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

  1. #181
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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    I think I can prove that using the dominance criteria, there were only 4 all-time great heavyweight champions. I also think I can eliminate 2 of those...and further come up with only one.


    Louis never fought several "top contenders" by the rationale extended here as a critique of Holmes.

    In fact, the only heavyweight who basically fought everyone was Ali. His failures to rematch usually involve not extending an invite to a 3rd or 4th fight.

    Larry Holmes indeed never faced several guys who one time or another emerged as the 'class' of the division. I may also agree that Larry's title fight comp as a whole was fairly ordinary...but not divergently so from most other champions. I don't think however being the only guy who can claim a title even means you are anything but better than rest in that specific moment in history.

    I guess only 6 (7) men could be considered all-timers then: Sullivan*, Louis, Marciano, Liston, Frazier, Foreman, Ali (twice). Only these 6 were champions, having eliminated all top opposition (even if for a brief period..Jack Johnson never rematched Langford and avoided black heavies while defending his crown).

    BUT Marciano and Louis and Liston may be excluded since they didn't win their title from a clear top-dog. Liston dominated, but nefore he was champ. After that, he beat Patterson and lost to Ali. He never faced bookends like Frazier for example. As for Rocky, sure Marciano beat Louis, but he was crispy..Walcott was also not clearly the top man even though he beat Ez twice (kinda). Plus Rocky didn't fight every possible top guy, or even most of them...if Holmes didn't. Maybe not as many were avoided..but he did avoid some. And to reiterate...Liston's reign was poor. End of story.

    Jeffries is not on this list because he beat 168lb Fitzsimmons and proceeded to get out of the game after some stressful defenses against retreads. Sullivan* is here initially, because he indeed was universally regarded as without peer..and faced everyone save Pete Jackson who was not present throughout Sullivan's reign. Thus John L. WAS dominant. Sullivan must however be removed because he won the title from a hack named Paddy Ryan...making his win of the "title" questionable..despite his clearing out of all-comers. Back to Jeff, so we are clear as to why he is not ATG and dominant: he defended against Corbett, Fitz, Sharkey and some blobs...then he retired early..with Langford and Johnson et al hanging out. Without undeniably beating every truly serious challenger.

    So then, we are left with: Ali, Frazier, Foreman. Ali won from clear best Liston. Frazier won from clear best Ali. Foreman from Frazier, Ali from Foreman. All defended the title sucessfully, won from an established unquestioned best in the division, and stamped a mark of clear dominance. this narrows down the list of dominance further..making it palatable for those who don't like grey areas.

    This leaves us again with only: Frazier, Foreman and Ali. Louis never faced Bivins, Ray and assorted others. He ranks with Burns then: lots of defenses, but not a perfect record of facing the best each time out..or even handling all of the top contenders. Never mind the title length, he didn't have to rematch Simon, did he? Someone existed during his reign that in retrospect, was a clear legit title threat.

    So we have 3 ATG's. Frazier, Foreman and Ali. No real question marks on who they never faced when they were at their best. Frazier never fought Lyle et al, but he was pretty much done by then anyway.

    Maybe that leaves us with only Ali and Foreman. Throw Foreman out because due to Ali, he didnt dominate his own dominant time more than Ali did.

    After Larry..we have Tyson? He never faced Witherspoon.. a clear top contender. Sure he unified..but after beating Spinks..did he ever rematch Tucker? I suppose Tyson may be an entry into the category above...but it is not as clear as even Frazier's claim; as Spinks was not himself the distinct best fighter in the division. Tyson never having actually won the title from an even fairly dominant fighter hurts him. Plus losing in prime to Douglas, and avoiding all the guys like Rahman, Sanders, Mercer, Bowe, Moorer etc.

    Larry Holmes for his part didn't dominate to the tune of others like Louis and Marciano only in that other guys were allowed to claim to also be the champion, whereas Rocky and Joe never had to endure such. Theoretically, Liston was the last true champ..even Ali having to "share" the title repeatedly throughout his career. Larry never faced a reigning imposter in a 'unification'...whereas Ali did in Terrell, Frazier. This disqualifies Larry.

    Semantics will make the position of claiming Larry was never dominant one that can be defended by keeping the definition of dominant self-fulfilling. Larry didn't dominate the way Ali and Foreman and Louis did. He also didn't unify like Tyson, Ali, Frazier and Lewis and Holyfield.

    IF we use the dominate thingy: Ali and Foreman by my reckoing are the only heavyweights that faced everyone considered to be a rival and defeated them at some point in their primes and reigns. Foreman beat Norton, Frazier..followed his loss to Ali with Lyle..had beaten Chuvalo AND was undisputed champion unlike Holmes.

    Maybe Foreman is eliminated because he lost to a declined Ali in prime. So, we have only one all-time heavyweight in Ali.

    ----------

    Suppose the tactic however was title reign. And the mark was length and number of defenses..with quality a part of the mix, but not all of it.

    Let's try it: who was a better champion than Holmes save Ali and Louis? Not ATG fighter, not p4p..but title-holder? After all Frazier got bounced, so did Foreman and Liston...Dempsey fought infrequently and never fought Wills...Tyson got creamed by Douglas while an active fighter and in his early twenties...Lewis, Bowe etc had major losses on their sheets, and Holyfield waxed and waned.

    Marciano? Larry's reign was much longer with many more fights.

    Maybe then there were only 5 great title-holders: Sullivan, Burns, Louis, Ali and Holmes. Maybe Frazier (including his NYSAC title).

    Lots of defenses with no losses that were not to other greats.

    Jeffries didn't make enough defenses and retired without defending against any prime heavyweight save Sharkey who had been waxed by Fitz. Dempsey avoided fighting by living a celebrity life. Tunney avoided Jack Sharkey for crying out loud. Corbett was creamed by Fitz. Marciano defended against a grand total of 5 individuals (Walcott, Charles, Cockell, LaStarza and Moore) one of which had glandular issues, one was 38, 3 of which were one-time middles, two best remembered as LH's...one an emaciated remnant of a man who's main claim to fame is losing to Rocky.

    Tyson? Please. He beat Berbick, Biggs, Thomas, Smith, Tucker, Tubbs, Bruno. 5 names best remembered for exploits or lack therof in the Holmes era. Not exactly HOF stuff. Hell he beat a 38 year old Holmes fresh from an extended retirement.

    Ali had almost as many defenses, AND beat better fighters. Louis had more defenses, over a longer period. Then Larry.

    So, No one but these three are ATG's by this measurement. Everyone else falls short in length, #, and quality. Only the three have at least 2 of each category.

    The only man defintely on both the dominance list and the title-reign lists would be Ali and Louis. But Louis didn't really dominate technically. MAYBE Sullivan if we want to get technical. Some may say Jeff, but his was too brief and opposition too soft. Burns beat few real contenders, and Larry's quality is poor and he was defending a fragmented piece of faux-leather anyway. Remember, Larry didn't dominate.

    Thus, Ali and maybe Louis. Louis avoided some guys, and his quality is nowhere near Ali.

    But I digress....Since they all remained near the top for as long...and all made tons of defenses Ali's reign was best, followed by Joe and then Larry. Placing Larry as one of only three ATG's. By that way of determining ATG. THAT way of showing dominance.

    --

    I guess any point can be defended. Depends on how strenuously one wants to make that point stand up.
    Last edited by Sharkey; 08-21-2006 at 02:19 PM.

  2. #182
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    Rocky111

    "When Larry made that comment about Rocky he knew who would be offended and he knew that Rocky was the idol of his people. This guy and any guy in boxing knows who Rocky Marciano is. I dont let him off the hook nor do any Italians or part Italians I know. In his mind he was calling Rocky a nothing and anybody who loved him a know nothing. It was racist IMO. Cause he realized he was stupid for making it and what a fool he made out of himself and then apologized means nothing on the streets; Only in Heaven.'

    You previously stated this was a racist comment. If that is the case Why did Larry use also for an Irishman and two African American's as i previously pointed out?

    And no reposonse to the Peter Marciano information that I shared? Was HIS comment about lighting candles not out of line? Should I go to the length's that you are willing to go and say that they had racist intent behind them? And what purpose did he have by showing up at the post fight press conference other than to gloat?

    I've provided you some substance here. I would hope that if you are going to respond back agian, that you at least address them.

    Hawk

  3. #183
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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    Good analogy and break down Sharks. That was what I was waiting to touch on.

    In terms of overall career accomplishments, length of reign, number of defences, longevity etc...Larry likely falls only behind Ali at #1 and Louis at #2.

    Head to head, which is certainly more subjective, I don't see Larry beating prime versions of Ali, Louis (close tough fights though) Foreman, Frazier or Liston. That's MHI for what it's worth. I have Holmes at #6.

    Here's a question for you Hawk. How does any version of Larry do against the '73-76 Norton?

  4. #184
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    Holmes at his very best

    I say beats Norton at his very best by rather comfortable decision.

    Holmes had not yet peaked for the first Norton bout and did in fact go into the bout with a torn bicep. (agian, details behind the Boxrec resume)

    So a handicapped version of Holmes beat a slightly past his peak Norton in 1978.

    Give me Holmes from 1982 agianst Norton form say Quarry or Ali I, I got Holmes with room to spare.

    Hawk

  5. #185
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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    Incidentally, Holmes not fighting Foreman in 1976 was pretty shrewd. I for one am of the thinking Larry didn't need that fight, even against a Foreman with bruised confidence. I don't think Larry wins that fight.

    I also don't think anyone believes Larry's legacy begins in 1975. Avoiding Foreman: not cowardly, part of developing a fighter.

    I don't recall Frazier facing Liston in say, 1967.

  6. #186
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    Re: Was Larry Holmes….”The Greatest”?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roberto Aqui
    Hey, I'd be happy to collect my uncollected CBZ dividends.

    In the meantime, I never stated that Holmes ducked anyone. Only that he failed to meet the top comp of the day, regardless of politics or choice.

    Let me repeat: Holmes NEVER dominated. He won close fights against mostly average comp. Sure, he blew out the Zanons, Franks, Spinks, Ledouxs and Rodriguezes, but big whoop. Holmes ended up with an inferiority complex, not the mark of a really elite great fighter, but a defensive fighter. I'd put him in the lower top 10, but not elite.
    Good Gravy. One does not have to run through the heavyweigth division like a bad case of Montezuma's Revenge to be considered "dominant". Outside of Mike Tyson, Jack Dempsey, and Joe Louis....who's reigns have been critisized for lack of competition....who has ever "dominated" the big boys?

    Holmes "dominated" because he beat the best competition available. Those "alphabet champions" sought the easier path of winning the "other" belt rather than facing Holmes, who was the "real" champ.

    Yes, he was dominant regardless of whether he blew away the competition or eeked out decisions. The "w", in the end, is all that matters.

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    Re: 10-8

    Maybe someone can confirm a vague memory of mine. I remember a Holmes interview where he stated that he was scheduled to fight Ron Lyle in 1977, but the fight was called off due to Lyle getting arrested. Lyle was inactive from 9/77 to 6/78. Anybody have more info?

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    DM

    Larry's comment was essentially, and tactfully for Larry (note the sarcasm), was that the Ron Lyle didn't come off becuase, as Lar put it, "He killed somebody." I think it may have been in either the Champions Forver DVD or from the Holmes Cooney prefight Special.

    Off of the top of my head, Lyle's inactivity in late 77' through 79' MAY have been related. But I myself am trying to confirm this rather than lay all my belief in Holmes's comment.

    I know Lyle served hard time in prison, but to the best of my recollection, that was before he turned pro. So Holmes MAY have that mixed up a bit. But I do remember that there was Something that cuased his ring inactivity during this time frame.

    Sharks, I agree that Holmes in 1976 was not ready for Foreman yet. Holmes doesn't have a broken right in his bout with Williams, management would have been best served to feed him a diet of similarly leveled type of opponents before facing Big George.

    If Holmes doesn't hurt his mitt, I'd say by 1977 he would have been ready. But not in 1976. But with Holmes' injury as it was, the point is moot.

    Hawk

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    Re: 10-8

    Quote Originally Posted by dmh44
    Maybe someone can confirm a vague memory of mine. I remember a Holmes interview where he stated that he was scheduled to fight Ron Lyle in 1977, but the fight was called off due to Lyle getting arrested. Lyle was inactive from 9/77 to 6/78. Anybody have more info?
    Holmes was lickin' his chops to defend against Ron Lyle-- the fight was nearly a "go" after Lyle beat Scott LeDoux, if I recall rightly, but then Lyle went out and got himself pole-axed in a tune-up by a 3rd-rater named Lynn Ball.

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    Re: 10-8

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr E
    Holmes was lickin' his chops to defend against Ron Lyle-- the fight was nearly a "go" after Lyle beat Scott LeDoux, if I recall rightly, but then Lyle went out and got himself pole-axed in a tune-up by a 3rd-rater named Lynn Ball.
    I don't ever remember Lyle being mentioned as an opponent for Larry when he was champion. When Lyle defeated Ledoux, Holmes was set to fight Weaver in the summer and then Shavers in the fall. Lyle was no longer in the title picture in 1979.

    Larry's reference to a Lyle fight may have been around '77 or '78 and if memory serves me right Lyle did get into trouble with the law around that time (not be confused with his earlier stint in prison) when I believe he shot someone in a dispute. I think Lyle speaks about it (the arrest) in the book 'Facing Ali'. Sorry, but I don't have the book at hand at the moment...

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    10-8

    Thanks for jogging my memory re the source reference.

    Apparently Holmes DID have it correct....sort of.

    "In 1977, he recorded two significant wins, beating Stan ward and Joe Bugner, putting himself into a postiion for a potentially career boosting shot at Larry Holmes."

    Lyle called the cops to his house and the police found the body of Vernon Clark a former trainer, shot dead. No witnesses. Finger prints wiped off of the murder weapon by "mistake". And Lyle was CHARGED with second degree murder. Apparently yhr two struggled and Clark "accidentally" shot himself in the head. oops.

    Ok where does my "sort of" comment come in? In December of 78, Lyle was acquitted. So Larry's "killed a guy" comment, while probably accurate, wasn't legally so. After this ordeal, he was no longer the contender he previously was.

    So 10-8, Along with Norton, Foreman and Young, we now can officially cross off Lyle's name as a potential opponent during this time frame.

    Hawk

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    Re: 10-8

    Quote Originally Posted by 10-8
    I don't ever remember Lyle being mentioned as an opponent for Larry when he was champion. When Lyle defeated Ledoux, Holmes was set to fight Weaver in the summer and then Shavers in the fall. Lyle was no longer in the title picture in 1979.

    Larry's reference to a Lyle fight may have been around '77 or '78 and if memory serves me right Lyle did get into trouble with the law around that time (not be confused with his earlier stint in prison) when I believe he shot someone in a dispute. I think Lyle speaks about it (the arrest) in the book 'Facing Ali'. Sorry, but I don't have the book at hand at the moment...
    I don't have any inside information. I have a clear recollection of reading a boxing magazine account of the Lyle-LeDoux fight-- I believe one of the TV Sports mags (World Boxing, International Boxing, Big Book of Boxing) -- saying that Lyle had put himself in a position for a shot at Holmes and that Holmes wanted the fight. I also have a very specific recollection of subsequently reading (probably in the same mag) that Lyle's upset loss to Ball killed his chance to get a shot at Holmes.

    From Holmes's perspective, this would have been easy money-- Lyle was a big name but completely shot and, anyway, had a style made to order for Holmes. Big payday, little risk.

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    And

    A nice name pelt to have on his defense resume.

    In 77, Had Lyle no legal issues, the fight makes sense. In 79, It's Larry who get's charged with Murder.

    Hawk

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

    Ron Lyle was old and slow by 1976 -78. He could not lay a hand on Jimmy Young in two one sided loses. How in the world are we supposed to think he was going to have a shot against a young, prime Larry Holmes? Does anyone but Roberto, who believes Holmes was not undefeated at the time, believe Lyle had a shot other than a miracle Hail Mary ?

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    Amen Evan

    Foreman Lyle in January of 76' was truly a corss roads bout for both. Goerge Loses and his career is pretty much in shambles.

    And while Losing to Foreman should not be any disgrace for Lyle, and he put in a hell of an effort, he was pretty much a spent fighter after that bout.

    Post fight, even with the struggles George had, his bullet was pointing north (until PR of course).

    Lyle's, as we would find out subesquently, was pointing south after that war.

    And then there were other bullet issues for him.

    Holmes was still green enough in 77' where the bout makes sense with Lyle (legal issues aside), even though I would take Holmes by late rounds stoppage. By 79' Holmes would have mopped him up with ridiculous ease.

    Hawk

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    Re: And

    Quote Originally Posted by hawk5ins
    A nice name pelt to have on his defense resume.

    In 77, Had Lyle no legal issues, the fight makes sense. In 79, It's Larry who get's charged with Murder.

    Hawk
    LOL. Well said!

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

    Hawk
    You make good points and I cannot disagree with them. The Marciano family was out of line. A more classy way of dealing with it would have been to root against Larry inside of themselves. I dont think it was racist per se because I have never heard of Italian Americans rooting or disliking a fighter based on race. That they root for the Italian guy is understandable. Had Rocky been alive Im sure that as the great sportsman he is, he would have toned that down and kept the sportsmans attitude with the best man winning and that records are made to be broken. He ALWAYS showed his class as a sportsman.
    Larry Holmes hasnt done that. He has belittled other fighters at times with the Marciano comments being the cherry on top of the sundae.
    Racist? Who are we kidding here? The perception (a very wrong perception) amonst Black sports fans for years, until espn staring showing these fights again, is that Rocky Marciano was overrated and only got his breaks and his rep because he was White. I have seen these arguements over and over on the streets, in gyms, in prison etc etc. Mention Rocky Marciano and you'll get the arguement that he was not the real thing. The intense rooting against Rocky in his prime from Black sports fans was unstandable but never reported on-But it was fact. A huge amount of sports fans of color wanted the guy to get beat.
    Even the recorded conversation (if this was true) between Ali and Frazier in the car before they fought brings up the Marciano thing, that he wasnt great and was overrated because he was White.
    Lets keep it real here because this stuff is the true case. But in these PC times nobody wanted to write about it in the popular media.
    We went through a very racist time here in American boxing much in reverse to the Jack Johnson period, where the perception was that White boxers were inferior to Black boxers especially heavies. Many many Black sports fans and White ones too believed this in their hearts. Rocky was always a stumbling block for these types of fans. He couldnt be explained in view of their prejudice.
    Larry Holmes had that "steet" mentality and believed this just as much as conversly Tommy Burns believed Jack Johnson couldnt take it to the body and had the yellow streak.
    It was nonsense and HOlmes made a fool out of himself----But the comment was racist and I have explained it.
    Reality is
    boxing is not racist but individual and the Russian sucess in the heavy class is putting this nonsense to the grave where it belongs.

  18. #198
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    Bump

    I'd rather do this than repost what was said here in the MIke Casey Tunney Thread.

    See my comments on page 1 E.

    Hawk

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