BOXING fans have been treated to some seriously brutal KOs in 2021.
And SunSport has collated the top five with Brits Dillian Whyte, Conor Benn and Callum Smith making the list.
From sickening body shots that take a split second to sink in, to wild hooked haymaker that snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, few sporting finales can top a KO.
Mexican gunslingers and America's biggest bangers definitely did well in the UK and abroad.
But a selection of heavy-handed home fighters also went viral with an exciting mix of pinpoint punches, lucky shots and ruthless combinations.
SunSport tried to remember some the best UK KOs from 2021….
Conor Benn vs Chris Algieri – Dec 11 – Liverpool
The Destroyer lived up to his name with a thunderous right hand that pierced the American’s guard and put him to sleep on his feet.
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Thank goodness for Benn’s new maturity and cool-headedness as he had a split-second opportunity to unload another blow on the veteran – when he was out cold and upright – but he held his cocked hand back and let him slump.
It was no wild haymaker either, Benn had bobbed and weaved well in the opening sessions.
Then he feinted, jabbed and arrowed in a thunderbolt. It was precise and concussive and left everyone wanting more.
Callum Smith vs Lenin Castillo – Sept 25 – London
Now 33-year-old Castillo has recovered, this can be looked back on as a moment of sporting excellence.
But for a horribly long period inside Tottenham Stadium, on the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk, there was a genuine fear we had seen a tragedy unfold.
Liverpool ace Smith, making his debut up at light-heavy, clearly enjoyed cutting less weight and landed a sickening right hand.
Everything about the following ten or so minutes was scary as Castillo’s body remained stiff and his legs hung in the air and shook, Smith took to a neutral corner, bent to his knees and prayed hard.
The ringside medics were magnificent but it felt like an age before he was whisked away and to hospital where he thankfully made a full recovery.
Dillian Whyte vs Alexander Povetkin II – Mar 27 – Gibraltar
Whyte’s doubters will claim the Russian warhorse was suffering from Covid after effects and looking for a payday after winning the original bout with a thunderous uppercut KO.
But take a look at the bombs he threw in the first couple of rounds and the giant right hands he ate, without ever looking for an easy way out.
When the end came it was savage, another Body Snatcher right to the skull smashed Povetkin into the ropes and he bounced off them – cartoon-style – straight into another right hand and one final left hook.
SunSport witnessed the valiant Russian needing help leaving the arena a couple of hours later, such was the severity of the finish and Povetkin retired soon after.
Lee McGregor vs Vincent Legrand – Aug 6 – Belfast
Scotland’s European bantamweight suffered the first scare of his promising career when he was dropped in the second by the 32-0 Frenchman.
Legrand landed a flush right hand to drop the Brit but he could not finish the job as McGregor dug in to survive and eventually recover from the shocking Belfast decking.
Within two rounds he had started to turn the tide and was testing and tapping Legrand’s guard with uppercuts inclose.
And once he had his prey distracted by those probing shots up the middle, he whipped a right hook into his ribs and folded Legrand in half and he failed to beat the count.
Most great fighters value a body shot finish over a head shot and for McGregor’s to have came after a knockdown for himself was extra impressive.
Joe Cordina vs Joshua Hernandez – Aug 14 – Essex
The Welsh Wizard had gained a reputation as a clinical and expert boxer who usually needed the judges to confirm his victories.
But, when faced with a game American visiter in Eddie Hearn's back garden, we saw his ruthless side burst out inside the first minute.
A jab teed up an arrow of a right hand that robbed Hernandez of all of his senses and left him sprayed out on the canvas.
The peach of a blow left the visitor blitzed on the floor and unable to beat the count.
It was a rare glimpse of Cordina's brilliant power punching and a warning to the rest of the super-feather division that he is a genuine threat.
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