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.

Stevenson Launches New Kronk Era with One Punch

by Kieran Mulvaney

Adonis Stevenson - Photo: Ed Mulholland

Boxing can be like a game of concussive chess, a cerebral challenge as much as a physical confrontation, two men laying and avoiding traps and adapting to changes in strategy over 12 three-minute rounds.

Or it can be shockingly abbreviated and violently conclusive, with one punch sufficient to end proceedings with whiplash rapidity.

In Montreal on Saturday night it was the latter. Chad Dawson was relieved of his light-heavyweight crown by Adonis Stevenson a mere 76 seconds after the bell rang to begin the contest. It's entirely possible that some of the multitude who, as is the case these days, filled the ring to capacity during Michael Buffer's opening orations had not even reached their seats before it was time for them to turn around and clamber back between the ropes again.

Read the Complete Chad Dawson vs. Adonis Stevenson Fight Recap on HBO.com.

CompuBox Analysis: Dawson vs. Stevenson

by CompuBox

Saturday night's fight between WBC light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson and Adonis Stevenson bucks several well-established boxing trends. Consider:

* Champions usually enjoy the home ring advantage but here Dawson is defending in Montreal, the adopted hometown of the Haitian-born Stevenson. Worse yet for Dawson, they are fighting at the Bell Centre, where Stevenson has fought his last five matches and seven of his last nine.

* The older fighter usually has an edge in experience, but this time the 33-year-old Dawson -- two years younger than Stevenson (who turned pro at age 29)  -- has logged more rounds in championship fights (93) than Stevenson has registered as a professional (79).

* Once a fighter leaves a trainer, he stays gone. But Dawson, a 7-1 favorite over Stevenson,  has returned to Eddie Mustafa Muhammad after splitting with John Scully, who was his guide for the last three fights.

Will the fight also defy conventional wisdom and actually be a barn-burner?  Their CompuBox histories offer the following clues:

Read the Complete Chad Dawson vs. Adonis Stevenson CompuBox Analysis on HBO.com.

Dawson Back on Track After Weighty Issues

by Kieran Mulvaney

Andre Ward, Chad Dawson - Photo: Will Hart

There is no shame in losing to Andre Ward. Every one of the 26 professional opponents he has faced has done so. But for Ward's most recent victim – light-heavyweight titlist Chad Dawson, who faces Adonis Stevenson on HBO Boxing After Dark on Saturday – the 10th round stoppage loss he suffered last September was only partly due to the skillful way in which Ward routinely beats people up. A lot of it had to do with the decision Dawson made to move down from 175 pounds to 168, and challenge Ward on the latter's super-middleweight turf.

"I wrote a check my body couldn't physically cash," Dawson said recently to Tris Dixon of Britain's Boxing News magazine. "He's a great fighter and I would love that rematch, but at 175 pounds I would never touch super-middleweight again."

While moving up through the weight divisions over the course of a career is the rule rather than the exception, Dawson is the latest in a relatively short line of recent professional prizefighters to find that shedding pounds and moving down in weight rarely works out well.

Roy Jones was never the same after moving back to 175 pounds following his brief venture into the heavyweight division in 2003. Sugar Ray Leonard was taken apart when he challenged Terry Norris for a title at junior middleweight – a weight at which he hadn't fought in seven years. Oscar De La Hoya dropped down to welterweight to meet a Manny Pacquiao who was moving up from lightweight, and was beaten so badly he soon retired.

There were additional reasons for all those outcomes: Jones at his peerless peak dominated foes with almost superhuman reflexes, and once they slowed a fraction with age, he descended to the realm of mere mortals; Leonard, at 35, was taking on a 24-year-old champion who is now enshrined alongside him in the Hall of Fame; and De La Hoya was reaching the end of his storied career anyway. But the strains placed on their bodies to squeeze extra pounds out of their system in all cases almost certainly contributed to their respective demises.

Why is it so rare for boxers to drop down in weight, and so rarely a positive move when they do? For one thing, if it were easy to lose six or seven pounds, we'd all be doing it. For another, the examples above all involve boxers in their thirties, when bodies are mature and metabolisms battle with extra determination to hold on to every spare ounce.

Plus, chances are that a boxer– if he fights, for example, at light-heavyweight –has already had to lose 10 pounds or more just to reach the 175-pound limit. Dropping down to super-middleweight is therefore a case of dropping not seven pounds but 17; and the final few in particular of those pounds must be wrung out of a frame that is already virtually fat free and bone dry.

Small wonder, then, that rehydrating once the weigh-in is over can cause a boxer to expand like a sponge dropped in a bathtub – Dawson entered the ring against Ward weighing 192 pounds, 24 more than he had registered on the scales the previous day – or that a fighter can be drained by the whole process of squeezing himself into his usual weight class, let alone one that requires even more sacrifice.

It is of course possible that Dawson would have lost to Ward that night no matter the weight at which they fought; the man from Oakland is regarded as one of the top two talents in the game for a reason. Maybe, if Dawson resumes his winning ways atop the light-heavyweight division, we will eventually find out, should Ward exhaust his options at 168 pounds and move up in search of new challenges.

Before then, of course, Dawson has more immediate concerns: specifically, how to overcome the challenge of once-beaten Stevenson, a power-punching fellow southpaw. Stevenson, a career super-middleweight, is moving up a division – a move more common than Dawson's effort to move down. Dawson will be aiming to make sure it is no more successful.

Steward’s Spirit Felt by Both Dawson, Stevenson

by Kieran Mulvaney

When Chad Dawson and Adonis Stevenson meet in Montreal on HBO Boxing After Dark on Saturday night, it will be a clash of two southpaws with different styles. Defending light-heavyweight titlist Dawson is a technician, a boxer-puncher with emphasis on the boxer; Stevenson is an action fighter with knockout power. But aside from their profession, their favored hand and their weight class, they have one other thing in common: As Eric Raskin notes in the fight overview on HBO.com, both have been trained by Emanuel Steward, whose insight for so long elucidated the sport for fans and clarified strategy and tactics for fighters.

Dawson turned to Steward at the end of 2010, after losing his light-heavyweight belt to Jean Pascal.

"At this stage of my career, I'm only going to work with fighters who can achieve greatness, and I see greatness in Chad Dawson," Steward enthused at the time. "Chad Dawson will regain his light heavyweight title and perhaps add titles in the super middleweight and cruiserweight divisions. He is that talented."

The first step in Dawson’s recovery from the Pascal loss was a meeting with Adrian Diaconu in May 2011. Steward was in the corner for that clash; during the build-up to it, he spoke optimistically of how his new charge, at times infamously diffident in the ring, was becoming imbued with the spirit of his most famous pupil. "Chad is very talented. He just has to remain focused and aggressive," Steward said. "He can be a little too laid back. He trained at the Kronk Gym. He's picked up a bit of Tommy Hearns' aggression."

Their first fight together yielded the desired victory, after which boxer and trainer pivoted toward a matchup with new light-heavyweight kingpin Bernard Hopkins, who had defeated Pascal on the same card as Dawson’s win over Diaconu. But with the clash just a few weeks away, the two men parted company, with Dawson apparently preferring to train in the Poconos mountains rather than travel back to Detroit and the Kronk.

So be it; such things happen often in boxing. Steward had helped Dawson get back on track, and the boxer would ultimately defeat Hopkins in the biggest win of his career. Steward continued with his ringside work for HBO and as a trainer; in early 2012, he joined forces with a hard-hitting super-middleweight about whom he could not have been more enthusiastic. His name was Adonis Stevenson.

"I've had many world champions but his punching power and intensity is not normal. I'm very excited about Adonis and I can't see any 168-pounder not having a very tough time against him," he raved. Stevenson’s preparation at the Kronk for a scheduled 12-rounder against Jesus Gonzales was "phenomenal": Of all the champions to have trained at the famous gym, he said, "Adonis has created the most excitement."

Stevenson destroyed Gonzales inside a round; two months later, in April, he needed only two rounds to knock out Noe Gonzalez.

Stevenson fought again last October, but this time Steward could not be in his corner. He had been taken seriously ill and been hospitalized; two weeks after Stevenson defeated Don George by TKO, Steward died.

Stevenson, who said Steward was "like a father" to him, said recently that, "I didn’t want to believe he was gone and passed away."

In that, he is far from alone. Almost eight months later, Steward’s passing still hurts and his absence – his knowledge, his enthusiasm, his warmth – is missed around boxing on a daily basis. But his influence lives on, and it will find expression on Saturday when two men meet each other in the ring, each of them looking to deploy skills and techniques that Emanuel Steward taught them.

Related: Inside HBO Boxing remembers Manny Steward.

Andre Ward Scouting Report: Dawson vs. Stevenson

Andre Ward previews Saturday's matchup between Chad Dawson and Adonis Stevenson.

Unorthodox: Dissimilar Southpaws Clash in Dawson vs. Stevenson

 by Eric Raskin

Chad Dawson, a light heavyweight for 12 of his last 13 bouts, found out in the hardest way possible that he doesn’t belong one division below. Adonis Stevenson, a super middleweight for the first 20 contests of his 21-fight pro career, is about to find out, possibly in a less-than-gentle way, whether he belongs one division above.

In his most recent fight, Dawson took an enormous gamble and came away, like so many gamblers do, with only a bad-beat story to show for it. He moved down a weight class and fought arguably the best all-around fighter in the world today, super middleweight champ Andre Ward, and whether it was the weight loss or the talent of his opponent that was to blame, Dawson suffered three knockdowns en route to a 10th-round TKO loss. Now it’s Stevenson’s turn to gamble. Though relatively untested, the Quebec-based Haitian is 35 years old and can’t wait around much longer, so he’s hopping up a weight class (after one tune-up bout fought at a catchweight of 173 pounds) and challenging the class of the 175-pound division in Dawson.

The seven-pound difference between the super middle and light heavy limits makes for an interesting driver of discussion, but weight isn’t likely to determine the outcome of this fight. The more impactful contrasts lie in style and experience. Dawson is a battle-tested technician. Stevenson is a knockout artist without a top-10 contender on his resume. It’s not as though Dawson and Stevenson have nothing in common; they’re both southpaws and they both were briefly trained by the late, legendary Emanuel Steward. But aside from those two shared traits, the champion and challenger who will meet at Montreal’s Bell Centre on June 8 are coming at this fight from diametrically opposed angles.

And that is often a formula for explosive collisions.

Read the Complete Chad Dawson vs. Adonis Stevenson Fight Overview at HBO.com.

Closing the Year with Boxing’s Best

by Kieran Mulvaney

What to do when HBO’s live boxing broadcasts have wrapped for the year? Revisit the very best bouts from an action-packed 2012, of course. The last 12 months have provided some jaw-dropping action, and for five days, beginning December 25, HBO will be showcasing seven of the year’s best examples of boxing brilliance. All times are ET/PT.


Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto
Tuesday, December 25 at 11 PM


In May, Puerto Rican superstar Cotto put his junior middleweight belt on the line against pound-for-pound king Mayweather. In one of the finest performances of his likely Hall-of-Fame career, Cotto pushed Money May to the edge, forcing Mayweather to dig deeper than he has had to in at least 10 years.

 

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Sergio Martinez
Wednesday, December 26 at 11 PM

 

Martinez was regarded as the true middleweight champion. But Chavez had the belt he coveted, and Martinez agitated for over a year for an opportunity to take it from him. When the chance came, the Argentine appeared well on his way to doing what he had sought to do, until a dramatic finale that was one of the most explosive rounds of the year.

 

Robert Guerrero vs. Andre Berto
Thursday, December 27 at 11 PM

 

Three years ago, Guerrero was campaigning as a junior lightweight, having begun his professional career as a featherweight. One month ago, he appeared on HBO World Championship Boxing in just his second bout as a welterweight, taking on a hard-hitting former 147-pound-title-holder whose own professional debut had been at 162 pounds – almost 37 pounds heavier than Guerrero’s. But Guerrero was the aggressor, dragging Berto into an old-fashioned down-and-dirty street fight that was one of the roughest, toughest and best of 2012.

 

Antonio DeMarco vs. Adrien Broner
Friday, December 28 at 11 PM

 

Flashy Adrien “The Problem” Broner inspires a gamut of emotions – and it’s safe to say that few if any of them are ‘indifference.’ Love him or hate him, it is hard not to respect him; increasingly tipped as the sport’s next big star, Broner went a long way to establishing his bona fides with a devastating and dominant performance against Mexican DeMarco.

 

Andre Ward vs. Chad Dawson
Friday, December 28 at 11:45 PM

 

Light-heavyweight titlist Dawson took the unusual step of dropping down in weight to take on super middleweight kingpin Ward. He may still be regretting it, after Ward – in many pundits’ eyes, second only to Mayweather on the pound-for-pound list – opened his full bag of tricks and cemented his place among boxing’s elite.

 

Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado
Saturday, December 29 at 11 PM

 

The moment this junior welterweight clash was signed, boxing fans everywhere had the date circled on their calendars. Both Rios and Alvarado entered the contest unbeaten and with reputations for possessing that rare combination of immovable object and irresistible force. There seemed no way this could fail to be a serious Fight of the Year candidate, and so it proved. Each man dished out and received hellacious punishment, and the contest swayed back and forth, with first one man and the other seizing advantage and momentum, until an ending that seemed to come almost out of the blue.

 

Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez 4
Saturday, Dec. 29 at 11:40 PM

 

Pacquiao and Marquez had pursued each other like Ahab and the whale, across eight years and 36 rounds, before meeting for a fourth time on December 8. Each man insisted beforehand that this would be their final battle, but after six rounds that exceeded even the dizzying heights of their previous encounters, and a conclusive, concussive ending that was among the most shocking and emphatic in years, who would bet against a fifth?