Boxing: The best knockouts of 2020 include Anthony Joshua and Gervonta Davis

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Fights were rare for much of 2020, so one would think eye-catching knockouts were about as common as exciting Floyd Mayweather contests.

But looking back, there were a number of unforgettable, devastating finishes.

This list is limited to contests for world title belts or at least involving world-level fighters. After all, Jake Paul’s destruction of ex-basketball star Nate Robinson might make for an impressive showreel on the former’s YouTube channel, but this ranking is restricted to what former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis used to call “pugilist specialists."

So sit back, relax and feast your eyes over our top five knockouts of 2020.

Enjoy.

1) Gervonta Davis v Leo Santa Cruz, October 31

The nickname Tank should already tell you everything you need to know about Gervonta Davis, but the devastating uppercut he unleashed on Halloween in San Antonio to leave Leo Santa Cruz out cold before he had even hit the canvas lived up to his other sobriquet – ‘Mini Mike Tyson’.

This was a rare fight unifying WBA world title belts at different weights - super-feather and lightweight. The combatants were top-quality too. Unbeaten southpaw Davis has bulldozered through the divisions under the management of Mayweather. He has won titles at three different weights and has only been taken the distance once in 24 fights. But he was facing a clever volume puncher, who had only lost once, a close decision to Carl Frampton that he later avenged.

It was tight until the end of round six. With 20 seconds left, Davis pinned Santa Cruz in the corner, dipped his left shoulder and, with dazzling speed, whipped a precise uppercut onto the chin of the Mexican, who crumpled to the canvas. The referee dispensed with the count and waved off the fight.

2) Alexander Povetkin v Dillian Whyte, August 22

Dillian Whyte had Alexander Povetkin just where he wanted him going into the fifth round of their bout at ‘Matchroom Square Garden’ in August. The former WBA world heavyweight champion had been on the canvas twice in the fourth and the Englishman was looking for a finish that would finally set up his own shot at one of the major belts. He had been the WBC’s No 1 contender for over 1,000 days.

It seemed that Whyte was showing admirable experience in waiting for an opening against a weakening opponent, rather than just wading in. Many a fighter has been caught that way, particularly at heavyweight where many possess one-punch knockout power. However, Povetkin is seasoned, well-schooled and has only lost to a pair of long-reigning, multi-belt world champions – Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko. Having jabbed to the body all evening, the Russian switched his focus to the head. With 40 seconds left in the round, Whyte avoided such an attack, but, in doing so, left himself unsighted as Povetkin moved to his left and hoisted a sweetly-timed uppercut to Whyte’s jaw.

A few milliseconds later, over 250lbs of fighting muscle laid strewn across the ropes. After three years of patience, that single shot sent Whyte to the back of the queue for a major world title fight.

3) Anthony Joshua v Kubrat Pulev, December 12

The initial damage was done via a series of uppercuts, but the final blow that saw Anthony Joshua knockout Kubrat Pulev in December was the sweetest of right hands.

The Bulgarian had just risen to his feet after being floored in the dying seconds of the ninth when the champion flicked out a distracting left jab before detonating a cross on the chin of the challenger.

Until then, Pulev had been nothing if not durable. He was on the brink of defeat in the third, but dug in and, at the start of the deciding round, was on the offensive. Joshua found a conclusive finish with a punch similar to the one that had started the demise of Alexander Povetkin in September 2018. That was the last occasion Joshua had knocked out an opponent.

4) Naoya Inoue v Jason Moloney, October 31

If you want to impress your mates with some boxing knowledge, mention the vicious finishing of Naoya Inoue. After 20 fights and 17 knockouts, the Japanese boxer is the WBA and IBF bantamweight champion and, most tellingly, No 2 in the pound-for-pound rankings run by the highly-prestigious Ring Magazine.

The 27-year-old is 5ft 5in and operates at 8st 6lb, but possesses fast fists, dazzling footwork and knockout ability in both hands.

He floored Moloney in the sixth with a short left hook and ended the argument a round later with a devastating right cross. Inoue is proof of that old boxing formula – speed equals power.

5) Ryan Garcia v Francisco Fonseca, February 14

Eighty seconds. That is how long it took Ryan Garcia to leave Francisco Fonseca flat on his back, barely conscious with arms and legs spread wide in the shape of an X.

The American lightweight is nicknamed The Flash and is renowned to have the fastest hands in boxing. He lived up to that billing on Valentine’s Day, landing three left hooks in the first half of the first round. The last was short, sharp and sent his much-respected opponent to sleep.

Garcia is 22, stylish in the ring and has the dashing looks of a movie star. All he needs now is a world title. He can win one on January 2 when he takes on Englishman Luke Campbell for the interim WBC world lightweight crown in Dallas.

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