Thunder from ‘Lightning’: Yenifel Vicente’s perfect punch is PBC’s Knockout of the Year

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Choosing the top knockout of 2015 was akin to asking the mother of a brain surgeon, rocket scientist and fighter pilot to pick her smartest kid: There’s no easy answer, and no wrong answer.

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PBC Knockout of the Year

Prefer a stunningly swift fight-ending shot from a guy not known for his power? You had the lights-out overhand right from Gabriel Bracero—he of four knockouts in 25 previous fights—that put Danny O’Connor to sleep 41 seconds into their October 10 bout.

Partial to multiple-punch flurries that hit the bull’s-eye in almost slow motion-like fashion? There was Krzysztof Glowacki’s vicious combination that first drove Marco Huck into the corner, then nearly through the ropes on August 14.

Fancy a thunderbolt of a showstopper ripped from the script of a Rocky fight scene? Edwin Rodriguez at your service, his cannon-like right hand sending previously unbeaten knockout artist Michael “Cannonhandz” Seals stumbling across the ring, into the ropes and tumbling flat on his back.

These are just three of probably a dozen legitimate candidates for PBC Knockout of the Year. But after much debate, the editors of favored a late-year KO in which a 122-pound Dominican Republic native clocked a fellow countryman with a textbook punch that was at once breathtaking and frightening. (The PBC broadcast teams selected Bracero's KO of O'Connor.)

Yenifel Vicente entered his December 8 bout against Juan Dominguez in Trenton, New Jersey, at 27-3-2 with 19 knockouts—including two in a row—yet he was the clear underdog, someone who was supposed to be just another steppingstone on his unbeaten opponent’s path to a title shot.

But, as the saying goes, this is why boxing is the most unpredictable of sports.

Vicente made it clear from the start that he was coming to fight, pressing the action and landing crisp power shots with both hands in a one-sided first round. After a more competitive second round that included a one-point deduction for Dominguez for low blows, Vicente came out in the third and swiftly—and dramatically—ended the show.

Seconds into the round, Vicente feigned a left to the body, causing Dominguez to cover up, elbows tight to his rib cage, fists shielding his face—so much so that he didn’t see “The Lightning” rear back and unload a lightning-quick overhand right, the punch landing with absolute precision to the left temple.

Upon contact, Dominguez’s head snapped violently to his right. His legs went completely out from under him as his left arm swung wildly. Then his body contorted, gravity took its toll and Dominguez collapsed, his right shoulder and side of his head simultaneously crashing to the canvas with a thud.

Finally, with one last bit of inertia created from the fall, Dominguez rolled from his side to his back, his right arm bent above his head, his left arm lying limp at his side. To say Dominguez was knocked out cold would be to underplay it.

After landing the shot, Vicente raised his arms triumphantly, knowing he had ended the fight. But after referee Earl Brown made it official by quickly halting his count and motioning for medical personnel, Vicente’s jubilation gave way to grave concern as his opponent lay motionless.

Thankfully, it wasn’t long before Dominguez came to, had movement of his extremities and was transported to a hospital, where he was treated and released.

“The punches that ended it were part of a combination that we’d been working on in camp, a lower shot to the body followed by an overhand right,” Vicente said after the fight. “I was elated initially when I got the knockdown, but then I immediately felt sorrow when I saw that my fellow countryman was actually seriously hurt.

“I hope that this fight shows that I can’t be beaten at 122 pounds. I’m just ready for bigger and better fights.”

His next opponent can only hope that doesn’t include a bigger and better punch.

For a complete look back at Dominguez vs Vicente, check out our fight page.

Coming Thursday: the PBC Fight of the Year. For all of our editors' picks, follow our Best of PBC 2015 entries.

Yenifel Vicente and Juan Dominguez

For two rounds against Juan Dominguez, Yenifel Vicente threw punches with bad intentions. Early in the third, he landed the perfect shot that knocked Dominguez out cold for PBC's Knockout of the Year. (Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions)

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