“Smokin” Joe Frazier and Larry “The Easton Assassin” Holmes!

By Ken Hissner - 11/22/2023 - Comments

In 1964, ‘Smokin’ Joe Frazier lost in the Olympic Trials to Buster Mathis twice. Mathis broke a thumb in the second match, so Frazier went on to the Olympics to win a Gold Medal in Tokyo, Japan.

In the 1972 Olympic Trials, Holmes lost for a second time, being stopped again by Nick Wells of the Air Force.

Frazier turned pro in August of 1965, winning his first eleven fights before being in with Argentina’s Oscar Bonavena, 21-2, in Madison Square Garden. He was knocked down twice in the first round but went on to win a split decision.

Eight fights later, he stopped Mathis in the eleventh round for the vacant NYSAC title.

Frazier would stop WBA champ Jimmy Ellis, 27-5, for his WBA and vacant WBC titles. He went on to defeat former champion Muhammad Ali, 31-0, in March of 1971.

In January of 1973, Frazier was stopped by former 1968 Olympic Gold Medalist “Big” George Foreman, 37-0, in two rounds in Kingston, Jamaica, being knocked down three times in each round. Two fights later, he lost to Ali in their second fight. Three fights later Ali defeated him again, called the “Thrilla in Manila” in their third match.

In a rematch with Foreman some three years later, Frazier was stopped after two knockdowns in the fifth round. He ended his career in his next fight in a draw with Floyd “Jumbo” Cummings, 15-1. His final record was 32-4-1 with 27 stoppages.

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In March of 1973, Holmes turned pro, winning his first 28 fights, and in June of 1978, he won the title, defeating Ken Norton, 40-4. Norton’s trainer, Eddie Futch, in Frazier’s gym told me neither wanted a rematch.

Seven wins later, Holmes stopped a much past his prime Ali, 56-3, after ten rounds, with Ali not coming out for the eleventh round. Seven wins later, he was fortunate to get a split decision over “Terrible” Tim Witherspoon, 15-0.

Two fights later, ‘Smokin’ Joe Frazier, for some reason, put his son Marvis, 10-0, in with Holmes, 44-0, in a non-title fight. Holmes stopped him in the first round and afterward said “That’s for the whipping’s your daddy gave me in the gym!”

Three fights later, Holmes won a close, if not disputed, decision over Carl “The Truth” Williams, 16-0. Holmes told his promoter King, “No more young lions!” He was 48-0 and lost to 1976 Olympic Gold Medalist and light heavyweight champion Michael Spinks, 27-0, who defeated Holmes in September of 1985.

Holmes afterward said, “Marciano (49-0) couldn’t wear my jock strap! I guess he forgot who beat him. In the rematch, Holmes lost a disputed decision to Spinks.

In January of 1988, Holmes was matched with champion “Iron” Mike Tyson, 32-0. At ringside sat casino owner and future US President Donald J. Trump next to Ali. Ali was introduced into the ring and tapped the gloves of Holmes, went to Ali, and whispered something in his ear. You can imagine what he said. Tyson, from the opening bell went after Holmes, finally dropping him “feet in the air” in the fourth round.

Holmes didn’t fight for three years and came back to defeat WBO champ Ray “Merciless” Mercer, 18-0. Next, he lost to WBC, WBA, and IBF champ former 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield, 27-0, in June of 1992 by decision.

Holmes went 12-1 before traveling to Denmark, losing to IBO champ “Super” Brian Nielsen, 31-0. Nielsen would go onto a 49-0 record before losing to Dicky Ryan, 47-4.

Holmes would end his career defeating the “4 round champ” Eric “Butterbean” Esch, 65-2-3, who never had anything but a 4-rounder. In the tenth and final round, Holmes was dropped which looked like Esch stepped on his foot. His final record was 69-6 with 44 stoppages.

Holmes making those two remarks after beating Marvis Frazier and about Rocky Marciano, after he lost to Michael Spinks seemed to come back to haunt him.

Between Frazier and Holmes, who wins?