Best boxing knockouts of 2017: Deontay Wilder's masterpiece earns top spot

If there's a formula that goes into constructing an ideal candidate for knockout of the year in boxing, it would include a memorable finishing punch, a theatrical fall from the losing fighter and have occurred in a fight that truly mattered. 

The knockout also needs to be the kind of destructive finish that forces one to get off of their seat and/or reflexively cover up while reacting to the replay. 

The calendar year of 2017 produced a number of candidates that featured most or all of those qualities. Let's take a look at the best of the year.

1. Deontay Wilder KO1 Bermane Stiverne II -- Nov. 4, Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York 

Upset that his original opponent Luis Ortiz became the third straight to withdraw after failing a drug test, WBC heavyweight champion Wilder took out his anger on Stiverne in a rematch he openly didn't want. Even though Stiverne entered overweight and fresh off a two-year layoff, it's unlikely that even the best version of the former champion would've made it through one round against a version of Wilder this ferocious and hellbent on destruction.

Wilder scored a trio of thrilling knockdowns over the final 54 seconds of the fight, including the first two on booming right hands. But he saved his most electric assault for last when he ran across the ring, stutter stepped from left to right with his athletic, 6-foot-7 frame, and uncorked a vicious four-punch combination that caused Stiverne's body to fold awkwardly like an accordion as his head rested on the bottom rope. Barely conscious, Stiverne tried to get up for seconds, but fell face first onto the canvas. 

The angry Wilder was so demonstrative in finishing Stiverne that referee Arthur Mercante Jr. had to nearly tackle him to prevent Wilder from landing any unnecessary blows while Stiverne was down. While Wilder, armed with boxing's most potent weapon in his big right hand, is no stranger to producing one-punch candidates for KO of the year, this was as scary a stoppage imaginable due to the emotion in play.   

2. David Benavidez TKO 8 Rogelio "Porky" Medina -- May 20, Laredo Energy Arena in Laredo, Texas

Be honest for a second -- when was the last time you saw a knockout via a seven-punch combination? And when was the last time you saw a boxer finish a fight with 17 unanswered shots, with the loser falling through the ropes and nearly onto a ringside table? The 20-year-old Benavidez made an incredible statement with his shoe-shine knockout of the durable and hard-punching Medina to secure a super middleweight title shot. Four months later, Benavidez would win that opportunity when he outpointed Ronald Gavril in an all-action duel. But this KO of Medina was "El Bandera Roja" at his finest. 

3. Zolani Tete KO1 Siboniso Gonya -- Nov. 18, SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland

A native of South Africa, Tete made sure the first defense of his WBO bantamweight title was a memorable one when he set a record for the quickest knockout in a major world title fight in modern boxing history at 11 seconds. Tete, a southpaw, nailed Gonya flush on the chin with the first punch he threw -- a lightning quick right hook. Referee Phil Edwards reached the count of two before realizing Gonya had been knocked cold in a wild ending to their 118-pound title bout. 

4. David Lemieux KO3 Curtis Stevens -- March 11, Turning Stone Resort in Verona, New York

Just as things began to heat up between a pair of exciting middleweight bangers, Lemieux uncorked one of the sneakiest and most devastating punches of 2017. After trapping Stevens against the ropes, Lemieux let loose with a right-left combination. The second punch, an extremely short left hook a la Rocky Marciano, instantly removed Stevens from his senses. What happened next was chilling as Stevens fell onto his back under the bottom rope and nearly out of the ring, laying motionless with his eyes wide open. Lights out. 

5. Mikey Garcia KO3 Dejan Zlaticanin -- Jan. 28, MGM Grand in Las Vegas

In just his second fight since returning from a 2.5-year layoff because of promotional issues, Garcia reminded of his P4P-rated talents by winning the WBC lightweight title -- his third in as many weight divisions. But it was the destructive manner in which he dispatched the dangerous Zlaticanin that is most remembered. Garcia slipped a lead left hand from the southpaw and countered with a three-punch combination that hurt Zlaticanin and sent him staggering forward to the ropes. As he turned back toward Garcia, he was met with a brutal right hand that knocked him cold under the bottom rope. Zlaticanin remained unconscious for several minutes and was administered oxygen at ringside.

6. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai KO4 Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez II -- Sept. 9, StubHub Center in Carson, California

Six months after delivering the Fight of the Year in New York's Madison Square Garden, when the unheralded Sor Rungvisai violently upset the reigning and pound-for-pound king via disputed decision, their rematch left no doubt who was the better fighter. Thailand's Sor Rungvisai was dominant from the start and cemented the dramatic fall for the future Hall of Famer from Nicaragua with a brutal dismantling in Round 4. After flooring "Chocolatito" with a vicious right hook, he landed the same punch moments later to deposit Gonzalez on his back and out of commission. The punch did so much damage, referee Tom Taylor immediately ended the fight without a count. 

7. Jermell Charlo KO1 Erickson Lubin -- Oct. 14, Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York

Charlo, the WBC junior middleweight champion and twin brother of middleweight contender Jermall, announced himself as a knockout threat at 154 pounds in 2017 with a pair of memorable finishes. Both came at the Barclays Center, with the latter in less than one around against Lubin, a top unbeaten prospect. After missing on a pair of jabs which caused Lubin to duck and bend at the waist, Charlo followed through with a right uppercut that caught the challenger on his ear and awkwardly dropped him in sections like a Slinky. The visual was a spectacular one, forcing referee Harvey Dock to halt his count as quickly as he started it after Lubin's arms continued to flail. 

8. Jermell Charlo KO6 Charles Hatley -- Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York

If the explosive barrage of punches Charlo landed to wear down and stagger Hatley weren't impressive enough for their speed and power, the finishing blow he uncorked with the right hand as Hatley stumbled forward was simply lethal. Hatley, who was knocked out upon impact, fell face first under the bottom rope and onto the ring apron, knocking a camera out of the hands of a ringside photographer. 

9. Anthony Joshua TKO11 Wladimir Klitschko -- April 29, Wembley Stadium in London

Talk about an epic confrontation with historical implications. Joshua announced himself as a true worldwide star and may have revived the heavyweight division against the former champion Klitschko. The fight was an amazing spectacle, contested in front of 90,000 fans, as both survived mid-fight knockdowns and kept coming. While Joshua wasn't able to finish the fight with a singular blow, which would've likely earned him top honors for KO of the year given the significance, he began Klitschko's exit with a stunning right uppercut to the jaw in Round 11. After dropping him with a left hook, Joshua forced a second knockdown following a five-punch combination of flush shots along the ropes. Referee David Fields finally rescued Klitschko on his feet as Joshua teed off in the corner, landing a huge right cross before the stoppage. 

10. Luis Collazo KO6 Sammy Vasquez -- Feb. 2, Horseshoe Casino in Tunica, Mississippi

There's a certain level of desperate aggression that is summoned when a pair veteran fighters, fresh off recent defeats, square off for a shot at re-entering the title picture. What it often produces is fireworks, which we saw in this welterweight bout. Collazo, who was snapping a 19-month layoff, was more than willing to engage in a brawl with the aggressive Vasquez, and relied on his technique to score a third-round knockdown. But after the two continued to trade damage into Round 6, it was the former 147-pound champion Collazo who delivered the decisive blow. After connecting with an overhand left at close range, the southpaw Collazo came right back with a short right hook to the chin to drop Vasquez, causing him to hit his head on the way down, and bringing a sudden end to the fight. 

Honorable mentions: Ray Beltran KO2 Jonathan Maicelo, John Ryder KO5 Patrick Nielsen, Eleider Alvarez KO5 Lucian Bute, Carlos Takam KO4 Marcin Rekowski, Sam Eggington KO10 Ceferino Rodriguez, Chris Eubank Jr. KO3 Avni Yildirim, Erickson Lubin TKO4 Jorge Cota, Teofimo Lopez KO2 Ronald Rivas, Danny Valdivia KO1 Douglas Ataide, Jaime Munguia KO3 Miguel Angel Lopez, Victor Ortiz TKO4 Saul Corral.

CBS Sports Insider

Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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