“Smokin” Joe Frazier vs. Larry “The Easton Assassin” Holmes!

By Boxing News - 11/03/2023 - Comments

By Ken Hissner: Two of the meanest heavyweight champions out of the ring I ever met were “Smokin” Joe Frazier and Larry “The Easton Assassin” Holmes!

I met Muhammad Ali in 1973 in the center city of Philly and even was in his Cherry Hill, New Jersey, home just two weeks later after having lost to Ken Norton with a broken jaw by a split decision. He was one of the funniest people I ever met. In a crowd, Ali had a heckler say, “Next time you fight Norton, be a man, not a boy!” Ali replied, “Did you call me Roy?”

I Met “Iron” Mike Tyson in 1982 in Catskill, NY, at the home of Cus D’Amato. We watched films in his bedroom supplied by manager Jim Jacobs from his “Greatest Fights of the Century” collection. Tyson loved watching former champion Jack Dempsey, no socks, no robes, etc.

When Tyson was 16-0, he called me, knowing I keep records, and he asked about David Jaco, a future opponent, and I said, “Not to worry, just a big white guy!” Tyson took him out in the first round. When he was world champion in Atlantic City preparing for a title defense, his trainer Kevin Rooney asked if I wanted to see Tyson in the dressing room. I walked in, and Tyson ran over and grabbed me in a bear hug by the waist and lifted me off the ground and my only thought was, “I’m glad he likes me!”

My initial meeting with “Smokin” Joe Frazier was in his North Broad Gym in Philly. I was watching someone on a heavy bag when I heard someone shouting behind me, saying, “Move, or I’ll use you for a heavy bag!” I turned around, and there was Frazier.

In 1982 and 1983, I promoted three shows, Allentown, Mt. Pocono, and Easton, PA shows. Frazier’s brother approached me in their gym and said, “Team Frazier is turning pro, and you being a promoter, how would you like to work with us?” I replied, “On one condition, your brother Joe has nothing to do with it!” He replied, “Come on upstairs to the office.” As I entered the doorway, there was Frazier with a snarl on his face and said, “Is this the guy?” I saluted him and walked back down the stairs and out of the gym.

Years later, while also living in Whitemarsh Twp, PA, I asked a friend of Joe’s, a cop named Naz Galie, a fellow motorcycle buddy. I said, “Why don’t we do a surprise party for Joe?” and he replied, “You don’t even like Joe!” I said, “he’s the ex-champ living here, and no one has done anything for him.”

We tried for six months through his secretary while Frazier was on the road with his band, Joe Frazier, and the Knockouts! The cop contacts his wife, Florence, and we go to the house, and she was thrilled.

All of a sudden Joe comes through the front door and shouts, “What you guys doing here?” The copy never said a word the entire time. I explained how we were going to surprise him with a party, and he asked, “Who is paying for this?” I replied, “Your family and mother in South Carolina are free, and the other guests will pay!” He replies, “When Joe gives a party, no one pays!” My thought was, “he isn’t giving the party!” He immediately starts for the back door that his wife was standing at. She says, “Joe, where are you going?” He snaps at her, “I’ll be back when I’m back, woman!”

Getting back to Holmes, I put a show on in Easton at the high school in 1983, and seeing Mark Holmes in the parking lot, I said, “Mark, I’m putting on a show at the high school with 10% of the profits going to St. Anthony’s where you and Larry got your start. How would you like to put on an exhibition?” He was 24-0 and hadn’t fought in Easton as a pro. He replied, “I’d love to, but you have to ask Larry; he’s my manager.” I approach Larry, and he says, “I ain’t putting my brother on some rinky-dink show!

Shortly later, I watch him sparring, and he stops and walks to the ropes, points to me sitting in a chair, and snaps out, “I ought to beat the s**t out of you. Next time I tell you something, don’t go to my brother!” He was wrong, but he’s the kind of guy who would knock you down and kick you in the head!

Years later, I was at a press conference for Larry and stood up and said, “Didn’t Nick Wells stop you twice in the amateurs?” He replied, “Yes!” I then, about ten feet away, yelled, pointing at him, and said, “You don’t really think you beat Tim Witherspoon and Carl “The Truth” Williams, do you?”

His eyes got as big as silver dollars as his partner Jay Newman came to me and said, “Hey buddy, can you keep it down?” I showed him a picture of Holmes and his sparring partner Marvin Stinson with me between them. He said, “Oh, Ken, it’s you!” I replied, “You know I can’t stand this guy!” I immediately left the press conference knowing how Holmes was.

Now that I explained my meetings with four world heavyweight champions let’s get down to what would happen if Frazier and Holmes met. Frazier lost two of three to Ali. Holmes stopped Ali and was stopped by Tyson.

Frazier was 32-4-1 with 27 stoppages, a 1964 Olympic Gold Medalist though losing in the trials to Buster Mathis, but he broke a finger, so Frazier, the alternate, went to the Olympics. Holmes was 69-6 with 44 stoppages.

In 1972, Holmes lost to Wells and in a box-off to Duane Bobick by DQ for excessive holding. Bobick, in the quarter-final, was stopped by Cuba’s Teofilo Stevenson in Munich, Germany.

There you have it. Holmes had twice as many fights as Frazier and was the boxer-puncher and Frazier the puncher. So, who wins prime time to prime time?

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