The Pugilist

Pietrantonio takes a punch he – and you – will remember for a long time

The Pugilist

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Lavarn Harvell (right) connects with Tony Pietrantonio (Tim Shaffer/Reuters)

If you've ever wondered what it was like to get punched in the head — really hard — fortunately, you don't have to climb into the ring and find out yourself. Photographer Tim Shaffer gives you a pretty good idea of what it is like with his photo of Lavarn Harvell's knockout of Tony Pietrantonio in Atlantic City on Saturday night, writes Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports US.

Fighting on the undercard of the HBO-televised Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson light heavyweight title fight, Harvell knocked out Pietrantonio in a bout that got scant attention.

It was scary at the time, though, because when Pietrantonio went down, he slammed his head violently against the mat. He landed right in front of press row and his head hitting the mat was easily audible to reporters in the first several rows.

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The full version of the image captured by Shaffer

Immediately, officials signaled for a stretcher to be brought in, but Pietrantonio was fine and left the ring under his own power a few minutes later.

Shaffer's incredible photo caught the moment of impact perfectly. If you wanted to know what it feels like, look at Shaffer's picture. Pietrantonio's entire face is distorted as Harvell's punch lands squarely in the middle of his face.

What's scary is, the left hand that is cocked in the photo followed seconds later and Pietrantonio went down and out, something that is just as obvious in Al Bello's image of the same punch from a different angle and a split-second later:

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The punch looked just as terrifying from this different angle (Al Bello/AFP)

This year's Boxing Photo of the Year competition is hotting up  - though for British boxing fans the frontrunner is probably still this incredible image caught by an Action Images staff photographer of Dereck Chisora and David Haye at the press conference after Chisora's world heavyweight title fight defeat against Vitali Klitschko.

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David Haye (right) punches Dereck Chisora during the press conference brawl that shocked the world

Boxing has always been a fertile ground for photographers, with the great Muhammad Ali as photogenic in the ring as out of it, as this image of him punching George Foreman during their famous 'Rumble in the Jungle' shows:

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Muhammad Ali (right) hits George Foreman during the 'Rumble in the Jungle'

While Ali is indisputably a legend, the luckless Hashim Rahman is set to go down in history mainly for the unintentionally hilarious image of him appearing to 'wear' Don King's crown after being flattened by Lennox Lewis in their world title fight:

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Hasim Rahman lies on the canvas after being knocked out by Lennox Lewis (L) in the fourth round of their WBC/IBF …

Shaffer's photo, while not historically significant given the stature of the fighters involved, is not to be forgotten. As with all the best boxing images, you can not only see the moment of impact in his picture, but you can almost feel it, too. Ouch!

Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports US / Eurosport

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