CBS Sports best boxing knockouts of 2018: Teofimo Lopez flattening Mason Menard earns top spot

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The sport of boxing had a monumental year in 2018; maybe one of the best overall years that it has enjoyed in quite a while as it attempts to surge heavily back into the mainstream. Of course, as the year went on, we were able to witness some incredible knockouts in many of these high-stakes battles, and as we all are aware, KOs are probably what draws fans -- especially casual ones -- into the sweet science. 

That said, let's have a look back at the best knockout victories that we were able to see over the course of these past 12 months in 2018 as voted on by our panel at CBS Sports. 

1. Teofimo Lopez def. Mason Menard -- Dec. 8: When you land such a powerful shot that it stiffens your opponent and sends him face-first into the canvas, then chances are you're in great position to come away with the knockout of the year. Lopez accomplished just that here in 2018, and furthermore, his winning bid was a late submission. Earlier this month on Dec. 8, Lopez battled Menard on the undercard portion of the event that saw Vasiliy Lomachenko take on Jose Pedraza in the main event. Lopez would be the fighter everyone remembers from Madison Square Garden on that night, though, as just 44 seconds into the bout, he absolutely obliterated Menard with such a stunning overhand right shot that he fell limp and could do nothing but face plant directly down into defeat. 

2. Alexander Povetkin def. David Price -- March 31: Povetkin challenged unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua back in September, suffering a seventh-round TKO loss. In his fight prior to that, though, he had many wondering whether he could be a legitimate threat to the champ simply off his amazing knockout of Price. In the waning moments of the fifth round in their battle at Principality Stadium on the undercard of Joshua's defense against Joseph Parker, Povetkin landed a stiff right that was merely a precursor to a vicious left hook. The power left Price flat on his back and on dream street immediately. The referee called the bout, and Povetkin was on his way to challenge for the heavyweight title later this year. 

3. Oleksandr Usyk def. Tony Bellew -- Nov. 10: As he fought his way to earning boxer of the year honors for us here at CBS Sports, the unified cruiserweight champion was simply a highlight machine. His best highlight, though, most certainly came from his last bout against a retiring Bellew. In the eighth round of their cruiserweight title bout last month, it was very evident that the 36-year-old Bellew was fading and Usyk was aiming to put a finish to the festivities as he continues his tear through the sport. At two minutes into Round 8, Usyk landed a lightning-fast combination to the chin of Bellew, nearly sending him clear through the ropes after the hard left connected. It was a stern reminder of just why Usyk is so revered within the sport entering 2019. 

4. Danny Garcia def. Brandon Rios -- Feb. 17: The former WBC welterweight champion fought twice this year, most recently suffering a unanimous decision loss to Shawn Porter as he tried to recapture the WBC welterweight belt. Back in February, however, Garcia was not only successful against Rios but also gave us one hell of a highlight for 2018 en route to victory. In the ninth round, the former two-division champion saw an opening from Rios and more than took advantage. Garcia connected with a strong right hook that looked like something you'd see in a movie, sending Rios down for the count. Rios would get to his feet and plead with the referee to continue, but it was quickly apparent -- to the referee and the fans -- that Garcia had sent him completely out on his feet at that point. 

5. Naoya Inoue def. Juan Carlos Payano -- Oct. 7: WBA bantamweight champion Inoue battled Payano in the quarterfinals of the World Boxing Super Series, also choosing to put his title on the line as well. Heading into the contest, not many fans may have ever heard of Inoue, but the manner in which he finished this one certainly gained him a larger following. Just 1:10 into the first round of the contest, Inoue caught Payano with one of the most gorgeous straight rights that you will ever witness; the term "picture-perfect" probably does it justice. The referee began to count, but quickly realized that Payano would in no way be able to continue. Inoue retained his title while moving on in the WBSS, moved to 17-0 and earned himself a rightful spot on this year-end list. 

Honorable Mention: Deontay Wilder def. Luis Ortiz (March 3), Dereck Chisora def. Carlos Takam (July 28), Jermall Charlo def. Hugo Centeno (April 21), Dillian Whyte def. Lucas Browne (March 24), David Lemieux def. Gary O' Sullivan (Sep. 15)

Jack joined CBS Sports in 2018 as an editor and writer covering college football, combat sports and golf. He was raised to love the New York Yankees unconditionally since birth and firmly believes a four-team... Full Bio

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