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Tony Pietrantonio takes a punch he’ll remember for a long time

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Lavarn Harvell (R) connects on 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, N.J., on Saturday.

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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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.

The good news is that Pietrantonio is fine.

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Muhammad Ali stands over Sonny Liston (AP file photo)

And if there is a competition for boxing Photo of the Year, now we know the leader in the clubhouse. Boxing has been blessed to have had some legendary photographers, such as Neil Leifer, recording its history over the years. And guys like Chris Farina, Tom Casino, Ed Mulholland and Will Hart are giants in the field today.

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But it's hard to imagine any of them shot a picture that is more dramatic than Shaffer's. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the photo of Muhammad Ali standing over a downed Sonny Liston in Lewiston, Maine, urging him to get up.

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

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