There is something mesmerizing about a fighter than can render an opponent unconscious with a single blow.
A man is struck, then falls, out of time with his surroundings; symbolically dead if he cannot rise to his feet by the count of 10. In such moments, the voice of ultimate authority can be heard, speaking from the very heart of boxing; a sport that is all about seeing one man rise at the expense of another.
The knockout brings a finality that cannot be debated, answering the question of who is best, succinctly and violently.
The men and women who happen to be blessed with such fight-ending power are seen — to a fault, perhaps — as apex predators, just as the gunslinger with the fastest draw was akin to God in the Old West.
Not all knockout punchers stalk their prey the same way, nor do they all react the same way when struck with force themselves.
Some of them come out as hard chargers, looking to take the head off their opponent, with little use of craft-laden obfuscation. Mike Tyson was like this, as was David Tua, once he got warmed up.
Others, more patient and deliberate than their aggressive brethren, take their time, breaking their opponent down with methodical work to the body, guard and head, waiting for the perfect opening to unleash their power. Oscar De La Hoya was like this, as was Felix Trinidad.
Sometimes the victims of either species drop flat from the first savage blow that lands cleanly, while other times they do not, staggering about like wounded animals; waiting for the end to come.
Finally, there are the pressure punchers; boxers with significant power that becomes overwhelming due the amount of hard punches they throw on a constant basis; Julio Cesar Chavez fits well into this group, as do fighters like Micky Ward, Juan Manuel Marquez and his favorite dance partner, Manny Pacquiao.
Of course, there is a final difference to be found even among such pugilistic monsters — power.
Just as no two slick boxers are identical, so too are the differences in knockout punchers; some heavy hitters just seem to be in possession of power that is exceptional even among their punishing peers.
Recently, a new KO machine has emerged to American audiences, Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin, or GGG for short.
Currently the reigning WBA super middleweight and IBO middleweight champion, Golovkin is undefeated in 33 professional contests, and he has won his last 20 fights by KO/TKO, bringing his overall record to 33-0 with 30 wins by stoppage.
On its face, it’s a shocking statistic that speaks for itself.
When you dig a little deeper, the story that unfolds is one of an exceptional puncher, establishing himself as a shark in a small pond until he found his way into the ocean proper. The irony of it all is that now that he’s in the really deep water, his maw seems every bit as capable of chewing through the other sharks as it was when he was just growing into his power.
Granted, the bulk of Golovkin’s record has been made off the backs of lesser fighters, but those were the only men really available to him throughout the majority of his career.
Since he has emerged on the sport on an international level, he has looked every bit as good as his fans had hoped he would. He’s stepped up in competition and he’s knocked them out, too.
When he made his American debut against GrzeGorz Proksa, he was facing a younger opponent that not only boasted a 28-1 record (with 19 stoppages), but a man that had never been knocked down. Golovkin blasted him from pillar to post, dropping him three times before the fight was finally stopped in Round 5.
Against Curtis Stevens, a fellow knockout puncher with a record of 25-3 (with 18 wins by stoppage), Golovkin landed early with a short, chopping left hook that dropped Stevens to the floor. When he sat up, his eyes were wide, clearly shocked by the power leveled against him. Stevens battled back, landing hard shots of his own, but it wasn’t enough to save him from a TKO via referee stoppage after eight punishing rounds.
In his stiffest test to date — at least on paper — Golovkin faced No. 5 ranked Daniel Geale in July of 2014. The result was the same, only quicker; Golovkin battered Geale en route to a TKO stoppage in Round 3.
Although he is not a young fighter, his is still very fresh and undamaged for a 33 year old professional. Part of this may be due to his work ethic, which sees him fighting on a frequent basis, which in turn helps keep him sharp and ready.
But with all that being said, how does Golovkin rate against some of the KO kings of the past? How accurate is he when it counts? How much force can he deliver with a single blow against those who have proven sturdy enough to weather many harsh storms?
In short: How hard does the man hit when compared to some of his peers?
To answer this question, five other fighters have been assembled to help shine a light on his power, if by no other way than contrast.
These men are proven punchers; excellent in all the same ways that Golovkin himself would like to be remembered, when the stylus of history — if you will allow me to steal blatantly from the prose of Bert Sugar — pauses before writing his legacy.
This is how Golovkin stacks up to some of his notable power-punching peers of various weight classes in the realm of knockout power, and artistry.