Best Knockout…Tyson Style!

by Fran on February 29, 2012

Up Close Best Knockouts

If you asked any boxing fan to name ten of the best knockouts they ever saw I’m sure Mike Tyson would figure on that list at least once.  We all know that Iron Mike was a terrifying puncher, but I think that often people can overlook the skill and precision with which he wreaked his particular brand of destruction.  There are any number of Tyson victories that I could list under the ‘best knockouts’ category on the site (and no doubt will), but I’ve picked one that demonstrates how Tyson very subtly combined skills to produce killer passages of boxing.

We’ll go back to 1999 and Tyson’s 5th round victory over South African Francois Botha.  Here’s the video, then I’ve made a few observations below.

Now, it would be easy to get caught up with the power generated here without actually understanding how that power was generated and how Tyson was able to deliver that particular shot at that particular time.  Let’s look at it in two parts; the set up and the finish.

The Set Up…

We see a classic Tyson tactic to close the range here.  As the two fighters approach each other, Tyson combines a move forward with an extended ‘feinted’ jab.  But, there is something slightly different about both the move in and the jab.  The move in is actually a widening of the stance, maintaining the back foot where it is and allowing the front foot to lift and drive into range; very subtle and very effective.  As the move in is taking place, the jab is thrown but is not intended to land.  What this feinted jab does is allow Iron Mike in a split second to align his shoulders to Botha, resulting in almost an outside slip.  This puts Tyson in the perfect position to finish the fight by allowing him to store up maximum leverage for a right hand punch…

The Finish!

It’s the beautifully executed short range right hook.  I challenge you to find a shorter hook than the one thrown here.  Technically it’s as good as it gets.  The torque generated during the set up is released in a shot that travels maybe 10 inches, but the impact with which the punch lands should be measured in megatons.  Tyson’s right arm barely moves from the home position.  No drawback.  No swing.  At the point of impact, Tyson’s back foot is firmly planted, giving the traction to the floor required when looking to maximize the power of a short punch.  This is simply a perfectly executed short range right hook.

Let me know your thoughts, especially if you have any other KOs that you would like to see in the ‘best knockouts’ category on the site.



Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Ivan March 20, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Tyson used exactly the same combo to knock down A. Golota:
At 4.42 in the slow motion, Tyson almost tapped Golota on the shoulder with the feinted jab as if to say take care and then unloaded the abbreviated right hook. It caught Golota on the cheekbone, so he got up quickly, but it was enough to discourage him, he quit between rounds to the disgust of his corner even . This sucker punch won a second fight for Tyson. Golota should have cruised to an easy decision against a shadow of a great boxer, but when he could not get himself disqualified again, he chickened out.


David March 20, 2012 at 1:23 am

0:29 – 0:38 is classic Tyson. I have rarely seen another boxer since Tyson do this combination that was so effective for him. I have tried to utilize this in my training, but you have to master it, because your defenses are defintiely open during it. An experienced boxer would light me up up before I could even get the uppercut going from the body shot.

I love studying this video though. Such raw power.


Paul Smith March 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm

While Tyson had many impressive knockouts in his career, in my opinion his best KO was against Lorenzo Boyd, who was a stablemate of the first man to go the distance with Tyson – James ‘Quick’ Tillis. This fight stands out to me, as it was Tyson’s 24th pro fight (23W – 0L – 21 KOs) and yet only his first fight as an adult! His speed and use of pivots, followed by powerful hooks and uppercuts sent Boyd ‘flying’ in the second round. Check it out!


Fran March 11, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Great clip Paul. From that time in the early Tyson career where opponents tried to actually beat him. The pivots as you say are great. Tyson also likes the diagonal movement backwards to allow himself room to unleash those hooks and uppercuts, the classic demonstration of the paradox of an aggressive fighter backing off to attack. It really was also remarkable how often Tyson used uppercuts, technically difficult shots but terrifyingly damaging when landed. Great contribution Paul, thanks for the clip.


paul stevo March 8, 2012 at 2:35 pm

hya fran great vid. its one of my favourite kayoes of all time. Marciano knocked walcott out with a very similar set up, short jab, front foot left, send over the right with full bodyweight behind it.
Tyson also dropped holmes with that same set up but with the right thrown over the top.


Fran March 8, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Something else Paul. Master class in short range punching, being that the shorter the shot the more impact it has. Tyson was brilliant at this and his KO of Larry Holmes was a text book effort. He closed the ground in the blink of an eye and removed any height advantage held by Holmes. As for Marciano, one of the most iconic photographs in the sport shows Jersey Joe crumbling into a heap on the floor against the ropes as Marciano has transferred his weight to his left. Outstanding. Thanks for the comment Paulie.


Karl-Heinz March 5, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Yeah, there are several things I like about that shot. Several things I try to build into my combinations.

1) 0:04 Mrdjenovich instinctively corrects her stance and brings the back leg out from the ‘tightrope’ alignment. Without the adjustment the right hand wouldn’t have been effective. In fact, everything after that would have been thrown off. It all begins with the stance.

2) A split second later she throws the right and her hips turn nicely, her back knee follows, her back foot turns, all in one smooth motion. This wouldn’t have been nearly as effective or smooth without the correction she did in 1).

3) The right hand misses, no worries, she immediately turns back into the left hook. Weight shifts to her back leg as her hips turn with her arm. Full body weight behind the punch. It’s not just a frantic arm motion, the whole body moves properly.

4) Her eyes stay on the target throughout.

5) After the punch you can see her right hand is in good position beside her head. She does not make Gerula’s mistake of forgetting her defense. If Gerula had come back with the same second punch, a hook to the head after missing the right, she would have found Mrdjenovich glove was in the way. Having said that, Gerula wasn’t in a good balanced position to launch a second punch because she put all her faith in first one.

6) Bonus point. I can’t be sure it was done on purpose, but notice how Mrdjenovich is leaning back slightly at 0:04. I find this is a good tactic when facing aggressive boxers who target your head. In order to get TO your head they tend to stretch out their punches and lean forward out of balance. This puts a lot of power into their first punch but leaves them woefully unprepared to throw the second. You can force them to exaggerate this mistake by leaning back slightly, encouraging them to stretch out even more as they reach forward. After their punch you remain perfectly in balance with an off-balance opponent standing nicely in range.


Karl-Heinz March 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Here is a knockout I’ve been studying. In previous fights the brawler (Gerula) managed to lure the boxer (Mrdjenovich) into her crash and bang game. This time Jelena stuck to a plan and remembered the angles.

Quick people, what’s the next punch when you miss with the back hand?

In regards to Rocky Marciano, my favourite quote about him… “You can, as with an enraged grizzly bear, slow him down and make him shake his head if you hit him hard enough to wound him, but you can’t make him back up. Slowly, relentlessly, ruthlessly, he moves in on you. Sooner or later, he clubs you down.”


Fran March 4, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Kaboom. The importance of getting that right back hand to the guard position could not be demonstrated more clearly than in this clip. Interesting point on the follow up shot. Mrdjenovich had one thing in mind, that the 2 shots are part of the same action, unlike the unfortunate opponent. Also worth bearing in mind, we are at our most vulnerable when attacking, so form and technique are equally vital in attack and defense. Nice vid Karl, thanks.


Dave Waterman March 1, 2012 at 8:54 pm

A brilliantly chosen KO, Fran. As much for the unorthodox, peek-a-boo style that Cus D’Amato and Kevin Rooney instilled in the young Tyson, which remained evident here despite neither being involved in Iron Mike’s career at this point. As I read it, that style enabled Tyson to maximise his lack of height as a heavyweight and throw short, close up hooks and uppercuts with either hand. Boxing at long range was an impossibility for Tyson at 5’10”; he perfected an ability to intimidate his opponents, and while they stood like rabbits in the headlight, he closed the distance with beautiful footwork and incredible upper body and head movement to put himself into the ‘killing zone.’ It’s shown excellently here against Botha.

As for other knockouts, I have two to recommend. The first is Julian Jackson’s devastating KO of our own brilliant Herol Graham.

I think that Graham made the mistake of twice leading with the right hand here, leaving him readable and open to the counter lead right. Against such an awesome one-punch finisher like Jackson his mistake is proven here.

My second recommendation is my friend Wayne Alexander’s frightening second round finish of Takaloo. Surely a perfect left hook after Wayne puts himself outside Takaloo’s guard with the slip enabling the torque to land the left hook bang on the button. The result is evident in Wayne’s immediate move to a neutral corner before Takaloo hits the canvas.

Finally Fran, I’d just like to go back to your post and make comment upon the humanity of Iron Mike. At 00:30 we can see him after KOing Botha then holding him up and helping him to his feet like a brother. The demons that so seriously affected Tyson later are not evident here. Here we see a true fighting man with love and respect for his opponent and fellow fighter.


Ivan March 1, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Despite looking bulkier and stronger than in his early best period, Tyson was not really in good shape for this fight. He was well behind on points when he pulled off this unusual one-two, a feint deliberately away to the side to distract Botha and an indecently short right. Brilliant. Those who say Tyson was not technical and stylish are unfair, he was plenty of both. As he said, you have to be in shape to punch hard, but he lost interest in training long before the end of his career.
Regarding the best KO section, perhaps it’s time to give the Klitschko brothers some credit. They have very high KO ratios.


Fran March 1, 2012 at 9:46 pm

You have a great turn of phrase Ivan, “indecently short right.” Brings a smile to my face.

On the Klitschko suggestion, absolutely. Two highly skilled fighters who were schooled within the Eastern European amateur system and adapted to the Pro game brilliantly. Now, where to start…

Thanks Ivan


David March 1, 2012 at 12:48 am

Great knockout and Tyson during his prime, in my opinion, was one of the most ferocious boxers I have ever seen. I really think he installed fear in his opponents. Great breakdown Fran and just shows how important boxing fundamentals are.

I love watching Rocky Marciano. His knockouts of Joe Lewis through the ropes and the knockout of Joe Walcott are some of my favorites.


Fran March 1, 2012 at 9:35 pm

It’s all about the basics David, they never let you down. And good point about the fear that he instilled. I’m sure a good deal of that fear was attributable to the fact that most of his opponents just couldn’t manage the speed and precision of his attacks. He really was special.

Rocky Marciano, now that has to be one of the toughest and most resilient Heavyweight champs ever. Rough and brutal with a work rate that would make many welterweights blush. The ‘Suzy Q’ right hand, when landed, pretty much signaled the end for any opponent. Interestingly he had a very narrow stance and kept his head off centre. Quite raw, but astonishingly effective.

Great comment David.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: