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Thread: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

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    Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?
    By Kevin Kincade from Boxing Scene

    I know, I know. There’s only one “Greatest”; but let’s open our minds, get past the rhetoric, and examine the in-ring accomplishments of this often overlooked and unheralded champion. The argument of “who was the best heavyweight who has ever lived” generally falls on the shoulders of two men: Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali. But is the answer so locked in that No One can challenge it? Is it really heresy to suggest that “The Easton Assassin” not only measures up to these two titans; but, quite possibly, surpasses them?

    Is it that obscene of a question to ask? His numbers are comparable: 20 successful defenses, 7 years as world champion, 48 consecutive victories; or, to put it another way: only Joe Louis held the title longer (and he was inactive as a champion for 4 years during WWII), only Joe Louis made more title defenses (Muhammad Ali made 19 total defenses over the course of two reigns), and Holmes came within one win of tying Marciano’s record of 49-0 (and Holmes was 3 years older than Marciano when he racked up his 49th fight, while eclipsing Rocky’s defenses by 14). Folks, that’s not too shabby.

    It couldn’t have been easy to be Larry Holmes following a fistic legend. It must have felt like a being a playwright in the time of Shakespeare or a struggling American musician following the British Invasion or an actor trying out for a part alongside Robert Dinero…..an utterly un-winnable situation. No matter what you do, how impressive you look, it’s never going to be enough; you’re never going to measure up. It simply can’t be done. How do you follow a demi-god?

    Surely, Larry’s personality didn’t help matters, either. He was always at war with the press and came off as a guy with a Gibraltar-sized chip on his shoulder. “Rocky couldn’t carry my jock-strap” didn’t win Larry any fans, nor did “Mike Tyson’s going down in history as an S.O.B.” If Larry hadn’t made it as a fighter, he surely could have made a living as a contortionist, for I can think of no one as skilled as Holmes at putting both of his feet in his mouth at the same time. His pre-fight interviews made the purest scream from the very depths of his soul, “LARRY, SHUT UP AND FIGHT, ALREADY!!” I suspect if a fighter’s greatness were determined solely by his public relations skills, Larry Holmes would rank just slightly above Sonny Liston.

    That’s it, isn’t it? That’s the key. We associate the word “champion” with the concept of being a role-model. That’s why the late Floyd Patterson was so popular as a champ, even though he wasn’t one of the best to ever hold the belt. I can think of very few people who would rank Patterson in their top 10 Heavyweight Champions of all time; but those same people would readily admit that Patterson wore the crown with class. Here’s a thought: If Larry Holmes had Floyd’s personality, would we rank Holmes at the top of the heap?

    Public perception; it really does make a difference, as do our preconceived notions. It’s so hard to admit when we’re wrong, even in the face of irrefutable evidence. Of course, judging a boxer’s worth in the annals of time is a purely subjective endeavor, which is what make it so much fun…..and so nerve-racking. It wasn’t until after Larry had retired (the first time) that most people began to admit that he was “pretty good”. Larry had three strikes against him. He wasn’t highly touted as an amateur or as a young pro, he never came off in the press as the friendliest of guys, and he followed the most charismatic athlete of all time. If you throw in the fact that he used to be that athlete’s sparring partner, Larry’s strike-count climbs to four. That’s a lot of obstacles to overcome.

    Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali were both groomed to be champions, though, in truth, no one really expected young Clay to beat Liston. Maybe that’s what helped Ali climb to the top in the some of the public’s mind…his continual defiance of the odds. People love someone who can overcome seemingly impossible barriers. Ali beat both Sonny Liston, and George Foreman, and took it one step further and defeated the mighty U.S. Government. Joe Louis beat the Color Bar by becoming the first Black Heavyweight Champion in twenty-two years and, then, stepped up by destroying the Arian Race’s unwilling representative and his former conqueror, Max Schmeling, on the Eve of World War II, becoming an authentic American Hero. How can anyone compete with that?!

    Both Louis and Ali were larger than life characters in larger than life times; which greatly contributes to their lasting legacy. Poor old Larry came along at the end of one of the most turbulent eras in history and had no real dragons to slay. He had no fearsome threats like Sonny Liston or George Foreman or Nazi Germany. All he had in front of him were some pretty good fighters; but he beat them. Can anything else be asked of a fighter than to take on all comers and vanquish them? A fighter can not help when he is born or the environment of the world at the time he fights. All he can do is train hard and be the best he can be…..and Larry Holmes did just that.

    Still, while we’re on the subject, how does Larry’s competition measure up to that of Louis and Ali’s? In “The Brown Bomber’s” pre-title days he beat some pretty fierce competition in former world champions Primo Carnera, Max Baer and Jack Sharkey as well as ranking contenders King Levinsky and Paulino Uzcudun. Baer was the Foreman of his day and was just months removed from losing the world title in an upset decision to Jim Braddock when Louis bounced him three times on the way to a fourth round stoppage.

    After kayoing Braddock in eight for the title, Louis defeated more men defending his belt than any other heavyweight champion ever to own the gold. Among the victims were such notable fighters as slick Welshman Tommy Farr, former world champion Max Schmeling, Big Abe Simon, Max Baer’s younger but bigger brother Buddy, former light-heavyweight champion, slick master-boxer Billy Conn, the explosive Lou Nova, the slick and awkward Arturo Godoy, the murderous punching Tami Mauriello, and the classic cutie Jersey Joe Walcott among many, many others…25 in all. Go ahead, check the record books. They weren’t all the bum of the month.

    Ali? Well, for starters, he upset one of the most feared fighters of all time, Sonny Liston, to win the title in 1964. Then, during his first reign gained a mercy stoppage over former champ Floyd Patterson, humiliated WBA titlist Ernie Terrell, out-toughed tough man George Chuvalo, put on a dazzling display against faded puncher Cleveland Williams while stopping him inside three and kayoed Zora Folley in seven in his last defense before engaging in a three year battle with Uncle Sam. After the layoff, right out of the gate he stopped the #2 ranked fighter in the world, Jerry Quarry in three rounds on a serious cut and gave Oscar Bonavena the only knock-out defeat of his career in the fifteenth round before dropping a decision to then-champion, Joe Frazier. After the loss to Frazier, Ali beat contenders Jimmy Ellis, Buster Mathis, Mac Foster, Joe Bugner, and reigning Light Heavyweight Champion, Bob Foster among others before losing a split decision to Ken Norton.

    In his next fight, Ali returned the favor to Norton and then avenged his loss to Frazier before becoming only the second man in history to regain the heavyweight championship with a shocking eighth round knock-out over Sonny Liston’s protégé, George Foreman. Following Foreman, Ali took on all comers, like Louis, beating Frazier, Bugner, and Norton in rematches and taking on top contenders Ron Lyle, Jimmy Young, and possibly the hardest punching heavyweight who has ever lived, Earnie Shavers before losing his beloved belt in a huge upset to boxing novice, Leon Spinks. Still, he made history when he came back to decision Spinks in the Superdome and became the only man to ever win the lineal Heavyweight Championship three times.

    How does Holmes compare? Well, Larry didn’t start off his pro-career to much hoopla. It wasn’t until he faced and defeated the fearsome Shavers that the boxing public began to take him seriously. Then came his WBC Title victory over Ali’s old nemesis, Ken Norton, in a fight that could rival “The Thrilla in Manila” and Holyfield-Bowe I for most exciting heavyweight championship bout ever. No one was in their seats when the decision was announced in Holmes favor. Following his harrowing display of courage in winning the title, Larry, like Louis and Ali before him, turned no challenger away. Over the next seven years, Larry took on any fighter the promoters could throw at him and emerged victorious every time, sometimes picking himself off the canvas to do so.

    Future WBA Champion Mike Weaver had him in serious trouble in the 10th before Larry came back in the very next round to drop “Hercules” before the referee called a halt to it in the 12th. Everybody thought Larry was through when Earnie Shavers landed that big right hand in the 7th round of their rematch; but somehow, through some bottomless reservoir of heart, courage, and will, Larry got up and out lasted “Mr. Devastation”, finally stopping him in the 11th. Being World Heavyweight Champion meant everything to Larry Holmes and you could feel that every time he climbed through those ropes.

    Other notable defenses include wins over future Alphabelt Titlists, Trevor Berbick, Tim Witherspoon, and James “Bonecrusher” Smith. He also stopped former lineal champs Leon Spinks in 3 and an old Muhammad Ali was forced to retire after 10. Holmes turned away the challenges of highly ranked and undefeated contenders such as Leroy Jones, Renaldo Snips, Gerry Cooney, and Carl “The Truth” Williams; and sent the late great broadcasting legend Howard Cosell into retirement over the beating he administered to perennial tough man Randall “Tex” Cobb….okay, scratch that last one, although Cobb is comparable to Chuvalo of Ali’s reign. The point is Larry Holmes was the best of his day just as Ali was the best in his and Louis was the best in his; the men he beat made up the framework of the who’s who of the heavyweight division in the 1980’s and several carried on as threats into the ‘90’s.

    If you add all of Larry’s fallen foes together and compare them to Ali’s opponents and Louis’s 25 defenses, what you’ve got is a resume that rivals both the “Brown Bomber’s” and the “Louisville Slugger’s”. Sure, Larry had a few defenses against un-noteworthy opposition; but so did Joe and Muhammad. No champion defends against the cream of the crop exclusively without having a few “softer” touches thrown in along the way.

    Here’s a hypothetical questions: If there hadn’t been WWII, if there hadn’t been the social revolution of the 1960’s, if the playing field were equal, would Holmes be considered the best? Ali and Louis both had extraordinary circumstances surrounding their reigns, Larry just had Reaganomics. Joe Louis reigned four years longer than Larry; but he was inactive as champion for four of those years. Why isn’t Larry Holmes considered the Greatest Heavyweight of All Time, is it because Louis and Ali were better or is it because the times in which they reigned were more memorable? Think About That!

    Joe had more power, Ali had more flash and pizzazz, and both had more charisma; but Larry had just as much heart and determination as the two of them and beat almost as many men of equal quality….maybe more. This is about boxing, isn’t it? Larry Holmes was your ordinary average guy with a fire in his belly who wanted to prove to the world that he was somebody. He didn’t have Ali’s hand or foot speed or Louis’ fearsome punch; but what he did have was heart and skill and the drive to make the most out of the talent he did have, which was considerable. In the end, if you take away the extracurricular circumstances, if you take away the “We’re gonna Win because God is on Our Side,” and “No Viet Cong Ever Called Me Nigger!” and focus just on what happened inside the ring, does Larry’s reign and accomplishments really differ that much? The question is worth asking. What make them the best and him not? Really?

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    Cyber Boxing Champion
    Larry Holmes
    The Easton Assassin

    Born: November 3, 1949,
    Cuthbert, Ga.
    Pro Record: 67-6 (43 kayos)


    TALE OF THE TAPE

    Height: 6 ft. 3 1/2 in Thigh: 25 in. Forearm: 13 in.
    Waist: 35 in. (?!) Wrist: 8 in. Chest Exp: 45 1/2 in.
    Fist: 13 1/2 in. Chest: 43 1/2 in. Neck: 17 1/2 in.
    Reach: 81 in. Ankle: 10 in. Biceps: 15 1/2 in.
    DATE OPPONENT SCH. RESULT TIME LOCATION

    1973
    Mar 21 Rodell Dupree 4 W unan ---- Scranton, PA
    May 2 Art Savage 4 KO 3 1:32 Scranton, PA
    Jun 20 Curtis Whitner 4 TKO 1 2:14 Scranton, PA
    Aug 22 Don Branch 6 W unan ---- Scranton, PA
    Sep 10 Bob Bozic 6 W unan ---- New York, NY
    Nov 14 Jerry Judge 6 W unan ---- Scranton, PA
    Nov 28 Kevin Isaacs 6 KO 3 1:05 Cleveland, OH

    1974
    Apr 24 Howard Darlington 8 TKO 4 2:23 Scranton, PA
    May 29 Bob Mashburn 8 KO 7 2:38 Scranton, PA
    Dec 11 Joe Hathaway 8 KO 1 2:47 Scranton, PA

    1975
    Mar 24 Charley Green 8 KO 1 1:57 Cleveland, OH
    Apr 9 Oliver Wright 10 TKO 3 Honolulu, HI
    Apr 26 Robert Yarborough 10 KO 3 Toronto, Ont.
    May 16 Ernie Smith 10 KO 3 Las Vegas, NV
    Aug 16 Obie English 10 TKO 8 * Scranton, PA
    Aug 26 Charlie James 10 W unan ---- Honolulu, Oahu, HI
    Oct 1 Rodney Bobick 10 TKO 6 2:47 Philadelphia, PA
    Dec 9 Leon Shaw 10 KO 1 2:43 Washington, D.C.
    Dec 20 Billy Joiner 10 KO 3 2:29 San Juan, PR

    1976
    Jan 29 Joe Gholston 10 TKO 8 2:38 Easton, PA
    Apr 5 Fred Ashew 10 TKO 2 2:18 Landover, MD
    Apr 30 Roy Williams 10 W unan ---- Landover, MD

    1977
    Jan 16 Tom Prater 8 W unan ---- Pensacola, FL
    (U.S. Championship Tournament)
    Mar 17 H. Robinson 10 TKO 6 * Hato Rey, PR
    Sep 14 Fred Houpe 10 TKO 7 0:41 Las Vegas, NV
    Nov 5 Ibar Arrington 10 TKO 10 1:38 Las Vegas, NV

    1978
    Mar 25 Earnie Shavers 12 W unan ---- Las Vegas, NV
    Jun 9 Ken Norton 15 W split ---- Las Vegas, NV
    (Won WBC Heavyweight Title)

    Nov 10 Alfredo Evangelista 15 KO 7 2:14 Las Vegas, NV
    (Retained WBC Heavyweight Title)

    1979
    Feb 2 Wendall Baily Exh 2 Allentown, PA
    Feb 2 Jodie Ballard Exh 2 Alentown, PA
    Mar 23 Osvaldo Ocasio 15 TKO 7 2:38 Las Vegas, NV
    (Retained WBC Heavyweight Title)
    June 22 Mike Weaver 15 TKO 12 0:44 New York, NY
    (Retained WBC Heavyweight Title)
    Sep 28 Earnie Shavers 15 TKO 11 2:00 Las Vegas, NV
    (Retained WBC Heavyweight Title)

    1980
    Feb 3 Lorenzo Zanon 15 TKO 6 2:39 Las Vegas, NV
    (Retained WBC Heavyweight Title)
    Mar 31 Leroy Jones 15 TKO 8 2:56 Las Vegas, NV
    (Retained WBC Heavyweight Title)
    Jul 7 Scott LeDoux 15 TKO 7 2:05 Minneapolis, MN
    (Retained WBC Heavyweight Title)
    Oct 2 Muhammad Ali 15 TKO 11 * Las Vegas, NV
    (Won World Heavyweight Title)

    1981
    Apr 11 Trevor Berbick 15 W unan ---- Las Vegas, NV
    (Retained World Heavyweight Title)
    Jun 12 Leon Spinks 15 TKO 3 2:34 Detroit, MI
    (Retained World Heavyweight Title)
    Nov 6 Renaldo Snipes 15 TKO 11 1:05 Pittsburgh, PA
    (Retained World Heavyweight Title)

    1982
    Jun 11 Gerry Cooney 15 TKO 13 2:52 Las Vegas, NV
    (Retained World Heavyweight Title)
    Nov. 26 Tex Cobb 15 W unan ---- Houston, TX
    (Retained World Heavyweight Title)

    1983
    Mar. 27 Lucien Rodriguez 12 W unan ---- Scranton, PA
    (Retained World Heavyweight Title)
    May 20 Tim Witherspoon 12 W split ---- Las Vegas, NV
    (Retained World Heavyweight Title)
    Sept. 10 Scott Frank 12 TKO 5 1:28 Atlantic City, NJ
    (Retained World Heavyweight Title)
    Nov. 25 Marvis Frazier 12 TKO 1 2:57 Las Vegas, NV
    (Retained World Heavyweight Title)

    1984
    Nov 9 James Smith 15 TKO 12 2:10 Las Vegas, NV
    (Retained World Heavyweight Title)

    1985
    Mar 15 David Bey 15 TKO 10 2:58 Las Vegas, NV
    (Retained World Heavyweight Title)
    May 20 Carl Williams 15 W unan ---- Reno, NV
    (Retained World Heavyweight Title)
    Sep 21 Michael Spinks 15 L unan ---- Las Vegas, NV
    (Lost World Heavyweight Title)

    1986
    Apr 19 Michael Spinks 15 L split ---- Las Vegas, NV
    (For World Heavyweight Title)

    1988
    Jan 22 Mike Tyson 12 TKO by 4 2:55 Atlantic City, NJ
    (For WBC Heavyweight Title)

    1991
    Apr. 7 Tim Anderson 10 TKO 1 2:03 Hollywood, FL
    Aug. 13 Eddie Gonzales 10 W unan ---- Tampa, FL
    Aug. 24 Michael Greer 10 KO 4 1:18 Honolulu, HI
    Sept. 17 Art Card 10 W unan ---- Orlando, FL
    Nov. 12 Jamie Howe 10 TKO 1 1:57 Jacksonville, FL
    Feb. 7 Ray Mercer 12 W unan ---- Atlantic City, NJ
    June 19 Evander Holyfield 12 L unan ---- NV
    (For World Heavyweight Title)
    1993
    5 Jan Everett Martin MS W10
    9 Mar Rocky Pepeli MS KO5
    13 Apr Ken Lakusta MS KO7
    18 May Paul Poirier MS KO6
    28 Sep Jose Ribalta Bay St. Louis, MS W10

    1994
    8 Mar Garing Lane Ledyard, CT W10
    9 Aug Jesse Ferguson MN W10

    1995
    Apr 8 Oliver McCall Las Vegas, NV L12 unan
    (For WBC Heavyweight Title)
    19 Sep Ed Donaldson Bay St. Louis, MS W10

    1996
    9 Jan Curtis Shepard TX KO4
    16 Apr Quinn Navarre Bay St. Louis, MS W10
    16 Jun Anthony Willis Biloxi, MS KO8 1:04 Report

    1997
    24 Jan Brian Nielsen Denmark L12
    29 Jul Maurice Harris New York, NY W12

    1999
    Jun 18 James Smith Fayetteville, NC KO 8

    *Failed to answer bell for round indicated.

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    Of course, there are personal prejudices to be factored in with all of us, but for me the fact that Larry appeared content to sit back and feast on an endless string of somewhat forgettable challengers provided by King, seemingly giving no thought to being the ONLY heavyweight champion of the world, while Ali sought out anyone even remotely encrouching on "his" territory makes for a big difference between the two. Can you envision Ali consenting to have Terrell as "co-champion" any longer than it took to make the match and hype it? Did he think twice (at least to public perception) in going after a monster like Foreman even though he had to know he was past his best? In contrast, Holmes gave up one of his claims to the title and moved to a new, almost unrecognized commission seemingly without a qualm. Ali wanted to be IT, THE Champ. Holmes wanted his money.

    Also, I think that in general Ali faced a higher level of opponents in his best matches (again personal prejudices making themselves known). I doubt that Holmes would have beaten the Frazier of the first Ali fight. I have questions as to whether he could have handled the best Foreman (even though I understand that current wisdom says George was "made for Larry"); watch Foreman in the second Frazier fight effectively employ his great reach, strength, surprising handspeed (for such a Sasquatch-like physique, anyway), and straight punches. I think that was Big George at his best and a guy who would have crushed Young, worn down an aging Ali, and quite possibly trapped and killed (metaphorically speaking, naturally) a Larry Holmes who didn't like to have a hard jab coming back at him. Unfortunately for Foreman fans, George also thought he was the big noise and didn't keep that edge for very long. I wonder if Larry could have dealt with even an older Liston the way Ali did, though I can see it in my mind's eye. We know how close a nearly out of the game Norton came to beating a young and fresh Holmes (my Dad always swore that Kenny won that), and an older Ali's two wins against Norton were "debatable" (I though Muhammad clearly lost the third), so perhaps this is one for Larry?

    Larry at his best would have been a close thing for any champion of any era, but there was a gap between him and Ali, their actual meeting not withstanding, in skills, desire, and chin, I think.

    Holmes-Louis? I realize that "Conn" will be the first word out of a lot of folks' mouths, and it's a valid point -- Joe DID have trouble with boxers. But he caught almost all of them, and if he caught Holmes just once the way that Shavers and Tyson did (or even Weaver), I can see it ending before Larry could mount a comeback. Record-wise, Holmes probably gets the nod, since he wasn't beholding to the color line the way Joe was, but man to man, I'll pick Louis. Maybe that's my heart talking a little louder than my head. PeteLeo.

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    This will probably cost me

    But this is Larry we are talking about and I GOTS to come to his side here!

    In Larry's defense re unifications: He was on path to unify with John Tate, when Tate was upset by Weaver, whom Holmes had already beaten.

    Weaver, was for year tied up in legal red tape with his managers and promoters, which is the main reason he defended so few times. He had a scheduled bout with Tex Cobb that failed to come off at least twice and there was a time when he was commited to have fought Cooney, whihc ALSO fell apart.

    Larry could not sit around and wait for Weaver's issues to sort out.

    King was never going to allow Dokes to fight Holmes as he had what he thought was two cash cows.

    When Coetzee beat Dokes, Holmes had signed to face Coetzee in a bout that fell apart becuase the Promoter's who was putting it together had financail issues and it was ultimately scrapped. Holmes had given up the WBC crown beucase of money issues with King (trying to short change him for the Page bout, who was a manadatory for 9 mos when Larry was offered more to defend against, each, Frazier and Frank.)

    Witherspoon, Larry did already beat, but he in turn, becuase he couldn't keep focused, lost his belt in his first defense.

    Thomas barked out for Larry at the end of Holmes' reign. But then agian, Pinklon, wasted his reign with inactivity and made a whopping one defense before being upset by Berbick, shortly after an aging Holmes was upset when he was out sped by Spinks. Holmes did win the rematch clearly IMO.

    The Politics of the game were a bit different than Ali's time. And the doughboy and/or roundrobin titleists that coidncided with Larry's reign clearly was unacceptable and even King realized this by the time Tyson came along and the interests of everyone was that a single titleist was better for the game.

    Obviously today due to ineptitude of the current titlests, that we are in need of that thinking again, even though I'm not convinced a single marginal titlest will rescue the doldrums of this division.

    Holmes IMO was a great Champion and a top 5 all time Heavy. The division would do very well to get another Chanmp like Larry to come along. The sport as well.

    Hawk

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    Forget about who he did and did not fight post Cooney because it is not relevant...he was already near 33 and using the title as a device to milk money on a risk reward basis...like almost every other champ...

    It's hard to say anyone was better than Ali ... Larry's hand speed was really just as good, Larry's jab better. Larry had an excellent chin but Ali's was perhaps a grade better. The young Holmes' had great leg speed but no one beats Ali there. Both had tremendous hearts, no edge there. As far as power goes, I think Holmes hit harder ...strength edge went to Ali...overall toughness, the ability to give and take in a gut wrentching fight has to edge to Ali simply because he did it many times although a hurt Holmes did it against Norton and later as a older fighter against a young Witherspoon.

    Ali definately fought better opposition, however he fought better opposition than just about anyone. I have little problem picking Holmes over Liston or Foreman based on his speed , jab and movement...a 1971 Frazier would have been a murderous fight for almost anyone other than a Foreman.

    I'd say a prime Holmes loses a very close decision, razor thin, to the Ali of 67 but beats any post exile Ali by decision. Let's face it, be beat his ass in the gym from 73 to 75 all the time. I'd say he decisions Louis because Louis simply followed boxers and could not catch him. I've studied Joe a hell of a lot and feel he had exceptional offensive skills. I feel he would have had no problem murdering the bigger men who followed like a Foreman or a Lewis. I simply think he would not catch a 6'3" guy like Holmes with an exceptional jab in his face. Although PETELEO has a point when he says Louis was one right hand away from anyone and his was a lot more than a basic punchers chance...

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    Three Larry Holmes fans in a row, make it four. I am sure the law of averages will kick in and the bashers will come out. I have a general rule: if Ali beats them, Holmes most likely will as well (two exceptions are Foreman and Frazier
    but both are definatly winnable fights for Holmes- and I have no argument with someone picking Holmes over Foreman). Like Robinson-Leonard, I'd call Holmes "Ali Lite", since Ali's just a little better in everything (speed, chin, strength, ect), but Holmes is way better fundamentaly (Holmes also will attack the body and can lead if he has to; two things Ali doesn't have a clue on). Fundementle skills are probably what allowed Holmes, Moore, McCallum, Toney, and Hopkins to last so long, while athletic fighters like Jones are done once they lose their legs (Ali's an exception because of his chin, and mentle toughness).

    A Holmes-Ali fight would be an eyesore, one thing I'd bet on is the OVER, because it's definatly going 15 rounds. Now, IF (a big if), Holmes can force Ali to lead, like Jimmy Young did, Ali's like a fish out of water . I know Ali was old fat, and out of shape for Young, but Young did expose him. Obviously the "67" Ali easily beats Young (although Young, Chris Byrd, and Michael Spinks will always make Ali look bad), but I think the 67 Ali would have his hands full with Holmes. Still, I see Larry eventually coming to Ali, and he'll lose because of it. Holmes-Louis. I'd take Larry 7 out of 10 ,with Joe KO'ing him in the other 3 (Joe isn't winning a decision against Ali or Holmes). Louis is NOT a two-handed Frazier, he's slow and methodical, plus he's more upright than Frazier, which means the sharpshooters will nail him. The big difference is that against Frazier, Ali/Holmes, either have to move, throw punches or go to the ropes, which expends energy. both would fade down the stretch and eventually would have to fight Frazier toe to toe. I know Ali can, but can Larry ? Against Louis, Holmes can rest, and move away and wait for Louis to re-set. Holmes' shots may not badley hurt Louis, but they will do damage (Louis like Frazier "puffs up" rather than being cut). Plus I think he'd out jab Louis, which is what Louis' games based on.

    I know everyone will bring up Holmes' supposed vulnerability to the right hand , if you throw that many jabs, the law of averages will ebventually get you. Although Holmes usually got nailed with an occasional overhand right, while Louis throws a straight right. Thing is, everyone blasts Holmes for getting dropped by Shavers. They never mention the first fight where Holmes pitched a shut out, instead they base everything off of the one round against Shavers. You could use that round as a positive for Holmes. Holmes walked right into a bomb from arguably the hardest hitter ever. He still had the guts to get off the deck and not only last the round, but easily win the next round. They also bring up Snipes' lottery punch, but Larry was coasting against a stiff and got nailed. Holmes way underestimated Weaver and was way out of shape for that match, but he showed the guts to suck it up and win. Witherspoon, had a shit load of talant, and Norton has a favorable style.

    No one ever brings up Louis' chin (nor should they), but he was down about 10X in his career. I know Louis' chin doesn't compare to Ali's, not that it would matter in a Holmes-Ali match, but still, i could make a case against Louis' chin. Jack Dempsey did, while Louis was champion. One of those compliments like "he's good, but ..." Most ex-champs and all time greats are usually jealous of contemporary fighters, no matter what era (Gene Tunney said that Jack would KO Louis in one round- of coarse the better Dempsey looks historically, the better Tunney looks). I realize that most of Louis' knockdowns were flash knockdowns and when you have 25 title defenses you are bound to have some stinkers, especially when you are defending against stiffs, which a lot of Louis' contenders were. But still, everyone jumps on Holmes' off nights, or when he got dropped, but never look at Louis' .Probably because one is a legend and the other was a recent fighter. And one always conducted himself as a gentlemen in public, while the other could be an ass at times (of coarse in private it's a different story as the legend was a drug addict -but that's another story)

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    He

    I couldn't agree more with your synopsis of Larry here.

    Solid stuff.

    I was able to view your Piece on Holmes that you did a few years back, simply an excellent doc. Thoroughly enoyed it.

    Hawk

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    I would not call Holmes Ali light...there was nothing light about Holmes...he was his own man ...as I wrote earlier, I do not feel Ali did everything a bit better...I feel Holmes had a better jab, a harder right, was just as mentally tough and had just as big a heart.

    Holmes was a great, great fighter, an all time top five in my opinion...

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    I'm a big Larry guy. He was good enough to declare that you would have to be an Ali or Louis to beat him on his best day. Good enough for me. Holmes had another quality; he could war. When Ali was in with guys his style couldn't maul, fights could get boring quick. He was in great fights, but most Ali fights aren't very good. Louis also was often not in good fights though he was personally exciting. Larry probably had more wars than any champ ever. Ali has a handful of fights that are worth watching ad infinitum:
    Frazier I & III
    Foreman
    Listion I
    All three of his fights with Norton bore me silly.
    Louis has a great KO reel period.
    Larry though had the most fights that one can watch over and over and be awed for overall action quality:
    Norton
    Shavers II
    Weaver
    Witherspoon
    Williams
    Cooney
    Snipes
    Spinks II
    Mercer
    All great, exciting fights that were compettive and not just "Wow, look at that athletic skill" or "Damn, Louis shook that kid." It's a reason to love Larry. Only Holyfield and Marciano had the same kind of jaw droppingly good two way fights and I don't think anyone thinks with their head (excluding emotion), best for best, either beats Larry.

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    Let me ask a question: Who else would have gotten up from the right hand Shavers landed in rd 7 of the second Holmes fight? The reason I ask is that Larry said it was far and away the hardest he was ever hit...to this day he still gets flashbacks from it...Steve Farhood and many others said it was the hardest right hand they had ever seen landed. It was Earnie Shavers , full force, flush dead on.

    My answer is not many ... what's yours?

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    I wasn't knocking Holmes by labling him "Ali Lite" it was a compliment. And ,OBVIOUSLY, it was more of a figure of speech to say that Ali did everything a little better. Certainly, not everything. Although I'd argue about power (we're not talking comparing Shavers to Foreman), neither are heavy handed but they are accurate as hell. I think Ali in his 71 fight with Frazier, really nailed Frazier with some nasty punches, that would have taken out the vast majority of heavyweights, but Frazier in New York, like Duran in Montreal, refused to be denied. Jab ? I'd argue that Ali's is a little faster, but I have no problem with someone saying that Holmes' jab is better. Hand speed ? I'd give the edge to Ali. both Holmes and Ali predominantly through Jab's and straight rights, so naturally the "hookers" like Patterson, Tyson, and even Dokes look faster than Ali and Holmes (as does Joe Louis), but are they ? Foot speed, I'd obviously favor Ali. Chin ? Larry has a hell of a chin ( a Holmes fan could argue that Larry's chin withstood the hardest hitting righthander in Shavers along with the hardest hitting left hander in Cooney-not a stretch), but I think ali has the edge here-especially when he was getting nailed as an old man. Look how many times Shavers nailed the old Ali with his right hand- if he nails Holmes with that many, I think Larry's a goner (of coarse Larry's not going to get nailed with THAT many). Body-not even close, Ali takes it better to the body than probably any fighter. Physical strength ? Huge advantage to Ali.

    Hey, i rate Holmes #3 all time, behind Ali and Foreman- but I have huge questions about Foreman, and waver on who should be #2. In fact 2-5 are a tossup (Foreman, Holmes, Liston, Joe Louis), i wouldn't be shocked if Louis at #5 KO'ed Foreman (I wouldn't be shocked the other way either).

    The difference between Ali and Holmes ? In my opinion, Holmes loses to the Zaire Foreman and the 71 Frazier. I think that George will cut the ring off, and if not Larry's going to fade by using up energy by moving. I realize that Larry hits hard enough and is to accurate for George to simply walk through, but George's physical strength and pressure is eventually going to force Larry to stand and fight him (George has a way of bringing opponents down to his level-a brawl) and I don't think Larry's strong enough to keep him off (plus if Larry's moving he's not going to have the power in his punches to keep that monster off him). But if Larry gets to the 7th ropund he'll probably win. I have no problem with someone picking Holmes in that fight. No question if Foreman's fighting at a measured pace like he did against Young, he's dead (unless he gets really lucky), because all Clancy made george into was a bigger version of Lyle and Shavers, with a jab, but he's not out jabbing Holmes.

    I'd pick Frazier as well over Larry. Joe has a huge style advantage in this one (as did Norton and Witherspoon). No doubt Larry's going to have a big lead, but Joe is going to wear him down (plus the refs are more likely to allow Ali to hold against Joe than they'd let Larry), eventually Larry has to come off his toes and stand in there with Joe, that's where I think he is more likely to fade than Ali would (not as strong). I know Larry's got a hell of an uppercut, that he used against swarmers (more to raise them up out of their crouch than a homerun shot), but Joes' going to have Larry backing up, so how much is he going to have into it. I've heard it a thousand times on this site "Joe's a one punch, one armed, fighter, and it's easy to block his left hook (he has a two way go with his hook, body and head, plus he has an underated right hand to the body-dropped Quarry with it), that's what all of the fighters (and trainers) thought before they fought Joe. Easier said than done.

    Interesting, you'd be argueing with me, who rates Holmes #2 or 3 all time, but not with Roberto Aqui, who basically thinks Holmes sucks ?
    Last edited by The Shoemaker; 06-17-2006 at 01:55 PM.

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    As far as Holmes getting up from Shaver's right (not sure who the question is directed to); not many. Thing is, Larry didn't see it, and leaned into it. Some would compare Ali getting off the deck against Frazier (Joe left his feet to throw that punch). The most shocked person was Mercante, who said he was expecting to see Ali either out or struggling to get up. Instead when Mercante turned his back after escourting Frazier to his corner, Ali was standing. Poor Larry, still can't escape Ali's shadow. That's probably what still drives him nuts today. He missed his chance at the glory of the 70's, by missing matches against Ali, Frazier, and Foreman (he still wants to fight Foreman today, as if that would settle any debates) at least he's not as miserable and jealous of Ali as he once was. He can blame King for holding him back as much as he wants (not sure if Larry's body was as deveolped in the mid 70's as it was by the late 70's) but ultimatly, Larry needs to look in a mirror in regards to his slow career.

    Actually, I almost forgot. Although not a heavyweight, I can't believe Saad got up from that bomb that Richie Kates nearly took his head off with. Unlike Holmes and Ali, Saad walked right into that shot.

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    Shoe: I'm not arguing with you at all...just keeping an interesting thread open..

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?


    Absolutely not.

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    Well, that's pretty succinct. PeteLeo.

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    I think Holmes has a good argument to be recognised as perhaps the best heavyweight champion of all time... personally I'd rate him just behind Ali... but I'd pick Holmes over Johnson and Louis. If you look at Holmes opposition clearly the only other champion that fought better opposition was Ali himself... I can never understand anyone who can knock Larrys opposition... to anyone who does I say look at the opposition of Louis and Dempsey, Marcinao and indeed Johnson!!... indeed!... nuff said, me thinks!

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    IMO Larry was the best heavyweight of my lifetime maybe besides Ali.I say maybe because I cannot comment on the Ali prime years of the 60's because I never lived it.I cannot comment on how Joe Louis or Rocky Marciano would have fared either.I watched Ali beginning in 1972 and the 1st ken Norton fight.As a matter of fact I say the prime Larry of 78-82 beats the Ali after his return from the draft controversy.I say Larry negates the Ali jab with his own.Didn't Eddie Futch used to say negating the Ali jab was the key to giving Ali alot of trouble?IIRC Ken Norton would fire a jab right back at Ali as soon as he saw one coming.I thought I read that Futch taught Norton that.
    Anyway speaking about the remarkable recovery powers Holmes posesses,don't forget that Renaldo Snipes nailed Larry with a terrific overhand right and Larry recovered.I do wonder however if Larry had fallen facefirst into the mat instead of the turnbuckle for support after arising from that knockdown,that Snipes would have won by KO.
    Bottom line is I suspect Larry would have greatly troubled and maybe defeated ANY heavyweight in any era.He was that good.

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    Quote Originally Posted by OMG65
    IMO Larry was the best heavyweight of my lifetime maybe besides Ali.I say maybe because I cannot comment on the Ali prime years of the 60's because I never lived it.I cannot comment on how Joe Louis or Rocky Marciano would have fared either.I watched Ali beginning in 1972 and the 1st ken Norton fight.As a matter of fact I say the prime Larry of 78-82 beats the Ali after his return from the draft controversy.I say Larry negates the Ali jab with his own.Didn't Eddie Futch used to say negating the Ali jab was the key to giving Ali alot of trouble?IIRC Ken Norton would fire a jab right back at Ali as soon as he saw one coming.I thought I read that Futch taught Norton that.
    Anyway speaking about the remarkable recovery powers Holmes posesses,don't forget that Renaldo Snipes nailed Larry with a terrific overhand right and Larry recovered.I do wonder however if Larry had fallen facefirst into the mat instead of the turnbuckle for support after arising from that knockdown,that Snipes would have won by KO.
    Bottom line is I suspect Larry would have greatly troubled and maybe defeated ANY heavyweight in any era.He was that good.
    I agree generally... regarding Holmes against the Ali post 1970 I think Holmes would have been an extremely tough fight for Ali after 1975... though Ali may well have found a way to eke out a win... this was after all Ali's greatest gift in the 70s, the ability to beat fighters that were now physically superior to him. Prime against Prime Holmes is probably a better boxer technically than Ali... he didnt take the risks and make the 'mistakes' that Ali did, he also carried a heavier punch I think... but at his real prime Ali had the edge in speed and I think a slightly better chin... also we never really saw Ali at his real prime due to the exile... during which time I think he would have been a mixture of the late 60s and early 70s Ali... still with the speed but physically stronger. All in all I rate Ali number one but Homes would have the best shout of all the other champions to beat him in his prime... it would almost be like fighting a mirror image of himself....

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    Quote Originally Posted by OMG65
    IMO Larry was the best heavyweight of my lifetime maybe besides Ali.I say maybe because I cannot comment on the Ali prime years of the 60's because I never lived it.I cannot comment on how Joe Louis or Rocky Marciano would have fared either.I watched Ali beginning in 1972 and the 1st ken Norton fight.As a matter of fact I say the prime Larry of 78-82 beats the Ali after his return from the draft controversy.I say Larry negates the Ali jab with his own.Didn't Eddie Futch used to say negating the Ali jab was the key to giving Ali alot of trouble?IIRC Ken Norton would fire a jab right back at Ali as soon as he saw one coming.I thought I read that Futch taught Norton that.
    Anyway speaking about the remarkable recovery powers Holmes posesses,don't forget that Renaldo Snipes nailed Larry with a terrific overhand right and Larry recovered.I do wonder however if Larry had fallen facefirst into the mat instead of the turnbuckle for support after arising from that knockdown,that Snipes would have won by KO.
    Bottom line is I suspect Larry would have greatly troubled and maybe defeated ANY heavyweight in any era.He was that good.
    I agree generally... regarding Holmes against the Ali post 1970 I think Holmes would have been an extremely tough fight for Ali after 1975... though Ali may well have found a way to eke out a win... this was after all Ali's greatest gift in the 70s, the ability to beat fighters that were now physically superior to him. Prime against Prime Holmes is probably a better boxer technically than Ali... he didnt take the risks and make the 'mistakes' that Ali did, he also carried a heavier punch I think... but at his real prime Ali had the edge in speed and I think a slightly better chin... also we never really saw Ali at his real prime due to the exile... during which time I think he would have been a mixture of the late 60s and early 70s Ali... still with the speed but physically stronger. All in all I rate Ali number one but Homes would have the best shout of all the other champions to beat him in his prime... it would almost be like fighting a mirror image of himself....

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    Too bad Rocky Marciano wasnt in his prime when Larry was and Larry goes and makes that comment about the strap. There would be no discussion about Larry being the greatest......

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    Quote Originally Posted by rocky111
    Too bad Rocky Marciano wasnt in his prime when Larry was and Larry goes and makes that comment about the strap. There would be no discussion about Larry being the greatest......
    You really think so??... look at their records, Holmes fought a far higher level of competition than Marcinao did and made 20+ defences of the title... as a fighter and a world champion Larry was in a higher league than Rocky... that is the plain truth imo... He would have taken Marciano apart had they fought!.... this isnt to say that Rocky wasnt a great fighter, but he wasnt the invincible fighting machine that he is often made out to be, his 49-0 was as much to great matchmaking as great ability. As for the Jockstrap remark it was made out of frustration as certain people were saying that they didnt want Holmes to beat Marcinaos record... this coming after the way Holmes was treated in the run up to the Cooney bout!... any wonder that he ended up rather bitter.....

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    IMO, Holmes is absolutely in the conversation. I think the 4 greatest were Dempsey, Louis, Ali and Holmes. Any order you come up with among those 4 works for me-- including an order starting with Holmes at no. 1.

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    yo eric,

    we already had a little dialog about holmes in the past... but i was just curious if you think ken norton, mike weaver, tim witherspoon, carl williams, would have caused johnson or jeffries that much trouble.

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    I don't believe I've ever heard Holmes lay claim to being the greatest.

    His best performances were against Cooney, Norton, and Shavers. Two men somewhat past their best days and one man not truly ready for Holmes. Cooney had talent and natural power, but had not been developed into a championship caliber fighter when he was matched with Holmes, imo. I'm not suggesting that lesser guys never fought for the title, only that Cooney should have had a few more fights against better fighters under his belt to ready him for a go at Holmes. Even if he had that additional seasoning, I would have favored Holmes in that fight.

    But Larry's other title fights were against some less than stellar "contenders". e.g. Leroy Green, David Bey, Ocasio, LeDoux, etc.

    He showed some grit against Weaver, was pressed hard against Witherspoon and Williams, and was floored by Snipes. Larry may be a bit under appreciated, both then and now, but I can't see a claim to the greatest claasification.

    Imagine the posts the CBZ would have when Larry made the jockstrap remark had it been in existence.

    How do we know "he beat Ali's ass in the gym"?

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Maclaurin
    yo eric,

    we already had a little dialog about holmes in the past... but i was just curious if you think ken norton, mike weaver, tim witherspoon, carl williams, would have caused johnson or jeffries that much trouble.
    Welll, depends what you mean by "trouble," I guess. Do I think any of those men could have beaten either Jack Johnson or Jim Jeffries? No, though Norton would have had a good chance against Johnson, due to styles.

    And Williams's mobility would have caused Jeffries some trouble, I think. Bad style match up/ for the Boilermaker.

    'Spoon, at this best (which he was for Holmes), would have been a tough night's work for either man -- and don't forget that Holmes was clearly past his prime when he fought Terrible Tim.

    Conversely, can you imagine Joe Choynski giving Holmes even a moment's pause? He drew with Jeffries and flattened Johnson, recall.

    And, to be clear, I have extremely an high opinion of both Jeffries and Johnson. I don't think either would have beaten Holmes, but I certainly concede that it's a point with respect to which reasonable minds could differ.
    Last edited by Mr E; 06-19-2006 at 05:04 PM.

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    The high ranking of Jeffries with such certainty amazes me...he only beat one top heavyweight in his career that was in his prime and that was the 185 pound Sharkey. There is so little film of him....Corbett was old, Fitz and Choynski were middleweights ..

    I personally believe that Paul Bunyon was the best...this is on only a slightly biggger leap than Jeffries...

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    I don't have Jeffries high on my list. Corbett was kicking his ass before he ran out of gas. Now back to Larry. We have to look at the era in which they fought. Holmes fought good fighter but not great. Not a Liston,Foreman, or Frazier in the bunch. What made Ali great was not only his speed. His ring smarts, his chin and heart. And his willingness to walk through fire. One can only be great by beating other greats. I have Holmes in my top 5. but not #1.

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    Mr Big,
    I think you are penalizing Holmes for something that he had no control over; in regards to competition. He fought the best that was available and that's all you can ask (I can't think of anyone that he blatenley ducked, that could have beaten him in his prime). What great fighters did Sonny Liston beat ? (Cleveland Williams ?), Joe Louis (Schmelling in 38 ?), Jack Dempsey (Jack Sharkey ?), Mike Tyson (Toney Tucker ?).

    Certainly, fighting AND DEFEATING a great fighter, helps, but fights between all-time greats, when both are in their primes are rare. I think you simply have to make a projection based on what you see and go with it. Anyone can see that Holmes has a piston for a jab, and since the jab is the most important punch in boxing (for most fighters), you know Holmes is going to win fights just on that. You can also tell that Holmes has a chin (Shavers and Cooney), was mentally tough, fundementally sound, could beat you many ways, accurate, and on and on.

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    Quote Originally Posted by HE Grant
    The high ranking of Jeffries with such certainty amazes me...he only beat one top heavyweight in his career that was in his prime and that was the 185 pound Sharkey. There is so little film of him....Corbett was old, Fitz and Choynski were middleweights ..

    I personally believe that Paul Bunyon was the best...this is on only a slightly biggger leap than Jeffries...
    Oh, I don't know. Jeffries bounced Hank Griffin around like a basketball -- the same Hank Griffin who went undeafeated in 3 fights against Jack Johnson the very next year. Fitz, like Jersey Joe Walcott, seems to have been better as a light-heavyweight in his 30s than he was as a middleweight in his 20s, and he was an all-time great, in a pound-for-pound sense, according to pretty much everyone. You could argue that Jeffries had less trouble with him than Joe Louis did with a similarly-sized Billy Conn. As for Corbett's being over-the-hill, that's a little hard to tell. He was 34, that's true, but most eye-witness accounts credit him with being better on that night than at any other time in his career. Thus, the blind assumption that Jeffries beat a 'diminished' version of Corbett may not be justified.

    That said, however, I still like the Easton Assassin, who I believe is very severely under-rated by the boxing community. A great great heavyweight with the brains and the heart to match his considerable physical gifts.

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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    inadvertent double post
    Last edited by Mr E; 06-20-2006 at 01:33 PM.

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