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Gone in the last 180 seconds: Eight memorable last-round knockouts

From Eubank to Mosley, Froch to Chavez — it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.

WBC and IBF Light Welterweight Tittle Fight - Julio Cezar Chavez v Meldrick Taylor Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has been a contributor at Bad Left Hook since 2018.

A month back, ‘Gone in 180 seconds: Eight memorable first-round knockouts’ saw us take a look at some of the quickest, memorable knockouts in boxing history.

This week, we remember some of the stoppages that were left to the final round.

Chris Eubank vs Michael Watson II (151 seconds left in 1991)

The result of this WBO super-middleweight title fight is rightfully overshadowed by the events that followed.

Both fighters were dropped in the final seconds of the eleventh round, but Watson’s fall proved career-ending. A slick uppercut from Eubank penetrated Watson’s guard just seconds after touching the canvas himself, with the Islington fighter’s head snapping off the second rope.

The bell sounded for the end of the eleventh and Watson was ushered back to his corner where Jimmy Tibbs and Dean Powell attempted to aid their fighter. Watson seemed alert and was sent back out for the final round in a fight he was winning comfortably on the scorecards.

The final bell sounded, and Eubank smelt blood. The fight finished with 151 seconds remaining on the clock, but the time on Watson’s career was up.

Watson would face life-changing injuries that night, spending the 40 days that followed in a coma and undergoing six brain surgeries.

Audley Harrison vs Michael Sprott II (115 seconds left in 2010)

Billed as ‘win or bust’ for Audley Harrison, the former Olympic gold medalist was looking for revenge over fellow Briton Michael Sprott.

Sprott had kayoed “A-Force” three years prior, handing him his third defeat since turning over after the 2000 Sydney Games. His fourth loss came in 2008 against Martin Rogan, with Harrison meeting Sprott for a second time with a record of 26-4.

The vacant European heavyweight title was on the line in London. After trailing on all three scorecards, Harrison found a destructive left hook from the Gods having spent a majority of the final round tucked up on the ropes, absorbing Sprott’s pressure.

Harrison fought a majority of the contest as a southpaw after locking his shoulder.

That win catapulted Harrison into a WBA heavyweight title fight against David Haye later that same year – the first pay-per-view fight promoted by Eddie Hearn, whom, to this day, often recalls the shambolic nature of the event.

Mike Weaver vs John Tate (45 seconds left in 1980)

With a record of 21-9, Mike “Hercules” Weaver was regarded as a soft touch by Bob Arum. Arum was looking to springboard 24-year-old Tate into the spotlight in the first defence of his WBA heavyweight title.

Tate was unbeaten in 20 contests and looking for his slice of the pie as boxing experienced a post-Ali, Olympics and Rocky boom.

The champion was bigger and better in every department, but as the bell for the 15th-round chimed, Weaver’s manager Don Manuel lit a fuse in his man. “Go out there and knock him out. If you don’t, don’t come back,” he shouted from the away corner.

That, he did. After front-foot pressure from Weaver in the closing moments, a huge left hook sent an exhausted Tate crashing to the canvas, leaving him face down in a motionless heap.

James Toney vs Charles Williams (15 seconds left in 1994)

This IBF super-middleweight title contest saw the champion, James Toney, enjoy a slender lead going into the twelfth and final round.

Charles Williams had done a decent job in suffocating Toney throughout the contest, landing spiteful uppercuts in an attempt to snatch the 0 from “Lights Out”.

Williams had lost just once in ten years and was on the comeback after losing his light-heavyweight strap the year before.

Toney could barely see out of his left eye, but as Williams dropped off the pace in the later rounds, a perfect jab, right-hand combination sent “Prince’s” body contorting like the Wembley arch before crashing to the canvas.

Toney would lose to Roy Jones Jr and Montell Griffin in his next two outings, with Williams retiring after going 1-1-1 in his next three.

Carl Froch vs Jermain Taylor (14 seconds left in 2009)

Behind on tow of the three scorecards, the “Cobra” announced himself to America with a dramatic stoppage of Taylor with just seconds to spare.

The WBC super middleweight title was on the line in Mashantucket, and Froch rallied late after being dropped by “Bad Intentions” Taylor in round three.

“You have to do something special now, Carl,” his trainer, Robert McCracken, shouted at him as he entered the final round.

Boy, did he deliver?!

A huge right led Froch to pummel Taylor’s body and head before the challenger slumped to the canvas, propped up by the neutral corner. He rose to his feet, but 18 punches in 15 seconds from the Nottingham fighter saw him retain his 168-pound crown in the nick of time.

Murat Gassiev vs Yuniel Dorticos (8 seconds left in 2018)

En route to the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight final, Gassiev stopped Dorticos inside the Bolshoy Ice Dome, Sochi with just eight seconds left on the clock.

Securing two knockdowns in the twelfth round before the stoppage, it was a case of when, not if, Gassiev was going to get the Cuban out of there.

The home fighter sent the WBA champion crashing through the ropes unifying two titles in the 200-pound division, setting up a final with Oleksandr Usyk five months later.

Julio Cesar Chavez vs Meldrick Taylor (2 seconds left in 1990)

The Ring Magazine’s Fight of the Year in 1990 has become the benchmark to which all final-round stoppages are measured.

Taylor had an unassailable lead on two of the three scorecards as the bell for the twelfth round rang inside the Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas.

Taylor had controlled the fight proving too slick, quick, powerful and smart for the Mexican icon who arrived at this unified super-lightweight fight with a perfect 68-0 record.

Taylor was bloodied and bruised as the final round began, but all he had to do was survive. With under a minute remaining, Taylor decided to trade with Chavez when he should have been riding his bicycle.

Chavez drops Taylor with a stiff right hand, and the crowd erupts. The seconds count down, and Taylor climbs to his feet, but Richard Steele waves the fight off, igniting pandemonium in the arena.

Their rematch in 1994 would see a repeat via an eighth-round TKO.

Shane Mosley vs Ricardo Mayorga (1 second left in 2008)

“Shane Mosley, I love you,” were the words of Larry Merchant as “Sugar” Shane had just toppled Nicaragua’s Ricardo Mayorga with one second to spare.

The vacant WBA Inter-Continental super-welterweight title was on the line in Carson, with both fighters on the decline after sharing 84 fights between them during their respected careers.

The fight itself is fairly forgettable, but with scorecards of 107-102, 105-104 for Mosley and 105-104 for Mayorga going into the final round, Mosley took the decision away from the judges with an explosive onslaught.

A left hook to the body sealed the deal as the bell rang for the end of the fight. The official time of the stoppage was 2:59.

The pair would shamelessly meet again in 2015, aged 43 and 41.

Follow Lewis Watson @lewroyscribbles

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