The sport of boxing will continue to deliver on dramatic theater, no matter the scenario. What it will also deliver is massive knockouts that send the crowd and viewers at home into a frenzy. This year was no different as the course of 2021 brought fight fans some incredible knockouts that got them out of their collective seats.
Boxing also found a way to attract a new clientele based upon the creative ways those outside the sport had in making headway within it, from YouTube stars Jake and Logan Paul to the many variations of Triller Fight Club's attempt to disrupt the sport as those also gave fans dramatic finishes.
A panel of CBS Sports experts sat down to vote on our picks for some of the years top moments, including best fight, with some very interesting results. Let's take a closer look at who shined the brightest throughout boxing in 2021.
Awards as voted on by Brian Campbell, Brent Brookhouse, Brandon Wise and Shakiel Mahjouri.
Knockout of the Year
Winner: Oscar Valdez KO 10 Miguel Berchelt
Talk about a defining and breakthrough victory. There's no question, that's what this fight was for Valdez (30-0, 23 KOs), the two-division champion who very few gave a legitimate chance against the dominant face of the 130-pound division in Berchelt (38-2, 34 KOs). But can we also talk about how brutal this one-punch knockout actually was? Valdez had previously scored a pair of knockdowns to take firm control of this All-Mexican war from February, held inside the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. Few could have expected as climactic an ending, however, as Valdez connected with a counter left hook from hell to drop his overly aggressive opponent in sections as the fight was waved off with one second to go in Round 10.
Second place: Brandun Lee KO3 Samuel Teah
At just 22, the power-punching Lee (24-0, 22 KOs) delivered a trio of knockouts in 2021 as he continued to make noise as a rising 140-pound prospect. None was as big as his first endeavor against Teah, which headlined a March ShoBox card from the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. Teah uncorked a left hook in the center of the ring that caught Lee flush on the chin. But Lee had already begun the delivery of a counter right hand that knocked Teah out cold upon impact and led to a spectacular fall to the canvas. The fight was instantly called at 1:43 of Round 3 without a count as Lee continued to put the boxing world on notice.
Third place: Gabriel Rosado KO3 Bektemir Melikuziev
Sometimes the best knockouts are the ones you never thought were possible. Rosado (26-14-1, 15 KOs), the 35-year-old journeyman with the warrior's heart, has never been known as a one-punch power type of guy. That was especially true when he continued a late career move up to 168 pounds in June to face the unbeaten destroyer known as "Bek the Bully." Melikuziev, a bruising southpaw, had floored Rosado in the opening round and continued to stalk him by Round 3. But Melikuziev was caught with his hands down as he cornered Rosado and rushed in. A counter right hand caught him flush to the chin and shockingly knocked him down face first under the ropes for the finish.
Others receiving votes: Jake Paul KO6 Tyron Woodley II (December), Efe Ajagba KO3 Brian Howard (April), Tyson Fury KO11 Deontay Wilder III (October).