Who Was the Best of the Best in Ali, Frazier, Holmes and Tyson!
By Ken Hissner: This writer got to meet Muhammad Ali, “Smokin” Joe Frazier, Larry “The Easton Assassin” Holmes, and “Iron” Mike Tyson! Two were fine and two not so fine. But it’s not personalities I’m asking about, but who was the best of the best as a boxer?
Ali goes back the farthest to the 1960 Olympics, moving down from heavyweight to the next lower weight after losing in trials at heavyweight to SGT. Percy Price from NJ and was allowed to drop to the 178# division, where he won a Gold Medal.
Frazier was in the 1964 Olympic trials lost back-to-back bouts to Buster Mathis, whose thumb was broken in the second meeting allowing alternate Frazier to take his place and win a Gold Medal. In March of 1968, in the pros, Frazier stopped Mathis in 11 rounds for the vacant NYSAC title.
In the 1972 Olympic trials, Nick Wells repeated his stoppage of Holmes in the same year in the Golden Gloves. In the Olympic box-off, Holmes lost to Duane Bobick by DQ3 for excessive holding. In October of 1975, Holmes in the pro’s stopped Bobick in 6 rounds. Not Duane but his brother Rodney.
In 1984 Tyson, in the Olympic trials, lost back-to-back fights to Henry Tillman. In June of 1990, in the pros, Tyson stopped Tillman in the first round.
That gives you an idea of their background. Now we go to the pro ranks. All would win world titles.
Ali would start his career in 1960 and end his career in 1981 with a 56-5 record with 37 stoppages. In his twentieth fight, he won the world title, stopping Sonny Liston in February of 1964 in 6 rounds and repeating with a first round knockout in the rematch fifteen months later. He would make eight successful defenses before losing his license due to not entering the military.
In October of 1970, Ali returned to the ring with a pair of wins. In March of 1971, he challenged Frazier for his WBC & WBA titles losing in 15 rounds getting knocked down in the last round. He lost by points 8-6, 9-6, and 11-4.
In January of 1974, Ali would win the rematch with Frazier in defense of his NABF title while both were former champions. In October of 1975, Ali won again, defending his WBC & WBA titles he had regaining stopping Frazier in the 14th round.
In October of 1980, Ali would lose his only career fight by stoppage to Holmes in the 10th round. It was his next to last fight before retiring. Holmes had served as a sparring partner for Ali at the latter’s Deer Lake, PA, camp in the early part of Holmes’s career.
Frazier would start his career in 1965 and end it in 1981. His final record was 32-4-1 with 27 stoppages. In his twentieth fight, he would win the NYSAC title, stopping Buster Mathis, 23-0, in 11 rounds.
Frazier made nine successful defenses before losing to WBC & WBA champion George Foreman, 37-0, in 2 rounds. As reported earlier, he would defeat Ali and lose their next two fights.
In June of 1976, in a rematch with Foreman, Frazier was stopped in 5 rounds in a NABF title fight after both were former champions. He ended his career in his next fight, fighting to a draw with Floyd Cummings.
Holmes would start his career in 1973 and end it in 2002. His final record was 69-6, with 44 by stoppage. In his twenty-eighth fight defeated Ken Norton, 40-4, by split decision. It was reported neither wanted a rematch per Bobby Goodman, who represented Norton.
After 16 successful title defenses, Holmes, in a non-title bout, stopped Frazier’s son Marvis Frazier, 10-0, in the first round. Afterward, he remarked, “that’s for the whippings your daddy gave me in the gym!”
In September of 1985, Holmes lost his title to light heavyweight champion Michael Spinks, 27-0, by decision losing for the first time after 48 straight wins. He lost a disputed decision in the rematch in April of 1986. In January of 1988, in his next fight, he was stopped in 4 rounds by Tyson.
Tyson would start his career in 1985 and end it in 2005. His final record was 50-6 with 44 stoppages. In his twenty-eighth fight, he won the title, stopping WBC champion Trevor Berbick, 31-4-1, in 2 rounds in November 1986. This was the same Berbick that ended Ali’s career.
In his fifth defense, Tyson stopped Holmes in 4 rounds.
In his ninth defense, he lost to Buster Douglas, 28-4-1, in 10 rounds in February 1990. In March 1996, he would regain the WBC title, stopping Frank Bruno, 40-4, in 3 rounds. In September, in his next fight, he stopped WBA champion Bruce Seldon, 33-3, in the first round. In December, he lost his title to Evander Holyfield, 32-3 in 11 rounds. In June of 1977, in a rematch, he lost to Holyfield by DQ3.
In June 2002, Tyson lost to WBC & IBF champion Lennox Lewis, 39-2-1, stopped in 8 rounds. He won his next fight before losing his next two and retiring.
“The Most meaningful fight was beating Holmes for what he did to Ali,” a fight Ali should not have taken.
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