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Top 10 Boxing Knockouts of 2021

The hits kept on coming in what was a banner year for boxing, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld as he selects the 10 best knockouts of 2021.

The hits kept on coming in what was a banner year for boxing, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld as he selects the 10 best knockouts of 2021.

After being dropped to the canvas by the Covid pandemic in 2020, boxing this year rose like Tyson Fury in the final round of his first fight against Deontay Wilder.

Speaking of the pair of legendary leviathans, it should come as no surprise that they feature prominently on the list, but was The Gypsy King’s trilogy-clinching knock out the best of the year?

Find out below…

10: Over and Out

They don’t come much cleaner than the overhand left Erislandy Lara landed on Thomas LaManna in May. “The American Dream” wasted little time capturing the WBA middleweight title in the open-air Dignity Health Sports Park, catching LaManna with both of his hands down and leaving him taking an involuntary tan in the middle of the ring.

9: Dream Debut

You only get one chance to make a good first impression. Antoine Cobb took the adage to heart in his pro debut in October, punishing Jerrion Campbell for overextending with a stunning right that sent him crashing into the ropes in the opening round.

8: Life in the Old Dog Yet

Considering he was overlooked, it was apropos that it was an overhand counter that saw Gabriel Rosado rock Bektemir Melikuziev’s world in June. Few gave the veteran a shot but he devastatingly seized the day in the third. Kudos to Melikuziev for trying to get up, but there was no coming back from a bomb like that.

7: Scary Scenes

Lenin Castillo suffered the most worrying knockout of 2021 in his September showdown against Callum Smith. Moving up to light heavyweight, Smith rebounded from his loss to Canelo Alvarez in style as he starched Castillo with a lightning bolt of a right hand in the second that saw a stiff, unconscious Castillo’s legs start twitching and the Dominican Republic star having to be stretchered out of the ring.

6: Canelo Makes History

It wasn’t a single shot but rather a brutal barrage from pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez to break the iron will of previously unbeaten Caleb Plant in the penultimate round of their historic clash in November to immortalize himself as the first-ever undisputed super-middleweight champion.

5: Nigerian Nightmare

Efe Ajagba in April obliterated Brian Howard to move to a perfect 15-0. The finish came in the third when the frightening power of the Nigerian Olympian sent Howard crashing into a heap as if he’d been bludgeoned with a sledgehammer.

4: Pure Poison

There’s digging to the body and then there’s what Ryan Garcia did to Luke Campbell at the start of the year. “King Ry” dug down deep after going down in the second and shut down Campbell with the body shot of the year in the seventh to secure the WBC interim lightweight title. Maximum torque, maximum venom!

3: Meme Maker

For all that former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley accomplished in mixed martial arts, he will mainly be known as the guy YouTuber Jake Paul turned into a meme with a stunning one-punch knockout. The December rematch between the pair was tough to watch until the sixth when “The Problem Child” connected with a picture-perfect right that slept Woodley and broke the internet.

2: The Gypsy Reigns Supreme

Arch-rivals Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder put on an all-time classic to conclude their titanic trilogy in October. Heavyweight boxing theatre at its finest, both behemoths were dropped multiple times but in the end, it was Fury who stood tall as he landed the historic killer blow in the 11th to retain his WBC and Ring titles and remain undefeated.

1: Enter the Matrix

Oscar Valdez could not have captured the WBC lightweight belt more magnificently than he did in February. Having knocked down champion Miguel Berchelt three times during the fight, the Mexican star sealed the deal in the 10th. Gliding backward with silky smooth footwork and exemplary head movement, Valdez evaded three punches before face-planting Berchelt with a ferocious left hook…a crowning moment for the ages.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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