Photo: Will Hart
With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, HBO Boxing Insiders take a look back at the fights that aired on HBO and HBO PPV in 2016. Here, they make their selections for HBO KO of the Year.
Eric Raskin: Canelo Alvarez KO Amir Khan
Maybe it was because I was ringside for this one and was watching Vasyl Lomachenko-Roman Martinez, Jessie Vargas-Sadam Ali, and Joe Smith Jr.-Bernard Hopkins from my couch, but Canelo-Khan stands out to me as the most violent ending to a major fight in 2016. Canelo feinted a left to the body, Khan dropped his hands and the Mexican stepped in with maximum force with a right hand to the jaw. Almost cartoonishly, Khan’s upper body twisted and flailed while his lower body came out from under him, and his head bounced sickeningly off the canvas. Khan fought well for nearly six rounds, and was right in the fight; Alvarez only needed one punch to take him right out of it.
Kieran Mulvaney: Canelo KO Khan
Two knockouts really stand head and shoulders above the others. Rocky Martinez had absolutely no idea where he was after Vasyl Lomachenko separated him from his senses. But the way in which Canelo Alvarez nearly decapitated Amir Khan was as visceral and chilling a knockout as you’ll see. I’m strongly tempted to deduct marks for the size differential and the fact that, frankly, we all knew that there was a strong chance that was how that fight would end, but the sheer lightning bolt it sent through the arena gives it the nod.
Diego Morilla: Vasyl Lomachenko KO Roman Martinez
Knockout punches are supposed to numb an opponent into submission, but in order to stand out against every other KO in any given year, the true candidate must deliver pain, destruction and a full count of 10 to leave no doubts. Lomachenko’s knockout of Martinez? Check, check and double check. Martinez, a tough and experienced fighter who has survived many brawls, was very much in the fight until he found himself on the receiving end of an electric shock of a cross to the jaw that simply rendered him motionless on the canvas for the full 10 seconds, barely being able to lift his head after the count was reached. It was the stoppage that Lomachenko needed in his highlight reel to convince the world that he is the one guy to keep an eye on.
Nat Gottlieb: Canelo KO Khan
The traditional Cinco de Mayo fight of the year didn’t lack for drama, as Saul “Canelo” Alvarez proved once again he is a true one-punch KO artist. Khan’s plan was to use his speed to frustrate the Mexican, and it worked until the sixth round, when Alvarez landed a brutal right hook that dropped Khan to the canvas with his head bouncing up off it. The referee didn’t bother with a 10 count. It was over.
Hamilton Nolan: Lomachenko KO Martinez
After thoroughly confusing Martinez with movement, speed and punch variation, Lomachenko knocked the hell out of his opponent with one sweet left hook, producing a highlight-reel KO that instantly went viral.
Oliver Goldstein: Lomachenko KO Martinez
Lomachenko couldn’t have scored two more different stoppages this year, breaking Nicholas Walters’ heart in November after having nearly broken Roman Martinez’s face in June. The Martinez knockout, unsurprisingly, is my favorite, and contains within it all that’s great about the Ukrainian. Martinez was baffled and quite broken by the fifth, confused and unbalanced and hurt by Lomachenko’s quicker hands and unrelenting movement. Then, Lomachenko suddenly closed up the gap between the two of them and whacked Martinez with a hard left uppercut and even harder right hook, straight to the point of the jaw. Suddenly, Martinez was out.