Was Larry Holmes As Great As He Claimed He Was?

By Boxing News - 08/05/2023 - Comments

By Ken Hissner: Former world heavyweight champion Larry “The Easton Assassin” Holmes never stops telling whoever will listen how great of a boxer he was.

Now let’s look at the career of Holmes. Ernie Butler from Easton trained him in the amateurs and took him to Deer Lake, PA, at Ali’s camp. He sparred with Ali a bit. Then Don King, the promoter, fired Butler and hired his own trainer. Talk about loyalty on the part of Holmes.

Holmes wins his first 15 fights, then beats Rodney Bobick, 34-5, brother of Duane, who beat Holmes in his last amateur fight. Holmes was 21-0 when he defeated one-time contender Roy Williams 23-4. Five fights later, he fights hard-hitting Earnie Shavers, 54-6-1, in a title eliminator and wins a lopsided decision.

Three months later, in June of 1978, Holmes wins a split decision over Ken Norton for the WBC world title. Did he give Norton an immediate rematch? No! All scores were by one point.

After three defenses, Holmes gives Shavers a rematch and comes off the canvas in the seventh round. He stops Shavers in the eleventh round. Shavers, I understand, had asthma and, after five rounds, would start to slow down big time. Three defenses later, he faces Ali.

I went to Deer Lake to see Ali and ask why he was taking this match due to the condition Ali was in. He had a big belly, and I question him taking this fight and said, “You and Max Baer had the best physics among the champs, and look at the condition you are in. Why are you taking this fight? He padded his stomach and said, “I like my ice cream!” It was the only time Ali was stopped in his career.

His cut man Dr. Ferdie Pacheco told Ali he wouldn’t work his corner anymore after defeating Leon Spinks in the rematch and that he should never fight again. Ali didn’t listen and lost to Holmes and then to former champion Trevor Berbick and retired.

Holmes was 44-0, and he stopped the son of “Smokin” Joe Frazier, Marvis Frazier, who was 10-0 and stopped him in 2:57 of the first round. Afterward, Holmes said, “That’s for the whipping’s your daddy gave me in the gym!” Nice going, Joe.

Holmes was fortunate, in my opinion, at 42-0 to get a split decision over “Terrible” Tim Witherspoon, 15-0. Did he get a rematch? No. And Tim still tells me he deserved one and the decision.

Five fights later, Holmes, 47-0, defeats Carl “The Truth” Williams, 16-0, by decision. I felt, in my opinion, Williams won the fight and look at the difference in the amount of fights.

At 48-0, Holmes, in his next fight, lost his IBF title to IBF, WBA, and WBC world light heavyweight champion (the first time a reigning light heavy champion ever did this) Michael Spinks, 27-0, in September of 1985. Did Spinks avoid him as Holmes did with Norton? No, he gave him a rematch.

I had Spinks winning the last round in the first fight and the fight 8-7. After the fight, Holmes said, “Marciano couldn’t wear my jock strap!” Was it a racist remark? You decide. What does Rocky have to do with the loss? Rocky was 49-0, and at 48-0, Holmes blames Rocky?

In the rematch, I had Holmes ahead 9-6, getting robbed, and should have gotten a rematch but didn’t. Spinks makes two defenses and gets knocked out by “Iron” Mike Tyson in the first round and never fights again.

Holmes returned to the ring some twenty-one months later after losing to Spinks in his next fight against Mike Tyson, 32-0 and while Holmes is 48-1.

At ringside is former champion Muhammad Ali sitting next to casino owner and friend future US President Donald J. Trump. Ali is introduced into the ring and walks to Holmes first and touches the gloves of Holmes. Then walks to Tyson and whispered something in his ear. Not hard to guess what that was pertaining to something like “kick his ass?”

Holmes wins two of the first three rounds on two of the scorecards, and Tyson lowers the boom at 2:55 of the fourth round on Holmes, stopping him with his feet up in the air after he hits the canvas! Then he claims, “My arm got caught in the ropes!” No, Tyson hit you on the chin after he ran you down!

Holmes used what I consider a questionable “illegal jab” like a football player’s “straight arm” and got away with it his entire career holding it out there without jabbing with it as a defensive move. What would have happened if Rocky Marciano, who was shorter, came under it with a right uppercut and hit his elbow? Guess what would have happened?

Five fights after losing to Tyson Holmes upsets former WBO champion Ray “Merciless” Mercer, 18-0, who, after defeating Tommy “The Duke” Morrison, 28-0, relinquished the title. Holmes looked good in this one and should have gotten a title fight!” In his next fight he loses to IBF, WBA, and WBC world champion Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield, 27-0, by a rather large margin.

Six wins later, Holmes loses to WBC champion Oliver ‘The Atomic Bull’ McCall, 25-5, by a close decision. Four wins later, he travels to Denmark and loses to “Super” Brian Nielsen, 31-0, by a split decision, which I’m sure was a bad one. The same Nielsen at 49-0 was stopped by Dickie Ryan, 47-4.

Now YOU give your comments on if, like Holmes, claims he was better than Ali and claims to have been the greatest of all time!

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