Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Greatest Knockout Of The Last 25 Years has a thrilling account of Tommy Hearns vs. Roberto Duran that is gripping and so descriptive that you'll think you were there!

All things being subjective in the world of sports the knockout, quick and clean, ranks high up among the most thrilling moments in athletic competition. And when a spine tingling one-punch knockout happens between two fighters at the highest level of the profession nothing, not even a major league pitcher closing in on a perfect game is so shockingly dramatic. Such a thing happened on the night of June 15, 1984 at Caesars Palace on a hot evening in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Right from the opening bell the disparity in size became alarmingly apparent. Hearns towered over Duran and his left jab, snapping out from his hip, kept the Panamanian off balance. Hearns began pushing the smaller Duran around the ring, targeting his belly with the jab and coming over the top with booming right hands. Duran, rarely cut, began to bleed over his left eye and started to paw at the wound with his glove. Then, coming off the ropes, Hearns again jabbed to the chest and fired a right hand over the top dropping Duran on the seat of his trunks.

Duran, seemingly more surprised than hurt, jumped up and took the mandatory eight count. Hearns charged across the ring and pummeled Roberto, nearly knocking him out of the ring before depositing him on the canvas again with a left hook to the body. Duran beat the count at the bell and Hearns, in a measure of respect, extended his left glove to the woozy fighter. Duran touched gloves and then wandered off to the wrong corner.

The inevitability of what was to come hung in the air but the crowd at the outdoor arena at Caesars Palace seemed as dazed as to what was happening as Duran. Hearns, now oozing confidence, approached center ring and again touched gloves with Duran. It would be the last civil thing he did. Gliding around the ring and looking like a demented, black vampire with his goatee and Jeri curls, the “Hitman”, he had reassumed the moniker for the fight, went in for the kill.

Pushing Duran backwards he leapt in and clobbered the cowering fighter with a vicious right hand that staggered Duran back into the ropes again. Hearns bounced backwards and then jumped in again with another vicious right hand and began pummeling his prey with a series of punches that kept Duran standing straight up. Roberto tried to move off the ropes, so Hearns lured him out and then pushed him back with two probing left jabs to the chest before dropping the coup de grace.

The final right hand that crashed over Duran’s guard was so brutal, the impact twisted his head to the side and sucked all the air out of the arena. A collective gasp went up as Roberto Duran fell face forward to the canvas. There would be no count. Duran’s corner men jumped into the ring as Hearns leapt onto the shoulders of his handlers. It was the most dramatic knockout of Thomas Hearns’ career and upped the ante for his potential challenge of Marvin Hagler for the middleweight championship.

Any arguments about this? There have been a bunch of great knockouts over the years - share yours in the Comments. And read the whole thing.
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