Curtis Stevens spent all of fight week taking verbal shots at David Lemieux prior to their middleweight clash this past March in Verona, New York. Once the opening bell sounded, it was Lemieux's turn to take shots at his opponent until the job was complete.
The final product was one for the highlight reel, as well as for top honors as the FightNights.com 2017 Knockout of the Year.
As if the matchup itself didn't already suggest an explosive ending, Lemieux himself made sure the task would be carried out by night's end. The former middleweight titlist came out swinging for the fences right out the gate, throwing a career-high 117 punches in the opening round and landing an eye-popping 56% of his total power punches on the night. It was more than double the amount he would throw in the third—and last—round of the bout, but would only need two of the 54 he threw in round three to finish off the task.
While both punchers had their moments during the condensed affair, it was largely a showcase for Lemieux. He closed the show in spectacular fashion, landing a right hand to freeze Stevens along the ropes before slamming home a left hook to render the Brooklynite unconscious as he laid on the canvas under the bottom rope.
It was the Canada-based knockout artist who enjoyed the last laugh in the ring, but while his actions were loud enough without commentary he still felt compelled to take a final parting shot.
“We wanted to make a statement and we did,” Lemieux told BoxingScene.com's Keith Idec after the fight. “Sometimes you’ve gotta stop trying to degrade other fighters. You’ve gotta humble yourself or you will be humbled. Tonight, I wanted to make an example out of him because no fighter deserves to be degraded like that."
Lemieux failed to fulfill his goal of becoming a two-time middleweight titlist, falling miserably short to Billy Joe Saunders this past December in Montreal, Canada. Still, he did everything he set out to do versus Stevens, which was more than good enough for the 2017 Knockout of the Year.
EDITOR'S PICK: ZOLANI TETE KO1 SIBONISO GONYA
There's something to be said about a one-punch knockout—especially when it's literally the only punch to land in a fight.
Such was what took place on November 18, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. On an evening when former two division world champion and local hero Carl Frampton would return for the first time since the lone loss of his career, and where Jerwin Ancajas would establish himself as a leading player in the red-hot 115-pound division, it was South Africa's Tete who became the talk of the town in an instant.
The 29-year old southpaw has long boasted underrated punching power, although his days of flying under the radar no longer exist. In making the first defense of his bantamweight title, there was little doubt he would handle his business versus his countryman Gonya. What wasn't expected by anyone was how soon it would end—although that tends to be the case when you set a record for the fastest knockout in title fight history.
Both boxers missed with pawing jabs at the start of the fight, but Tete perfectly positioned himself for a right hook that sent Gonya crashing to the deck in a heap. Referee Phil Edwards only reached "four" in his count before frantically waving off the contest. Had he counted to ten, Tete would've had to settle for sharing the record with Daniel Jimenez, who defended the very same WBO bantamweight title in 1994 when he forced Harald "E.T." Geier to phone home in just 17 seconds.
Instead, the two-division titlist has the record all to himself, all while giving new meaning to the term "one-punch knockout."
BEST OF THE REST
Mikey Garcia KO3 Dejan Zlaticinan—Garcia announced his lightweight arrival in emphatic fashion, earning a world title in a third weight class with one of the more memorable moments of an already spectacular career. Zlaticanin had never lost, never been knocked down and was largely recognized as the best lightweight in the world while attempting his first title defense. That changed in the span of a three-punch sequence in round three, with a right-left sending the Montenegro native staggering into the ropes, before being met with a right hand to put him down and out. From a name-brand perspective, Garcia's Fight of the Year-level campaign in 2017 was best remembered for his handling of former four-division titlist Adrien Broner, but it was this moment that will forever live on the highlight reel.
Jermell Charlo KO6 Charles Hatley and KO1 Erickson Lubin—Long frustrated over their having yet to secure a meaningful main event slot, the Charlo twins decided to go full dysfunctional mode in 2017, talking trash at every turn and daring the industry at large to shut them up. Jermell backed up his words with an even louder statement not once but twice on the year. First up was Hatley, who talked plenty of junk himself prior to his April title challenge, only for an ultimately shameful fight week to end with his being flattened by a right hand shot in the 6th round of their title fight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The very same venue hosted Charlo's next spectacular moment of his 154-pound title reign, violently snatching the "0" from Lubin courtesy of a right uppercut that sent the Florida prodigy crashing to the deck in a heap barely 90 seconds into the October night.
Yunier Dorticos KO2 Dmitry Kudryashov—What was sold as a Fight of the Year contender quickly evolved into an explosive showcase for Cuba's Dorticos. The unbeaten cruiseweight titlist had been on the pine since a May '16 knockout win of Youri Kalenga—which actually became a Fight of the Year entrant—thanks to a series of injuries suffered by Beibut Shumenov, whom thrice stalled their planned matchup before retiring altogether. Dorticos decided to take his talents to the World Boxing Super Series, drawing the 4th seed in the cruiserweight bracket and being stuck with Kudryashov when the likes of Oleksandr Usyk, Murat Gassiev and Mairis Briedis all went in a different direction during the live draft. The mouthwatering matchup suited Dorticos just fine, who showed no signs of ring rust in tearing through the Russian knockout artist in September. A fight that was guaranteed to end in spectacular knockout ultimately delivered, when a right hand from Dorticos left Kudryashov unable continue in round two.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai KO4 Roman Gonzalez (Rematch)—A lot was made of Sor Rungvisai's massive upset win of the previous pound-for-pound king and unbeaten four-division champion Gonzalez in March, though for all of the wrong reasons. The majority decision read in his favor was viewed by many as a questionable verdict, drawing demand for an immediate rematch. Promoter Tom Loeffler and premium cable outlet HBO used the opportunity to stage "SuperFly", featuring a trio of bouts in the super flyweight division on a September 9 telecast. There was no questioning the final outcome of Part II, as Sor Rungvisai—who dropped Gonzalez for the first time in his career in the opening round of their March clash—floored the Nicaraguan superstar twice in round four, the second of which put him flat on his back and leaving boxing experts to wonder if it forever ended his days as a pound-for-pound entrant.
Deontay Wilder KO1 Bermane Stiverne (Rematch)—The fight-ending sequence earned its own award as the most Memeable boxing moment of 2017. Wilder was making the sixth defense of the heavyweight crown he wrested from Stiverne in the Jan. '15 meet. The occasion was the lone time in his pro career in which Wilder was extended the full distance in a prizefight, while the rematch was preceded by Stiverne and his team—"promoter" Don King and manager James Prince—dragging their feet for much of the year in finalizing terms, only to land the opportunity as an alternate when originally scheduled opponent Luis Ortiz was scratched due to a drug testing discrepancy. Wilder took out his frustration on his old foe, swinging wildly for the fences from the beginning of the night and—three knockdowns later—scoring his 38th knockout in 39 pro bouts. The third and final knockdown of the night saw Stiverne fold at the knees before slumping along the ropes and to this day still forced to live the moment through social media.
Chris Eubank Jr. KO3 Avni Yildirim—The fact that the Eubanks hand-picked Yildirim during the World Boxing Super Series draft prior to their eventual win over former two-division titlist Arthur Abraham during the summer just goes to show how well they are able to study their opponents. The logic offered by Eubank Sr. was that Yildirim offered a similar—and fresher—style to that of then-upcoming opponent Abraham, which meant basically the same exact training camp and game plan from one fight to the next. It also meant a career-best showing for Eubank Jr., who went from middle-of-the-pack to underground favorite to win the WBSS super middleweight tournament upon his spectacular finish. A series of uppercuts had Yildirim dazed and confused, with Eubank Jr. looking to close with a right hand and left hook. His first attempt offered grazing blows, but the follow up put the previously unbeaten Turk out for the night.
David Benavidez KO8 Porky Medina—He would eventually end the year becoming the youngest champion in the history of the super middleweight division, but the road to title contention showcased the Arizona-based rising star at his very best. A final eliminator bout with Medina this past May, with the winner guaranteed a crack at the WBC super middleweight title. Benavidez—just 20 years young at the time—earned that opportunity in spades, landing some 17 unanswered punches including a combination upstairs to send Medina sprawling through the ropes in signaling the end of the fight—and the beginning of a new era that would soar to new heights with Benavidez edging Ronald Gavril for the vacant title in their Fight of the Year contender this past September.