Like a walk-off home run, game winning touchdown or buzzer beating shot, the knockout is one of the most exciting moments in sports. And although boxing is known as much for its skill as it is for its brutality; even the biggest admirer of its technical aspect gets excited by a 10-count.
There’s no question that the die-hards keep the sport afloat, but attracting new eyes is what’s going to make boxing thrive. Casual fight fan’s tune in to watch big names and hope for a knockout. Unfortunately for them and boxing—Floyd Mayweather (46-0, 26 KOs), Manny Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs) and Bernard Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 KOs)—three of its biggest superstars are on major KO droughts.
Mayweather’s last knockout came in 2011 against Victor Ortiz, when the sucker punch heard around the world abruptly ended their championship bout in round four. “Money” has dominated his four opponents since, but none were on the verge of being stopped. As speculation of a potential Pacquiao bout fades, many should begin to wonder if “The Best Ever” will ever score another stoppage.
In 2009, Pacquiao took on Miguel Cotto for a welterweight title at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. After 11-rounds of action, the Filipino Congressman stopped Cotto in the final frame. Since then, Pacquiao’s padded his record with wins over notable names like Shane Mosely, Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley. But in the eight bouts following the Cotto fight, he’s delivered zero knockouts. Leaving some to wonder if his faith has softened him and others to question possible past steroid use, as the Mayweather’s have allegedly accused him of.
It would be difficult to ask more of the 49-year-old Bernard Hopkins—who’s given so much to the sport since being released from prison in 1988. His 20 title defenses make him the longest reigning middleweight champ of all time and he’s the oldest boxer ever to win a major championship. But, although we’ve learned to appreciate his style of pot-shotting and grappling with his much younger opponents; the suspense of an impending knockout has been removed from his fights. His last KO came in 2004, when he landed a perfect shot to the liver of a not yet faded Oscar De La Hoya. Two weight classes, 10-years and 182-rounds later; we’re not likely to see Hopkins become the oldest man to win by knockout.
There’s no precise equation that will solve all of boxing’s problems. But since the part-time viewers mostly tune in to see stars and enjoy watching knockouts; big names plus KOs could make for a satisfied customer who’s more likely to return.