Sometimes, a fighter can score a knockout that both thrills and sickens at the same time, both in equal measure. This was the case on Saturday night in Las Vegas when Oscar Valdez put out countryman Miguel Berchelt’s lights in one wicked flash.
It was one of those jaw-dropping knockouts where, the split second the shot landed – in this case a perfectly executed left hook to the jaw – everyone watching knew the fight was over.
Valdez’ KO was also one of those that scared the hell out of even hardened fight fans. The way the tough, durable and in his prime Berchelt fell, in fact crumpled, was something that showed in graphic detail how any fight can end at any time. This is what keeps us coming back.
A great fight, with the added bonus of a sizzling knockout, always sends the paying fans home with plenty to talk about, and for more sensitive souls, a need to feel guilty. The fact that any fighter, rock-chinned or not, faces this kind of split second peril each and every time he sets foot in the ring also reinforces the fact of how brave, how very brave, all fighters have to be.
So where does Valdez’ tenth-round KO of Berchelt deserve to be placed among the greatest, most stunning knockouts of all-time? Time is needed before we can adequately rank the KO that took place just two days ago, but there is no doubt, Valdez KO Berchelt will one day be ranked very high as far as greatest KO’s go. For now, it will take an absolutely ferocious and utterly shocking knockout to rob Valdez’ handywork of picking up the 2021 KO of the Year award when the time comes.
And maybe one day, Valdez KO Berchelt will be ranked right up there with the following awesome, never to be forgotten KO’s.
Here’s my pick for the Five Greatest KO’s ever:
1: Sugar Ray Robinson KO Gene Fullmer. May 1957.
The rock-chinned fighter of all rock-chinned middleweight fighters, Fullmer was iced in a flash by arguably the sweetest left hook ever captured on film.
2: Rocky Marciano KO Jersey Joe Walcott. September 1952.
Marciano, swollen and behind on points, backed Walcott to the ropes and then unloaded his “Suzy Q.” That old black and white footage is still marvelled over by millions of fight fans, young and old, every year.
3: Juan Manuel Marquez KO Manny Pacquiao. December 2012.
A KO from more modern times but a one-punch knockout that more than holds its own with any in history. In the fourth and final fight of their nip-and-tuck series, Marquez caught an onrushing Pacquiao with a monster of a right hand, the bomb landing flush on Pacquiao’s jaw, sending him down on his face with zero chance of being able to beat a count of 50, let alone ten. Truly one of those KO’s that gives a fan a strange, queasy feeling.
4: Julian Jackson KO Herol Graham. November 1990.
It could be argued that Jackson was further behind on points, or that he deserved to be, than Marciano was prior to his KO of Walcott – so comprehensively, so embarrassingly, was Jackson being outboxed by Graham, albeit for just three rounds compared to “The Rock’s” 12 rounds. But Jackson, his eyesight seriously compromised, dug in and, perhaps sensing more than seeing an opening, uncorked a missile of a right hand that totally vapourised defensive master Graham. This one was just plain shocking.
5: Mike Weaver KO John Tate. March 1980.
Never has a heavyweight title challenger been so utterly and devastatingly behind on the score-cards, only to snatch victory from the jaws of frustrating defeat with so little time left on the clock. Weaver, fighting potential star of the future “Big” John Tate, left it to the last minute of the last round before unleashing his in-close left hook to the sweet spot. The punch travelled a short distance, Tate’s contorted body and his fighting career taking one humongous crash. This was a classic case of a KO that was so damaging, so mentally troubling, that the victim of it was never the same fighter again.