HBO Boxing Insiders Year End Picks: KO of the Year

Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, it's as good a time as any to take a look back at a stacked year of fights on HBO. HBO Boxing Insiders made their selections for the top everything from this year's HBO fights. Next up, KO of the Year.

Previously: Fighter of the Year, Breakthrough HBO Fighter, Best Blow, Best HBO Boxing Moments, Trainer of the Year, Round of the Year

Kieran Mulvaney: Gennady Golovkin KO3 Matthew Macklin

Adonis Stevenson's annihilation of Chad Dawson and the cold-eyed destruction of Ismayl Sillakh by Sergey Kovalev are high on the list, but Golovkin's one-punch body shot stoppage of Macklin was the kind of performance that burns itself into the memory. Macklin, a quality contender who had pushed Sergio Martinez to the brink, looked confident before the fight, deeply concerned after taking his opponent's first couple of punches, and broken in half after Golovkin dropped him with a shot that cracked his rib and kept him on the canvas for several minutes. It was an emphatic end to a powerfully dominant performance from the Kazakh-born sensation -- one that announced he is a true force to be reckoned with in the middleweight division.

Eric Raskin: Gennady Golovkin KO3 Matthew Macklin

Because I didn't care for the way in which Stevenson-Dawson was stopped -- the ref never asked Dawson to step forward and called what struck me as a slightly panicky halt in a fight of that magnitude -- I have to pick GGG's bodyshot blastout of Macklin. This wasn't like Bernard Hopkins' bodyshot stoppage of Oscar De La Hoya, which did the job but didn't look like much. Golovkin's left hook to Macklin's middle packed all the aesthetic punch you could ask for. You could almost feel Macklin's pain from your living room couch -- especially when he was still struggling for breath as Michael Buffer announced the result a couple of minutes later.

Nat Gottlieb:  Adonis Stevenson KO1 Chad Dawson

Complete shocker as Dawson, despite his loss at 168 to Ward, was still considered the man at 175. Adonis took over The Man status in short order with a brutal left cross that nearly lifted Dawson off his feet and sent him down flat on his back. Dawson bravely got up to beat the count, but the ref took one look at the fighter, who probably didn't know where he even was, and waved it off.

Tim Smith: Mikey Garcia KO8 Roman Martinez

There is nothing quite like a perfectly executed left hook to the liver to bring matters in the ring to a quick and decisive conclusion. And that is exactly what Mikey Garcia did when he landed that perfect KO shot on Roman "Rocky'' Martinez at 56 seconds of the eighth round of their WBO super featherweight match. When Garcia landed the shot, Martinez was frozen like a block of ice from its paralyzing effect. The victory solidified Garcia's credentials a legitimate star.

Hamilton: Adonis Stevenson KO1 Chad Dawson

Adonis Stevenson knocking out Chad Dawson in the first round. This was the single most emphatic "Hello, goodbye" moment of the year in boxing. A changing of the guard.

Michael Gluckstadt: Adonis Stevenson KO1 Chad Dawson

There was no KO more emphatic or dramatic than Adonis Stevenson proving out Emmanuel Steward's prediction that he would be the number one fighter at light heavyweight, and doing so in the first round.

Before 2014, the Best of 2013

By Kieran Mulvaney

Photo Credit: Will Hart

Households across the country have had the opportunity to exchange gifts and wear garish sweaters. But for boxing fans, the most wonderful time of the year presents a special challenge. Granted, you're grateful for that tie, and who doesn't need more socks, but where's the sanctioned, televised violence? Sure, Uncle Ernie and Cousin Jerome might square up after too much eggnog, but it's hardly the same, is it? And it may very well be a wonderful life, but I think we can all agree that James Stewart is no Ruslan Provodnikov.

Never fear, HBO Boxing is here. To help bridge the gap until our first live fight card of 2014 on January 18, we're bringing you the best of 2013. If you missed any of these 10 fights the first time around, you can watch them now on HBO.com:

Carl Froch vs. Mikkel Kessler II

Three years after Kessler scored a narrow decision win over Froch in his native Denmark, the Englishman extended an invite for a rematch in London, and the result was another 12 rounds of first-rate action.

Round to Watch: In round 5, Kessler landed a hard left-right combination that buckled Froch, only for the Brit to shake it off and take it to the Dane for the rest of the round.

 

Sergey Kovalev vs. Nathan Cleverly

Kovalev's reputation as a fearsome puncher preceded his HBO debut against Cleverly, and it was only enhanced after he blew away Cleverly and took his light-heavyweight belt in the process.

Round to Watch: Although it wasn't the final frame of the contest, round 3 was the one in which the fight was effectively knocked out of the Welshman, courtesy of a pair of heavy knockdowns.

 

Timothy Bradley Jr. vs. Ruslan Provodnikov

Bradley's first outing since his highly controversial 2013 win over Manny Pacquiao was nearly a disastrous one, as he (and the world) was introduced to the relentless punching power of Siberia's Provodnikov.

Round to Watch: Round 12 was the most dramatic final three minutes of professional prizefighting since Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. nearly pulled victory from the jaws of defeat against Sergio Martinez last fall.

 

Miguel Cotto vs. Delvin Rodriguez

Fan favorite Cotto returned to HBO after back-to-back losses in 2013, and rebounded in style, with arguably his most emphatic victory in years.

Round to Watch: Officially, the contest ended in the second, but it was all but over before that, as Cotto came bouncing out of his corner on his toes and spent the first three minutes tearing into Rodriguez with his long-vaunted but much-missed left hook.

 

Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado II

In a rematch of their hellacious first encounter, Rios and Alvarado once again thrilled fans with a bruising battle in which neither man gave any quarter, both ended the night battered, but only one man was beaten.

Round to Watch: Just try and watch the second round without your jaw dropping. Go ahead. Try it.

 

Gennady Golovkin vs. Matthew Macklin

After rolling to two stoppage wins on HBO, Golovkin took on the sternest challenge of his professional career in the form of former title challenger Macklin. The aftermath saw a lot more passengers clambering aboard the Golovkin bandwagon.

Round to Watch: The third-round ending is a study in violent artistry, as Golovkin maneuvers Macklin into position before dropping the hammer blow.

 

Timothy Bradley Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez

Bradley's reward for escaping Provodnikov was a pay-per-view bout against Mexican veteran Marquez, and the result was two men putting on one of the year's best displays of skilful boxing-punching.

Round to Watch: For the second Bradley fight in the row, the final round had the most drama, the result of the contest seemingly hinging on the final three minutes – and even the very last punch of the fight.

 

Adonis Stevenson vs. Chad Dawson

Dawson was returning to light-heavyweight after an unsuccessful attempt to wrest the super-middleweight crown from Andre Ward. Few had heard of Stevenson before the opening bell; it only took 79 seconds for that to change dramatically.

Round to Watch: Let's put it this way. Once the fight begins, try not to go to the bathroom or the kitchen, or even to sneeze.

 

Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios

Eleven months after the sudden and disastrous end to his fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao returned to action against Rios, in the first pay-per-view boxing card to be broadcast from China.

Round to Watch: Bit by bit, round by round, Pacquiao's speed proved too much for Rios; the final frame, when Rios made one last effort to turn the tide, was the best of the bunch.

 

James Kirkland vs. Glen Tapia

There are boxing bouts, and there are fights. This was a fight.

Round to Watch: All of them. Seriously. All of them.

 

HBO Boxing Insiders Year End Picks: Best Blow

Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, it's as good a time as any to take a look back at a stacked year of fights on HBO. HBO Boxing Insiders made their selections for the top everything from this year's HBO fights. Next up, Best Blow -- not necessarily a KO, but a punch that because of its degree of difficulty, precision, improbability, impact or whatever else, made you go "whoa."

Previously: Fighter of the Year, Breakthrough HBO Fighter

Kieran Mulvaney: Adonis Stevenson's first round left hand versus Chad Dawson

It's a rare and impressive thing, the ability of a fighter to announce his arrival on the world stage with a solitary punch, but Stevenson -- long touted by the late Emanuel Steward as a knockout artist with huge potential -- did just that. His left hand exploded on Dawson's jaw before the light-heavyweight champion had even had a chance to get warmed up, and although Dawson made it to his feet, his senses had already jumped out of the ring and run toward the locker room, prompting the fight to be stopped and launching Stevenson's HBO career.

Eric Raskin: James Kirkland's final punch versus Glen Tapia

I could just as easily call this my "Worst Blow," since it was a dirty punch from Kirkland and the result of a poor refereeing performance by Steve Smoger. The punch never should have happened. But it did, and it made me cringe more than any other shot delivered in 2013. For sheer viciousness and violence, nothing topped that last left hand from Kirkland that left us all fearing for Tapia's well-being.

Nat Gottlieb: Wladimir Klitschko's second round jab against Alexander Povetkin

This is a tough one. I remember saying "whoa" when Wladimir Klitschko knocked Povetkin down to all fours with a just a jab in the second round. It was a big surprise to see a durable guy like Povetkin go down like that early in a big fight. Povetkin had never been knocked down before, either as an amateur or a pro.

Tim Smith: Gennady Golvokin's second round left hook against Curtis Stevens

The left hook that Gennady Golovkin landed on the jaw of Curtis Stevens in the second round that sent Stevens falling backwards to the canvas. It was the first significant shot that Golovkin landed in the fight. The wide-eyed expression on Stevens's face as he sat on the canvas staring up at Golovkin told the story of the fight. It was a combination of fear and surprise. It's the same look you get when you take the first drop on a steep, fast falling rollercoaster.

Hamilton Nolan: Golovkin's third round body shot versus Matthew Macklin

Golovkin's body shot that dropped Matthew Macklin for good. Never will you see a more pure example of a devastating left hook to the body, an art that only a select few in boxing still practice well.

Michael Gluckstadt:  Golovkin's third round body shot versus Matthew Macklin

Matthew Macklin is a tough fighter who's shown he can take a punch. But he was no match for a well-placed left hook to the body from Golovkin. It was as if Golovkin flipped the "off" switch that had kept Macklin on his feet. If I hadn't seen him fight in Atlantic City recently, I'd assumed Macklin was still lying on the canvas at Foxwoods.

HBO Boxing Insiders Year End Picks: Breakthrough HBO Fighter

Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, it's as good a time as any to take a look back at a stacked year of fights on HBO. HBO Boxing Insiders made their selections for the top everything from this year's HBO fights. Next up, Breakthrough HBO Fighter.

Previously: Fighter of the Year.

Kieran Mulvaney: Adonis Stevenson

It's tempting to nominate Gennady Golovkin, who only made his HBO debut last year and is now widely regarded as being, at worst, on the fringe of many pound-for-pound lists. But I'm going with Stevenson, who exploded onto HBO with a first-round obliteration of Chad Dawson (followed by a 5-mile sprint around the ring) and hasn't looked back. Honorable mentions to Sergey Kovalev and Ruslan Provodnikov.

Eric Raskin: Ruslan Provodnikov

There were so many excellent candidates for this one, and I might have given it to Adonis Stevenson if I hadn't already named him my Fighter of the Year. Instead, in a narrow decision over Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, Guillermo Rigondeaux, and Mikey Garcia, I'm picking Provodnikov because of the leap he made relative to my expectations coming into the year. I assumed he was an ESPN2-level boxer, little more than a clubfighter. By nearly defeating Tim Bradley and then forcing a surrender out of Mike Alvarado, the all-action Provodnikov proved me all sorts of wrong.

Nat Gottlieb: Gennady Golovkin

I give it to Golovkin over Stevenson because people already knew about Stevenson coming into this year. Golovkin was largely unknown stateside until this year when he exploded onto the boxing scene by knocking out all four of his opponents in breathtaking fashion. The future is limitless with this guy. The problem is finding opponents for him.

Tim Smith: Adonis Stevenson

Adonis Stevenson is soaring in rarified air. It is not often that a fighter can take over a single division with the kind of concussive force that Stevenson displayed in 2013. Doing it the hard way, starting with the best lightweight heavyweight in the sport, Chad Dawson, Stevenson smashed his way through the division. He won all three of his 2013 matches by knockout. Now he stands as the best light heavyweight champion in the game, setting up an explosive 2014. 

Hamilton Nolan: Adonis Stevenson

He knocked off the champ, and knocked out the challengers, and covered the most distance of any fighter in terms of vaulting from relative unknown status to solidified champion status. He should beat Kovalev, but it'll be close.

Michael Gluckstadt: Adonis Stevenson

"Superman" came in to his bout against Chad Dawson as a 7-1 underdog. It'd have been one thing to eke out a win over the lineal light heavyweight champion, but knocking him out before the first round was even out? That was truly shocking. And he followed it up with two impressive defenses, showing that his signature victory was no fluke.

HBO Boxing Insiders Year End Picks: Fighter of the Year

Photo Credit: Will Hart

With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, it's as good a time as any to take a look back at a stacked year of fights on HBO. HBO Boxing Insiders made their selections for the top everything from this year's HBO fights. First up, Fighter of the Year.

Kieran Mulvaney:  Gennady Golovkin

There are some strong candidates -- Mikey Garcia and Timothy Bradley among them -- but this ultimately comes down to a choice between two men: Adonis Stevenson and Gennady Golovkin. Each fought three times on HBO in 2013, scoring knockouts each time; and although Stevenson's first-round stoppage of Chad Dawson was arguably the single best win of their combined six, the overall level of competition, and the growing sense that Golovkin might be on his way to being a truly special fighter, means I just give the nod to the man from Kazakhstan.

Eric Raskin: Adonis Stevenson

This is a two-man race for me, between Stevenson and Timothy Bradley, and while Bradley fought a higher level of opposition overall, I give the nod to Stevenson for unexpected dominance in his three HBO fights. He was an underdog against Chad Dawson, and he won by knockout in one round to claim the lineal 175-pound championship. He wasn't an underdog against Tavoris Cloud or Tony Bellew, but he turned them both away as convincingly and skillfully as anyone could have predicted.

Nat Gottlieb: Adonis Stevenson.

Stevenson fought three times on HBO this year and won every fight by knockout. His rare, one-punch KO power excited the boxing world and created a new star. While Gennady Golovkin was a prime contender, the nod here goes to Stevenson because he fought better competition. It wasn't Golovkin's fault, of course. Just that the top middleweights didn't want any part of fighting him; he was that scary.

Tim Smith: Gennady Golovkin

Gennady Golovkin was one of the busiest boxers in the business in 2013, fighting four times – three of them on HBO. There are keep-busy fights and fights that propel a boxer into the elite class, and all of Golovkin's matches launched him toward stardom.

Hamilton Nolan: Gennady Golovkin

Everyone who was paying close attention knew that Golovkin was the real deal before this year. But this year, everyone, period, learned that Golovkin is the real deal. He is the most feared fighter in boxing, with good reason. Someone please make Andre Ward fight this man before they both get old.

Michael Gluckstadt: Timothy Bradley

He might not be an exciting new face, but Timothy Bradley had two of the most impressive wins of anyone fighting on HBO this year. His willingness to engage Ruslan Provodnikov in a fierce battle may not have been the safest strategy, but the resilience and bravery he showcased while fighting (through a concussion, no less) is indelible to fans of the sport. Following it up with a well-fought victory against Juan Manuel Marquez -- the guy who beat the guy Bradley "beat" – cements his case as the year's best HBO fighter.

Stevenson, Kovalev Annihilate Challengers, Remain on Collision Course

by Kieran Mulvaney

Tony Bellew (left), Adonis Stevenson (right) - Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

Before Saturday night's light-heavyweight double feature, the talk was of the prospect that the two favorites, Sergey Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson, could be on a collision course in a mouth-watering light heavyweight clash for the ages. After both men disposed of their foes with consummate and concussive ease, the talk turned to shouting.

Kovalev's turn was first, and it was the briefer of the two outings. Whether for reasons personal or geopolitical, Ismayl Sillakh, the Ukrainian challenger for the Russian's world title belt, seemed from a distance to have gotten under Kovalev's skin, as evidenced by the way the defending champion taunted him verbally in the first round as he stalked him around the ring. The rangier Sillakh sought to keep his opponent at a distance -- a fine strategy in principle against a knockout artist who goes by "Krusher," but difficult to pull off for long. Indeed, shortly after hearing the bell to begin the second round, Sillakh was likely hearing a lot more of them, courtesy of Kovalev's right hand.

The first right made its mark about 30 seconds into the second frame, and looked to have landed somewhere around Sillakh's left ear, scrambling his equilibrium and depositing him on his back. Sillakh was swiftly to his feet, but even as referee Marlon Wright completed the mandatory eight count, Kovalev was like a pit bull straining on an invisible leash, snorting and growling and desperate for an opportunity to rip apart his prey. As soon as Wright waved them back together, Kovalev flew across the ring, landed another right hand that effectively ended the fight and nearly decapitated Sillakh in the process, and somehow found time to land two straight follow-up lefts to help his falling opponent to the canvas, where he then lay, under the ropes and wondering where he was for a while.

Wright didn't even bother to count; he could have started reading "Moby Dick" and Sillakh wouldn't have been vertical before Ahab disappeared beneath the waves. It was a frighteningly impressive performance for the Chelyabinsk-born Floridian, who moves to 23-0-1 with 21 knockouts. Asked by HBO's Max Kellerman whom he would like to fight next, Kovalev initially proffered the "whoever my promoter wants me to fight" stock answer until, after Kellerman gently pressed, he smiled and said, "Adonis."

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CompuBox Analysis: Adonis Stevenson vs. Tony Bellew

by CompuBox

Who would have ever thought on January 1, 2013 that by late-November Adonis Stevenson would be a contender for Fighter of the Year? But after avenging his only defeat by knocking out Darnell Boone in six rounds, winning the WBC light heavyweight title in 76 seconds from Chad Dawson and defending it by TKO over ex-titlist Tavoris Cloud, the 36-year-old southpaw is in prime position to make a strong case for the honor.

On Saturday, Stevenson hopes to put a bow on a life-changing year when he takes on mandatory challenger Tony Bellew, who is looking to create his own dreams by capturing a major title on the road. The question is will he?

Statistical factors that may shape the outcome include:

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Can Stevenson and Kovalev Take the Next Step on Their Collision Path?

by Tim Smith

Adonis Stevenson - Credit: Will Hart

Rarely does a boxer announce his arrival onto the scene and state his intent to capture an entire division with the kind of loud, concussive flourish light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson did this year.

Stevenson smashed Chad Dawson, the lineal light heavyweight champion, with a devastating first round knockout in June. To demonstrate that the victory wasn't a fluke, he vanquished a worthy successor in beating Tavoris Cloud into submission, forcing him to retire in his corner in the seventh round in September.

"He was the one who was supposed to get knocked out by Chad,'' said Javon "Sugar'' Hill, Stevenson's trainer. "Chad was supposed to be superior and the comment that they had about Adonis was they had to Google him to find out who he was. People thought he was a fluke. So he had to come back and outbox Tavoris Cloud. Those were great accomplishments. It showed his maturity and his confidence.''

Not many doubt Stevenson's credentials anymore. He has fought his way into the conversation for 2013 Fighter of the Year. He has the supreme confidence that comes with being a reigning champion. Now that he has reached the top it's all about staying there.

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A Contrast in Conquerors

by Eric Raskin


The record books will show that Adonis Stevenson and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. both won light heavyweight fights on the night of Sept. 29, 2013. That is quite literally where the similarities end.

While Stevenson elevated his stock significantly by shutting out and stopping Tavoris Cloud in his first defense of the lineal 175-pound title, Chavez’s reputation was decimated in what three California judges, but hardly anybody else, deemed a decision victory over journeyman Brian Vera. At age 27, Chavez’s questionable training habits are causing him to regress as both a fighter and an attraction. At age 36, Stevenson is still approaching his peak and is on the verge of genuine stardom earned with his fists, not his heritage.

In the opening bout of the split-site doubleheader, Stevenson returned to the scene of his shocking title win three months ago over Chad Dawson, the Bell Centre in Montreal. The southpaw self-styled “Superman” soared past Dawson with a first-round knockout, but the mere 76 seconds of action left us with plenty of questions. For seven rounds against former beltholder Cloud, Stevenson provided answers.

Read the Complete Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Bryan Vera Fight Recap on HBO.com.

CompuBox Analysis: Stevenson vs. Cloud

by CompuBox

On June 8, Adonis Stevenson lived out a dream by winning the WBC light heavyweight title by scoring a one-punch, 76-second knockout over Chad Dawson before his adopted home crowd at the Bell Centre, where he had fought his last five fights, all of which were KO victories. The celebratory displays were spine-tingling and the crowd noise was ear-splitting. It was the best of boxing, for the power-punching Haitian was able to transform a difficult past into a bright future with a single punch.

On Saturday, the rest of his fistic life will begin with his first defense against former IBF titlist Tavoris Cloud, who, in his last fight, had lost the belt to 48-year-old Bernard Hopkins. With the win, "B-Hop" broke his own record for oldest man ever to win a major boxing title.

Will Stevenson re-ignite the magic before his beloved Bell Centre crowd or will Cloud rain on his parade with a torrent of punches?

Statistical factors that may influence the outcome include:

Read the Complete CompuBox Analysis of Adonis Stevenson vs. Tavoris Cloud on HBO.com.