BANG! BANG! BANG! Rating Boxing’s Hardest Punchers (Volume V)

Knockout artists Gennady Golovkin and Curtis Stevens collide in New York Saturday, and so what better time to revisit our annual showcase of boxing’s hardest punchers? The following ratings compile the finest knockout-to-fight percentages in the sport (all fighters must be top-10 world rated by the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board in order to qualify).

1. Gennady Golovkin (Middleweight)

Golovkin is boxing’s ogre du jour. He is the line from John Mugabi, Julian Jackson, Gerald McClellan, Felix Trinidad, Mike Tyson and Edwin Valero: fighters whose appeal mushroomed around an ability to register visceral knockouts — trellises that grew them into modern-day bogeymen.

An outstanding amateur (his record read 345-5) and 2004 Olympic medallist, Golovkin has chewed through the middleweight ranks as a pro. Born in Kazakhstan from Russian-Korean descent, he is a product of Russia’s utilitarian amateur programme — since realigned as a paid cutthroat by California-based trainer Abel Sanchez.

Golovkin is truly intimidating — a terminator in gloves. He is a measured stalker adroit at narrowing the space between himself and his quarry. Since HBO committed to an investment in him, “GGG” has, in turn, gutted Grzegorz Proksa, Gabriel Rosado and Mathew Macklin – the latter of whom he paralysed with a left to the solar plexus that resembled someone being run through with a bayonet.

Knockout to fight percentage: 88.89

2. Julio Ceja (Bantamweight)

20-year-old Mexican Ceja crashed the bantamweight rankings after a sterling (albeit losing) effort in May — dropping a closely contested decision to Doncaster stickman Jamie McDonnell in the latter’s home town.

Ceja is a left hooking machine; his pet punch the quintessential liver shot synonymous with his countrymen. “Pollito” rebounded from the McDonnell setback in recent weeks – his only defeat to date – by working over compatriot Juan Jose “Goofy” Montes in Jalisco, Mexico.

Knockout to fight percentage: 88.46

3. Ilunga Makabu (Cruiserweight)

At first glance Makabu seems like a statistical outlier yet the Congolese southpaw’s numbers stack up. Quick and with a fair amount of craft for a cruiserweight, Makabu looks to ambush his more cumbersome peers with piercing hooks and uppercuts – counter punches he has a knack of whipping home to stupefying effect.

One of South Africa’s rising stars, Makabu most recently dispatched once-beaten Oklahoman Eric “Danger“ Fields with one of the sweetest left hook finishes of the year.

Knockout to fight percentage: 87.50

4. Sergey Kovalev (Light Heavyweight)

British fans became more closely acquainted with “Krusher” Kovalev after the Florida-based Russian rode roughshod over unbeaten Welshman Nathan Cleverly in August.

Every punch Kovalev throws is solid; his accuracy unerring. It is a formidable concoction. His opponents break steadily; first they are cowed, then stunned before being sent scrambling to the canvas — often numerous times — as Kovalev methodically hammers them into submission. He will co-feature alongside fellow 175-pound dreadnought Adonis Stevenson on Nov. 30 in Quebec City, Canada, against Ukrainian talent Ismayl Sillakh.

Knockout to fight percentage: 86.96

5. Mikey Garcia (Featherweight) 

Garcia might have ranked higher save for a broken nose suffered against veteran Orlando Salido at the turn of the year that garnered a technical decision victory when a stoppage looked more likely (Garcia had floored Salido in three separate sessions).

Garcia followed that by visiting a four-round pounding upon shop-worn Puerto Rican action star Juan Manuel Lopez in Texas. Imperturbable and fundamentally sound, Garcia fights with a rare patience and poise. That all changes when he has a man going; the Oxnard technician — who wields a textbook one-two — is one of the deadliest finishers in the sport.

Knockout to fight percentage: 84.38

6. Lucas Matthysse (Junior Welterweight)

Until recently, Matthysse had threatened to eclipse even Golovkin. After steamrollering Mike Dallas Jr. and Lamont Peterson, the Argentine was pegged as a racing certainty to usurp world junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaeffer had been effusive in his praise (“He is the new Manny Pacquiao!”) yet “La Máquina” short-circuited against the Philadelphian in September – losing a competitive but clear decision on the Floyd Mayweather-Saul Alvarez bill in Vegas.

An unrelenting force at his best, Matthysse throws a poisonous straight right backed by a deadening body assault and hellish left hook. At 31, and after lucking out on a place in the Mayweather sweepstakes, he’ll be looking to return with a bang.

Knockout to fight percentage: 84.21

7. Marcos Maidana (Welterweight)

Maidana has returned to his destructive ways of late: since dropping a lop-sided decision to Missouri’s Devon Alexander in February 2012 he has hammered Mexican duo Jesus Soto Karass and Angel Martinez along with Californian sleeper Josesito Lopez.

A heavy-handed, clubbing puncher, he can be clumsy with it; next up for the Argentinean bruiser is a glamour fight against a notorious figure that, surprisingly, came within a single spot of making this list himself: Cincinnati firebrand Adrien Boner.

Knockout to fight percentage: 83.78

8. Hugo Ruiz (Bantamweight)

Flitting between stooping hunter and lanky counter puncher, Mexico’s Ruiz was deemed to have been on the wrong end of a hometown decision last year against Japanese bad boy Koki Kameda. After venting his frustration with a series of straight rights that helped demolish Giovanni Caro, Ruiz himself looked a tad fortunate in September when he was given the nod over Julio Cesar “Pingo” Miranda.

“Cuatito” is chasing a domestic showdown with undefeated 122 lb. hotshot Leo Santa Cruz — a match that almost guarantees fireworks — yet a clash with Ceja would be equally explosive.

Knockout to fight percentage: 82.86

9. Adonis Stevenson (Light Heavyweight)

Haitian-born Canadian Stevenson is a legitimate brute – a rough diamond uncovered by the late Emanuel Steward. “Superman” required just a single overhand left to depose former light heavyweight kingpin Chad Dawson back in June (the bout lasted a mere 76 seconds) and has since beaten former titlist Tavoris Cloud into submission.

After seeking redemption from a fractious past that involved serving jail time in Montreal, the 36-year-old stands to cash in with a lucrative late career flourish. A shootout against Kovalev would be sensational.

Knockout to fight percentage: 82.61

10. Carlos Cuadras (Junior Bantamweight)

25-year-old Cuadras became the fifth South American to make the cut after heavyweights Vitali Klitschko and David Haye exited the rankings due to inactivity.

Unbeaten in a 28-bout run, tallied against a patchy assortment at best, “El Principe” threw his hat into the ring for a crack at Thai world titlist Srisaket Sor Rungvisai when he halted Victor Zaleta in March thanks to a brutal uppercut — a punch he has mastered. Scheduled to return in December, the Distrito Federal banger is married to Olympic diving medalist Tatiana Ortiz.

Knockout to fight percentage: 82.14

About Andrew Harrison