As a hobby I wrote a short story where Character A wanted Character B unconscious for a few hours and to this end A punched B to the chin.
A reader, who claimed she was a doctor, said this was a stupid cliche that triggered her each time she saw this in fiction. She claimed it is not viable to try KO'ing others by punching them. She said that:
Punches are unreliable; their strength cannot be reliably adjusted to get the intended result. Once a sufficiently powerful punch lands, there's no telling whether the punch will (a) have no visible effect (b) render the victim unconscious (c) kill the victim.
Even if by means of pure luck the punch does result in a KO (and not death or an alerted but undamaged opponent) unconsciousness from traumatic concussion lasts very shortly, seconds to minutes, tops, so the time is insufficient to transport the victim anywhere.
Therefore, according to her, the cliche, despite its ubiquity, is pure nonsense and should be avoided by anyone who wishes to write sensibly.
I did some research by reading Wikipedia and Googling and it seems that she was correct at least at point 2.
However, if, as she claims, one cannot attempt to land a knockout punch without a significant risk of the receiver's death, then what about boxing, MMA, and other such sport competitions? If what she said was true, I suppose we would keep seeing fighters killing each other during tournaments and matches, but this just doesn't happen.
Is it correct that a punch with knockout power cannot be reliably expected to KO the receiver, but may always kill the receiver or have little visible effect?