Commentary

It was the most devastating knockout I've ever seen

It was as severe a knockout punch as you'll ever see. Somehow Emmanuel Nwodo survived Darnell Wilson's devastating left hand. Now Wilson takes his punching power to "Friday Night Fights" versus BJ Flores.

Updated: February 6, 2008, 10:47 AM ET
By Joe Tessitore | ESPN.com

My kids were chanting. My wife was gasping. My broadcast partner was raving. And the Internet boxing message boards were already erupting.

It all started from one moment, one punch. Darnell Wilson hit Emmanuel Nwodo with a left hand on June 29, 2007. Not just any left hand. It was the hardest punch I have ever seen a man hit with.

In fact, almost every boxing insider ringside at Staten Island that night agreed. Teddy Atlas noted that in all his years he had never seen a knockout as shocking, as sudden and as devastating as that one.

Nwodo's head snapped violently to the side, his legs crumbled underneath him. He fell to a heap. That was the last time Wilson was in a fight. The next time is Friday night, when Ring Magazine's No. 9 cruiserweight faces unbeaten BJ Flores (ESPN2, 9 ET)

"Things are going pretty good. The guy I'm fighting, he's undefeated, he was a real good amateur," Wilson said. "He hasn't beaten a top pro yet, but he hasn't learned how to lose. I don't really care about that -- I'm going to win regardless of what he's done."

My kids would like that. Thanks to Wilson's KO of the Year, they have a dinner coming to them. You see, the chant they were screaming ringside was "rain-forr-est, rain-forr-est" -- as in the kid-themed Rain Forrest Cafe.

That was the bet they made with their mom. She took Nwodo. My wife would gladly take the trade-off of eating chicken fingers near faux gorillas in exchange for not mentally scarring her children for life. That's what she thought was happening. That's how severe the KO was.

For the record, Nwodo was and is fine. How he survived that punch, I will never know. It was the fourth straight knockout win for the Ding-A-Ling Man (greatest nickname in all of sports -- don't even question it!). Before that, he had suffered four straight losses. Now Wilson's career is red hot after having spent years lingering around the Maryland club scene.

"Some people just see me as a crude puncher," Wilson reflected. "I'm a thinking man's fighter. I actually have good boxing skills. I really set up my punches. I think I have really, really good quickness. I can counter you on a mistake, that's where I shine, big time."

Darnell Wilson
Javiel Centeno/Fight Wire ImagesAfter delivering one of the hardest punches ever seen on "Friday Night Fights", Darnell Wilson, left, will try and duplicate those efforts versus BJ Flores.
BJ Flores is hoping he doesn't make any of those dangerous mistakes.

"I know everything I need to know about Darnell Wilson. The main thing is, he's a very big puncher. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows what Darnell Wilson can and can't do," said Flores, the two-time national amateur champion.

Flores is a Mormon who admirably served on a two-year mission to Mexico. The mission that he has right in front of him now is a golden opportunity he fully embraces.

"I respect [Wilson], I think he's good for the sport," Flores said. "He's very exciting, he wins fights by knockout and that's what people want to see. So I think he's great for TV, it makes a great fight. He's got a big name, he's a staple on ESPN. It's kind of fun fighting someone who everybody knows who he is."

Flores wants everyone to know him. He has passed all his tests so far. Flores is 28 years old and has been working his way through the cruiserweight middle ground since 2003. He is a speedy former football player who has taken many of his natural athletic gifts into the ring. Wilson has a way of finding out if the gift of a good chin is included among them. Yet Flores plans on turning the tables.

"I've seen a million guys that fight like Darnell Wilson, and he's never seen a guy that fights like me," Flores confidently says. "I guarantee you that. I plan on stopping him late. That's what the plan is."

Heck of a plan. Some would point out that there is one flaw: The Ding-A-Ling man isn't on board with it.

"I will finish him when he gets hurt," the bulldozing Wilson says. "I'll take punches to finish him, I don't care. That's just my thing. They know that."

Joe Tessitore is the blow-by-blow announcer for ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights."

Joe Tessitore has been the blow-by-blow announcer for ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" and "Wednesday Night Fights" since 2002 and contributes a weekly boxing column to ESPN.com.

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