Originally posted on Boxing Watchers  |  Last updated 12/28/11

LAS VEGAS - JUNE 22: Fernando Montiel (L) applies pressure on Pedro Alcazar in their WBO Super Flyweight Championship fight on June 22, 2002 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Montiel won with a sixth round technical knockout. Alcazar collapsed and died two days after the bout. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

We may wait until the very last minute around these parts, but rest assured the Boxing Watchers eventually hand out year-end awards just like every other sports site on the internets. We're kicking things off with our Knockout of the Year, and we'll progress on to the Fight of the Year, Fighter of the Year and our top 10 pound-for-pound list (which we do only once a year) over the next few days.

There's always an inherent hazard of recency bias in looking back over the whole boxing slate from 2011, because more recent fights naturally tend to stick in our minds. Hopefully we're avoiding that pitfall by going all the way back to February for our most memorable stoppage, which was Nonito Donaire's short night against Fernando Montiel.

Going into that fight, there were plenty of reasons to think Donaire might have his hands full. It was only his second fight at 118 pounds, and though his frame was plenty big enough for that weight class (and probably higher ones as well), we weren't 100 percent sure how his speed and power would translate against an accomplished champion like Montiel.

Actually, accomplished was probably selling Cochulito a little short. Montiel came into the bout on quite the roll, knocking out all four opponents he faced in 2010 in a total of just 10 rounds. All signs pointed to a long, probably close contest.

Donaire ended all of those thoughts in the second round. Despite getting hit with a solid right hand from Montiel, the Filipino Flash let loose with a left that caught his opponent as flush as any shot you'll ever see. Montiel was on the ground twitching, and though he was briefly allowed to continue, he was clearly finished.

We didn't award a Knockout of the Year in 2010, but if we had, we undoubtedly would have given it to Sergio Martinez for his stunning second-round defeat of Paul Williams. Donaire's triumph had a lot of similarities: We knew both men were capable of those kinds of feats, but to see them pull it off against such highly regarded competition was still remarkable.

Getting it done with one tremendous punch in a bout where you were not even assured of a victory is aways sweet. In Donaire's case, it was Knockout of the Year sweet.

Others we considered: In terms of pulling a fight out at the last minute, it didn't get much more dramatic than Mike Alvarado TKO10 Breidis Prescott. With Prescott looking more assertive than we'd ever seen him before, Alvarado had to weather quite the storm before dropping his foe in the final frame. Mile High would not have had his hand raised had the fight gone to the cards, so this was as clutch as it gets... Though it came about due to accumulated damage (and a ton of it) instead of from one or two breathtaking shots, a list of the top knockouts of 2011 wouldn't be complete without James Kirkland TKO6 Alfredo Angulo. That win didn't just save Kirkland's career, it put him back on the boxing map in a huge way... You had the feeling someone was going to end up on the canvas, perhaps repeatedly, but you still couldn't necessarily have predicted Kendall Holt TKO3 Julio Diaz. Even though we can be pretty sure Holt is a step down from truly world class boxers, he has been in a number of highly entertaining scraps, and this one happened to be one that saw him come out with a big victory. 

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