Micheal Renney, from Hartlepool, was told to apologise to the man for remarks made during a confrontation outside a Sunderland city centre pub.
Teesside Crown Court heard a disagreement broke out between Renney and the victim after the pub closed when Renney was having a cigarette.
It is not known what Renney said although Christopher Bevan, prosecuting, said witnesses present told Renney he should apologise.
Mr Bevan said: “He said he would. He then approached the victim and he punched him to the head very hard.”
The victim suffered a gash to the back of his head after hitting it on the ground and needed stitches at hospital.”
In a statement, he said he was lucky as people have died due to such one-punch attacks.
Renney, 37, of Turnbull Street, Hartlepool, admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The court heard he had no previous convictions for violence and Andrew Pickin, mitigating, said the assault was “as short lived as they come”.
He said Renney, a father of six, with another child on the way, employed a number of people who rely on him.
A pre-sentence report said he was a low risk for reoffending.
The Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Paul Watson, said Renney’s behaviour was “quite unnecessary”, adding: “This court knows only too well such injuries can often be far more serious.
"In this case fortunately they weren’t.”
Renney was given a 12-month community order with 140 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay his victim £250 compensation.