2012, N'Dam got knocked down six times but otherwise made it a competitive fight.
When N'Dam lost a decision to David Lemieux for a vacant title in 2015, he got knocked down four times but otherwise made it a competitive fight.
So when N'Dam met 2008 Venezuelan Olympian and interim middleweight titlist Alfonso Blanco on Dec. 17 in Saint-Denis, France, perhaps the trend of N'Dam getting dropped in a competitive fight would continue.
And then the bell rang and it was a different story. In the first few seconds, N'Dam pushed out a left hook and then didn't throw another punch until blinding Blanco with a left jab and following with a flush-as-could-be right-hand bang on the point of the chin that was the easy pick for 2016 ESPN.com knockout of the year.
Blanco never knew what hit him. He was out cold upon impact of the punch and fell face first, seemingly in slow motion, without breaking his fall. When he hit the mat his body bounced and was literally convulsing up and down as referee Gustavo Padilla immediately stopped the fight without a count after just 22 seconds. The ringside doctor hurried to his side as he and Padilla attended to him, but Blanco was moving involuntarily, kicking his right leg in the air as N'Dam celebrated wildly. Knockouts get no more destructive.
Other sweet shots
2. Canelo Alvarez KO6 Amir Khan (May 7 at Las Vegas): In 2015, Alvarez knocked James Kirkland unconscious with a right hand in the third round for the KO of the year. He came awfully close to repeating in 2016 as he drilled Khan to retain the middleweight title. The fight went as expected as Khan used his speed and skills to outbox Alvarez in the early going, but everybody knew Alvarez would eventually catch the chinny Khan. And in the sixth round it happened as Alvarez landed a similar right hand that knocked Khan into oblivion. Khan's body contorted, his arms flew in the air and he fell like a rock with the back of his head pounding off the canvas. It was spectacular. Khan's eyes were open but he was motionless as referee Kenny Bayless immediately stopped it at 2 minutes, 37 seconds and Alvarez immediately knelt at Khan's side to see if he was OK.
3. Deontay Wilder KO9 Artur Szpilka (Jan. 16 at New York): Wilder is one of the biggest punchers in boxing, as poor Szpilka found out firsthand in this heavyweight title fight. With former heavyweight champions Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson, both all-time great punchers, at ringside, Wilder absolutely erased Szpilka with a crushing right hand. Szpilka was giving Wilder a few problems until late in the ninth round when he maneuvered Szpilka near a corner and landed a brutal right hand as flush as possible smack on his chin. Szpilka never saw it coming. His arms flew up in the air, he spun around and crashed to the mat. He was out cold and referee Mike Griffin quickly stopped the fight at 2 minutes, 24 seconds as medical personnel swarmed Szpilka. He was down for several minutes receiving medical attention before being removed from the ring on a stretcher and taken to the hospital as a precaution.
4. Joe Smith Jr. TKO8 Bernard Hopkins (Dec. 17 at Inglewood, California): The all-time great Hopkins came into the light heavyweight bout as the huge favorite against Smith, whom he picked to face in the final fight of his legendary 28-year-year career. But instead of Hopkins getting a warm, fuzzy send-off victory, Smith, ahead on two scorecards going into the eighth round of a tough fight, stunningly backed Hopkins into the ropes and unleashed a ferocious six-punch onslaught that hammered Hopkins. The finishing left hand sent Hopkins flying backward between the ropes and out of the ring. He banged his head on the arena floor, somehow sprained his ankle and was unable to beat referee Jack Reiss' 20-count as the fight ended at 53 seconds with Hopkins surrounded by medical personnel. The sensational knockout was the first stoppage loss in Hopkins' incredible 67-fight career.
5. Vasyl Lomachenko KO5 Roman "Rocky" Martinez (June 11 at New York): The gifted Lomachenko is known for his otherworldly skills, but he can also crack. Moving up from featherweight, where he had a world title, Lomachenko challenged Martinez for his junior lightweight belt and closed the show in violent fashion. Lomachenko outclassed him all the way until scoring a nasty knockout as he landed a short left uppercut and then exploded a right hook on Martinez's chin, dropping him flat on his back as referee Danny Schiavone waved it off, not bothering to finish the count, as Lomachenko literally did cartwheels across the ring.
6. Rob Brant KO4 DeCarlo Perez (Jan. 22 at Tucson, Arizona): Middleweight up-and-comer Brant scored his most significant win in pulverizing fashion. Known as more of a skilled boxer than a big puncher, Brant put on a power display in the fourth round, landing a titanic right hand on the chin that annihilated Perez, who fell between the ropes. Perez was hanging on the second ring rope with half of his body out of the ring and the other half inside before he ricocheted into the ring. He was out and referee Rocky Burke immediately called off the fight at 39 seconds. The knockout was reminiscent of the 2008 ESPN.com knockout of the year in which Edison Miranda knocked out David Banks in the third round, leaving him dangling over one of the ring ropes.
7. Mason Menard KO3 Eudy Bernardo (April 15 at Verona, New York): Lightweight up-and-comer Menard, who knocked Bernard down for the first time in his career with a series of right hands as the second round was coming to an end, turned out the lights early in the third round as he splattered Bernardo with a tremendous right hand to the chin. It rendered him out cold and halfway under the ropes in brutal fashion at 2 minutes, 11 seconds. Bernard, who suffered his first loss, was out even before slamming his head into the mat upon impact. Referee Benjy Esteves Jr. immediately stopped the fight. He could have counted to 200. Bernard was taken from the ring on a stretcher.
8. Callum Smith KO10 Luke Blackledge (Dec. 10 at Manchester, England): Smith, a mandatory challenger for a world title, retained the British super middleweight title in frightening fashion as he stopped Blackledge with a massive left hook to the head. Blackledge fell limp immediately and was out cold as referee Steve Gray waved it over without counting at 2 minutes, 34 seconds.
9. Julius Indongo KO1 Eduard Troyanovsky (Dec. 3 at Moscow): The heretofore completely unknown Indongo, who had never faced a top opponent, traveled to Troyanovsky's turf and made a huge impression in this 42-second fight in which he won a junior welterweight world title in extremely violent fashion. There is only one punch to talk about, an overhand left that Indongo landed flush on Troyanovsky's chin. It stretched him flat on his back in the center of the ring as referee Mark Calo-Oy immediately waved off the fight. The KO was reminiscent of Manny Pacquiao's brutal second-round knockout of Ricky Hatton in 2009 in the same division.
10. Cesar Miguel Barrionuevo TKO5 Azael Cosio (Jan. 30 at Guerrero, Mexico): In a welterweight eliminator designed to move the winner a step closer to a shot at Danny Garcia, Barrionuevo blew through Cosio in dominant fashion, dropping him five times, including the devastating fifth one. The final crushing blow was a doozy. Late in the fifth round, Cosio walked toward Barrionuevo, who met him with the cleanest left hand on the chin that can be landed and it turned out his lights. Cosio went down hard, landing spread eagle on his back in the center of the ring as his head smashed the canvas. Referee Jose Guadalupe Garcia immediately stopped the fight at 2 minutes, 55 seconds and pulled out Cosio's mouthpiece.