As the end of the year approaches, HBO Boxing Insiders take a look back at the fights that aired on the network and HBO PPV in 2015. Here, they make their selections for the Best Blow landed this year.
Kieran Mulvaney: Francisco Vargas Lands a Right Hand on Takashi Miura, Round 9
In a fight that had already had two acts (Act One: Vargas Nearly Knocks Out Miura; Act Two: Miura Asserts Himself and Beats Vargas Up), the third and final act, so much shorter than the others, opened with a bolt from the blue in the form of a Vargas right hand. That punch short-circuited Miura and sent him down hard; and even though Miura stood up to beat the count, the repercussions of that blow were too great and a follow-up Vargas barrage prompted Tony Weeks to stop the fight.
Eric Raskin: Canelo's Uppercut vs. Kirkland
I was tempted to pick Jessie Vargas' final-round knee-buckler against Tim Bradley, but as we all know, that Best Blow contender was immediately followed by a Worst Blown Call contender. So I'll go obvious…with a twist. Rather than select the knockout blow from the Canelo-Kirkland fight, I'll take the sizzling shot that softened Kirkland up, the right uppercut that Kirkland leaned directly into that floored him for the first time in the round. A few seconds later, he would go down for good.
Nat Gottlieb: Ortiz's Round 7 Uppercut Against Jennings
The uppercut Luis Ortiz landed on Bryant Jennings in round 7 was the best blow of 2015 for more than one reason. On the surface it was a great shot because it was the beginning of the end for Jennings. More than that, it was a blow that marked a new era in the heavyweight division. With the loss by perennial champion Wladimir Klitschko to Tyson Fury, the door is wide open for a new star in the heavyweight division. With that punch Ortiz stepped into the picture.
Oliver Goldstein: Ortiz's Round 7 Uppercut Against Jennings
Jennings got up, only to be stopped later, but Luis Ortiz's left uppercut which sent Jennings face first into the canvas was my blow of the year. On a deeply significant night for Ortiz, which makes him one of Tyson Fury's likeliest contenders next year, this delivered severe notice of his power, smashing Jennings's head back in the clinch and crashing him to the canvas.
Diego Morilla: Canelo Knocks Out Kirkland
When you see a fighter rushing to celebrate a stoppage win without even looking back to see if his foe has managed to survive the count, you're not witnessing an act of arrogance. You're just watching a guy who is fully aware of his own punching power abandoning the scene of the crime after knowing for a fact that his bombs have already landed. A true marksman doesn't need to keep his eye on the scope to watch his prey fall to the ground. He knows the poor creature is done for as soon as the bullet leaves the gun. And that was young Saul Alvarez in Houston, after delivering his devastating right hand to James Kirkland's chin, one that spun the otherwise durable Kirkland in mid-air and sent him on a one-way, face-first trip to the canvas. One fraction of a second ahead of all of us, Canelo knew what he had done. And he was already standing on the second-rope turnbuckles of a neutral corner with his hands in the air in celebration while the referee was waving off the bout. That's how demolishing this knockout was.
Carlos Acevedo: Ortiz's Round 7 Uppercut Against Jennings
Saul Alvarez probably deserves this spot as well for his lights-out kayo of James Kirkland, but when a heavyweight lands a precise bomb, extraordinary things can happen. In this case, it was Luis Ortiz taking a step back and countering an onrushing Bryant Jennings with a perfectly timed uppercut that could be heard across the Eastern Seaboard. Jennings crashed, face-first, like a house hit by a wrecking ball. Incredibly, Jennings somehow beat the count but the fight was stopped moments later after a follow-up barrage from Ortiz. Heavyweights remain intriguing because of the implied relationship between size and power. Against Jennings, Ortiz proved that such a correlation, every once in a while, is true.
Bob Canobbio, President and Founder of CompuBox: Golovkin Body Blow that Dropped Lemieux in Round Five
Frank Della Femina: Cotto's Left Hook Knocks Out Daniel Geale
I'm tempted to go with Canelo-Kirkland again but I'll pull back the reins just a bit and go with Cotto-Geale instead. That signature left hook was in prime form against Geale, so much so that he nearly put the guy through the ropes when he landed it. Although Cotto would later go on to lose to Canelo on the cards in November, that signature punch really stands out as one of my favorites in 2015.
Frank Miller: Canelo Knocks Out Kirkland
Kirkland's body hits the canvas in a way that doesn't look, sound, or feel good by any measure. Alvarez had already knocked Kirkland down twice in three rounds and connected on 60% of his power punches. To make matters worse, Canelo isn't even touched on the final blow—in fact, he ducks under Kirkland's left hook rather gracefully.
Michael Gluckstadt: Golovkin Lands an Uppercut on Lemieux's Chin
It's possible other punches looked more devastating in slow motion, but this was the only moment in 2015 when I actually thought I might see someone's head removed from the rest of their body. Lemieux's head snapped back violently – his flopping hair contributing somewhat to the effect – and for a split second I thought I'd seen a Pez dispenser in the ring.