It only takes one punch to make the best plans go awry. In boxing, a fighter looking ahead to future opportunities can find himself on the canvas with his dreams crushed. 2012 saw its fair share of established champions and prospects experience this emotional and career devastation. Here are the most notable.
5. SERGIO THOMPSON TKO2 JORGE LINARES
Jorge Linares has not had the superstar career that Golden Boy Promotions envisioned, but he seemed to be on the right track even after suffering a bloody TKO defeat to Antonio DeMarco. That bout had been dominated by Linares until the later rounds and it was one of the best fights of 2011. Linares was scheduled to have a highly anticipated rematch with DeMarco on July 7 as long as he took care of business against Sergio Thompson on Match 31.
Thompson had other plans and took complete control of the fight midway through the second with a huge overhand right. Thompson hammered him on the ropes relentlessly to score a knockdown and produce a gaping cut above Linares left eye. After a brief consultation with the ringside doctor, the bout was called.
At 26 years old, Linares’s career is now back at square one.
4. DENIS GRACHEV TKO8 ISMAYL SILLAKH
“I will break Ismayl Sillakh.” – Denis Grachev
The pre-fight Ivan Drago quote was cute, but no one seriously gave the unheralded Denis Grachev much chance against Ismayl Sillakh, the undefeated Ukranian that had been beating the drums in the press for a matchup with the likes of Jean Pascal or Lucian Bute. For most of the fight, Sillakh easily avoided Grachev’s wild haymakers with good movement and counter-punching.
Grachev began to time right hooks in the sixth but Sillakh took them well and began coasting, a tactic he paid for dearly in the eighth when he was badly staggered by a short right hand. Sillakh stumbled to the ropes and opted to cover up instead of hold, resulting in Grachev turning Sillakh’s head into a living speedbag. The punishment was quick and brutal with Sillakh sagging to the canvas for his first defeat.
The showing would earn Grachev a fight with Lucian Bute this past November. Sillakh has yet to make his comeback.
KO SEQUENCE BEGINS AT 38:48 MARK
3. SONNY BOY JARO TKO6 PONGSAKLEK WONJONGKAM
Going into this fight, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam had not lost a fight since 2007 and never by KO. It was Wonjongkam’s fifth defense of his WBC flyweight title while Sonny Boy Jaro, whose record going in was 34-10-5, was not considered a serious threat. Maybe all the talk of being a pushover angered Jaro, because he came out with bad intentions. He dropped Wonjongkam with a cuffing left hook in the first and made a concerted effort to work the body. Wonjongkam hit the canvas again in the third and twice in the six to signal the end of the fight. The final sequence was especially brutal as the ref’s attempt to give the future Hall of Famer every chance to fight off the ropes just resulted in Wonjongkam having his boxing career beat out of him.
Afterward, Wonjongkam would reel off four wins over a four-month span. It was simply fool’s gold as his next step up against Rey Migreno, a fighter Wonjongkam had previously beat twice, resulted in another emphatic TKO defeat. Wonjongkam wisely called it a career with a final record of 87-5-2 with 46 KOs.
2. DANNY GARCIA TKO4 AMIR KHAN
Angel Garcia may or may not have gotten in Amir Khan’s head in the lead-up by saying Pakistanis can’t fight, but there was no doubt about the impact of Danny Garcia’s left hook on Khan’s cranium. Khan was winning this fight handily but still getting clipped with left hooks in exchanges. It would be one in the third that landed on the neck that began Khan’s downfall. The ramifications of this upset loss were huge — it ended Khan’s hope of facing Floyd Mayweather and severed his 5-year professional relationship with trainer Freddie Roach. Credit to Khan — the man went down swinging and took a bunch of hellacious shots in the fourth.
1. JOSESITO LOPEZ TKO9 VICTOR ORTIZ
With a Canelo fight on tap next, nothing could be safer for a big welterweight like Victor Ortiz than facing a guy that’s a career 140-pounder, right? Tell that to Victor Ortiz’s jaw which is still recovering over five months later after being broken in several places at the hands of Josesito Lopez, who showed absolutely no fear, or respect for that matter, to Ortiz. Lopez weathered Ortiz’s dirty tactics (rabbit punches), and focused on powerful haymaker hooks throughout the fight that gave Ortiz pause and produced huge ohhs and ahhs from the crowd. On replay, you literally see the moment in Ortiz’s eyes when Lopez’s jaw-breaking power knocks the fight out of him.
Lopez’s performance would earn him in a headlining slot against Canelo Alvarez at the MGM Grand this past May.