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Larry Holmes - Who Were His Three Best Challengers?


Johnny Walker
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Tim Witherspoon

 

Mike Weaver

 

Earnie Shavers

 

Ali doesn't figure as he was shot when he fought Holmes.

 

Your choices are very good and I agree with your take on Ali, who by that time, was a mere shell. Shavers and Spoon, to me, without a doubt. What about Cooney, Smith, Bey or Williams relative to Weaver, based on merits earned leading up to the date with Holmes? Throw Berbick in there too. Did these guys, or even a couple of them, do more to earn the shot?

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Earnie Shavers

 

Gerry Cooney

 

Mike Weaver

 

I find it difficult to rate the defences against Witherspoon, Smith, Bey ect as they were all relatively inexperienced. They all went onto have decent careers but they were relatively raw when they met Holmes. Abit like Wlad Klitschko beating a 14-0 Derek Chisora. Chisora may later go on and do fine things but at the moment he isn't a credible challenger.

 

Trevor Berbick and Renaldo Snipes were decent wins aswell but after that its a record that is missing alot of names. Where are Gerrie Coetzee, Greg Page, John Tate, Tony Tubbs, Pinklon Thomas, James Tillis, Michael Dokes?

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Earnie Shavers

 

Gerry Cooney

 

Mike Weaver

 

I find it difficult to rate the defences against Witherspoon, Smith, Bey ect as they were all relatively inexperienced. They all went onto have decent careers but they were relatively raw when they met Holmes. Abit like Wlad Klitschko beating a 14-0 Derek Chisora. Chisora may later go on and do fine things but at the moment he isn't a credible challenger.

 

Trevor Berbick and Renaldo Snipes were decent wins aswell but after that its a record that is missing alot of names. Where are Gerrie Coetzee, Greg Page, John Tate, Tony Tubbs, Pinklon Thomas, James Tillis, Michael Dokes?

 

No doubt there could have been a few notable scalps added to Larry resume, such as Coetzee, Dokes and Page, however, they kept losing at the most inopportune times. Holmes never ducked them. Sure, in late-83 Page was the mandatory, but Holmes was offered more money for greenhorns such as Frank and Frazier, whom which he defended against over two months, than for a true threat such as Page.

 

Keep a few points in mind however. Page very likely would have shown-up fat for Holmes as he did for Spoon in March '84 for his box-off with Spoon. So in my mind, given what we saw from Page when he was handed the moment, what would he really have been when in with Holmes....and I think Holmes knew this. As for Coetzee....he would have folded within eight with Larry. Their ill-fated match which was officially announced in the media with both fighters present...well Coetzee was obviously in awe of Holmes during it....and his body language and words suggested "victim in the making".

 

Flipping matters over....none of them, not Spoon, Page or even Pinklon Thomas had the scalps Holmes had. They each had a scalp....but nothing over time....and even then, mostly Holmes retreads. Which brings us back to the one guy that beat Williams, gave Holmes a near death experience and managed to actually make a few defenses of his WBA title when he held it......Mike Weaver.

 

Maybe Weaver really was the guy.

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For me No 1 has to be Ken Norton who took Larry to a very tight SD,Snipes Who had Larry down in 7th only to be TKO'd in the 11th, & last but by no means least Shavers who also did the 7th round feat only to recieve the same end result.

Anyone of those guys would be more than enough trouble for today's robotic champs

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Holmes would have defeated Page easily IMO.

 

I tend to agree....after a cautious first three or four rounds.

 

Maybe he would have beaten Page, but that doesn't excuse Holmes not facing him. There have been much bigger upsets in boxing than Holmes losing to Page, who had the speed and style to give him plenty of problems. Page was Holmes' mandatory when he vacated the WBC title to fight Frazier instead. Yes he got more money but why not fight Page, keep the belt and then take the money fight with Frazier?

 

Larry complains about lack of recognition but his matchmaking hardly helped his cause. Thomas, Page, Dokes, Tubbs and Coetzee were among the best prime heavyweights when he was champion. All were world champions, had long spells in the top 10 and were usually better than the opponents Holmes was fighting. Yet Holmes never faced any of them.

 

Instead they faced each other while he tackled less deserving fighters like Evangelista, Zanon, Ledoux, Cobb, Frazier and Rodriguez. Bouts that no one wanted to see and did nothing for his all-time status. On the rare occasions he did face the WBA fighters (Witherspoon, Bonecrusher and Weaver) he had a tough fight and never rematched.

 

Blame King, money, boxing politics or the fighters themselves, but it hurts Larry's legacy that these fights were not made.

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I know what you mean Tel, but Norton didn't challenge Holmes for the title.

 

It was actually Holmes challening Norton for HIS title. They'd stripped Spinks for taking an Ali Rematch rather than that fighting the winner of Norton-Jimmy Young and just GAVE the Belt to Norton, who then had to meet the winner of Holmes-Earnie Shavers (they're first fight, not the second). When Holmes beat him, Ken Norton thus became the only "HW Champ" to go 0-3 in title fights grin//

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Cooney did pretty well for not having fought any lengthy fights and mostly fighting quick KO's, but his best punches were pretty much all below the Belt. Weaver was a tough fight, but I think he had an advantage in that Larry (and everybody else for that matter) didn't really take him seriously, what with a 19-8 record at the time they fought, and I thought Larry was kind of lucky to face Witherspoon when he did, before Tim got more experience. As for Holmes not facing the guys who ran through the WBA titles, I kind of blame them for not being able to hold onto it long enough to get a Holmes fight, and less about Larry ducking them.
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Holmes would have defeated Page easily IMO.

 

I tend to agree....after a cautious first three or four rounds.

 

Maybe he would have beaten Page, but that doesn't excuse Holmes not facing him. There have been much bigger upsets in boxing than Holmes losing to Page, who had the speed and style to give him plenty of problems. Page was Holmes' mandatory when he vacated the WBC title to fight Frazier instead. Yes he got more money but why not fight Page, keep the belt and then take the money fight with Frazier?

 

Larry complains about lack of recognition but his matchmaking hardly helped his cause. Thomas, Page, Dokes, Tubbs and Coetzee were among the best prime heavyweights when he was champion. All were world champions, had long spells in the top 10 and were usually better than the opponents Holmes was fighting. Yet Holmes never faced any of them.

 

Instead they faced each other while he tackled less deserving fighters like Evangelista, Zanon, Ledoux, Cobb, Frazier and Rodriguez. Bouts that no one wanted to see and did nothing for his all-time status. On the rare occasions he did face the WBA fighters (Witherspoon, Bonecrusher and Weaver) he had a tough fight and never rematched.

 

Blame King, money, boxing politics or the fighters themselves, but it hurts Larry's legacy that these fights were not made.

 

I'm not going to argue that Holmes should have ideally defended against Page when the time came (after Page endured some setbacks), but the business end of boxing got in the way...and by 1983, just after realizing his days were winding down, Holmes looked to maximize his earnings, which is what he did. I would be on his back today if they handed him equal or better money for Page over Frank and Frazier, but they didn't, so we cannot rightfully conclude Holmes ducked him.

 

You are also forgetting a few things here. Some of the names you listed were top ten fighters when Holmes turned them back. Cobb was a legitimate contender with some very telling wins. As for rematches, nobody called for any rematches with Spoon, Smith or Weaver. Nobody.

 

It's sometimes popular to accuse Holmes of taking the easy route, but consider something, each of the names he turned back that you mentioned in no way traveled as difficult a path as Holmes, let alone remained undefeated and successful for as long.

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I'm not going to argue that Holmes should have ideally defended against Page when the time came (after Page endured some setbacks), but the business end of boxing got in the way...and by 1983, just after realizing his days were winding down, Holmes looked to maximize his earnings, which is what he did. I would be on his back today if they handed him equal or better money for Page over Frank and Frazier, but they didn't, so we cannot rightfully conclude Holmes ducked him.

 

You are also forgetting a few things here. Some of the names you listed were top ten fighters when Holmes turned them back. Cobb was a legitimate contender with some very telling wins. As for rematches, nobody called for any rematches with Spoon, Smith or Weaver. Nobody.

 

It's sometimes popular to accuse Holmes of taking the easy route, but consider something, each of the names he turned back that you mentioned in no way traveled as difficult a path as Holmes, let alone remained undefeated and successful for as long.

 

If Holmes made a business decision to maximize his earnings then that was his choice but I don't see why he should get a pass for it. From my perspective a champion choosing an inexperienced unranked fighter over the #1 contender is inexcusable. Why not face Page for the lower offer, get the kudos for beating the top challenger and then take the walkover against Frazier? Ditching the belt makes it look like he just wanted the easier fight.

 

There was lots of interest in Weaver and Witherspoon rematches. Spoon was a very close, entertaining fight that many people thought Holmes lost. Weaver was an exciting toe to toe battle and a tough one for Holmes, as people here have agreed. When Weaver won the WBA belt a rematch to unify the title was a natural. Both those fights would have been very much in demand.

 

You say it's popular to criticize Holmes, but some of his career choices make it easier. No rematches of tough opponents and numerous undeserving challengers (I can't see when Cobb was ever more than a fringe contender). Surely you'd agree that Dokes, Page, Thomas etc would look more impressive on his record than a bunch of journeymen fighters. Compare that to Ali or Louis, who missed hardly any top contenders from their eras.

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I'm not going to argue that Holmes should have ideally defended against Page when the time came (after Page endured some setbacks), but the business end of boxing got in the way...and by 1983, just after realizing his days were winding down, Holmes looked to maximize his earnings, which is what he did. I would be on his back today if they handed him equal or better money for Page over Frank and Frazier, but they didn't, so we cannot rightfully conclude Holmes ducked him.

 

You are also forgetting a few things here. Some of the names you listed were top ten fighters when Holmes turned them back. Cobb was a legitimate contender with some very telling wins. As for rematches, nobody called for any rematches with Spoon, Smith or Weaver. Nobody.

 

It's sometimes popular to accuse Holmes of taking the easy route, but consider something, each of the names he turned back that you mentioned in no way traveled as difficult a path as Holmes, let alone remained undefeated and successful for as long.

 

If Holmes made a business decision to maximize his earnings then that was his choice but I don't see why he should get a pass for it. From my perspective a champion choosing an inexperienced unranked fighter over the #1 contender is inexcusable. Why not face Page for the lower offer, get the kudos for beating the top challenger and then take the walkover against Frazier? Ditching the belt makes it look like he just wanted the easier fight.

 

There was lots of interest in Weaver and Witherspoon rematches. Spoon was a very close, entertaining fight that many people thought Holmes lost. Weaver was an exciting toe to toe battle and a tough one for Holmes, as people here have agreed. When Weaver won the WBA belt a rematch to unify the title was a natural. Both those fights would have been very much in demand.

 

You say it's popular to criticize Holmes, but some of his career choices make it easier. No rematches of tough opponents and numerous undeserving challengers (I can't see when Cobb was ever more than a fringe contender). Surely you'd agree that Dokes, Page, Thomas etc would look more impressive on his record than a bunch of journeymen fighters. Compare that to Ali or Louis, who missed hardly any top contenders from their eras.

 

Lol. Are you talking about Larry Holmes or Ray Leonard?

 

Seriously, Holmes did just about all that he could. It would be folly to blame him for completely for failure to see Page/Dokes/Coetzee. And while we're on the topic, Waever and Spoon were busy enough winning and losing in the period after Holmes turned them back. You can make a case for Spoon deserving a rematch, but to rag on Holmes' legacy because he didn't afford these guys yet another chance to behead him makes little sense. Frankly, Tim had his problems staying in the win column, even without Larry's help. Ditto with Weaver.....Dokes.....Page, et al.

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I'm not going to argue that Holmes should have ideally defended against Page when the time came (after Page endured some setbacks), but the business end of boxing got in the way...and by 1983, just after realizing his days were winding down, Holmes looked to maximize his earnings, which is what he did. I would be on his back today if they handed him equal or better money for Page over Frank and Frazier, but they didn't, so we cannot rightfully conclude Holmes ducked him.

 

You are also forgetting a few things here. Some of the names you listed were top ten fighters when Holmes turned them back. Cobb was a legitimate contender with some very telling wins. As for rematches, nobody called for any rematches with Spoon, Smith or Weaver. Nobody.

 

It's sometimes popular to accuse Holmes of taking the easy route, but consider something, each of the names he turned back that you mentioned in no way traveled as difficult a path as Holmes, let alone remained undefeated and successful for as long.

 

If Holmes made a business decision to maximize his earnings then that was his choice but I don't see why he should get a pass for it. From my perspective a champion choosing an inexperienced unranked fighter over the #1 contender is inexcusable. Why not face Page for the lower offer, get the kudos for beating the top challenger and then take the walkover against Frazier? Ditching the belt makes it look like he just wanted the easier fight.

 

There was lots of interest in Weaver and Witherspoon rematches. Spoon was a very close, entertaining fight that many people thought Holmes lost. Weaver was an exciting toe to toe battle and a tough one for Holmes, as people here have agreed. When Weaver won the WBA belt a rematch to unify the title was a natural. Both those fights would have been very much in demand.

 

You say it's popular to criticize Holmes, but some of his career choices make it easier. No rematches of tough opponents and numerous undeserving challengers (I can't see when Cobb was ever more than a fringe contender). Surely you'd agree that Dokes, Page, Thomas etc would look more impressive on his record than a bunch of journeymen fighters. Compare that to Ali or Louis, who missed hardly any top contenders from their eras.

 

Lol. Are you talking about Larry Holmes or Ray Leonard?

 

Seriously, Holmes did just about all that he could. It would be folly to blame him for completely for failure to see Page/Dokes/Coetzee. And while we're on the topic, Waever and Spoon were busy enough winning and losing in the period after Holmes turned them back. You can make a case for Spoon deserving a rematch, but to rag on Holmes' legacy because he didn't afford these guys yet another chance to behead him makes little sense. Frankly, Tim had his problems staying in the win column, even without Larry's help. Ditto with Weaver.....Dokes.....Page, et al.

 

Some of Holmes' matchmaking would do Leonard proud. You said in your opening post that Larry gets criticized for fighting no hopers and inexperienced fighters. Well, take away Norton, Cooney, Shavers, Weaver and Michael Spinks and that's exactly what a lot of them were.

 

It's also harsh to rag on those guys for losing when it was usually against other members of the group that Holmes didn't face. Spoon beat Page, Thomas beat Spoon, Dokes beat Weaver, Spoon beat Tubbs, Coetzee beat Dokes, Weaver beat Coetzee, Tubbs beat Page, Page beat Coetzee etc. Who's to say Holmes wouldn't have lost a few had he been in that mix. After all, of the two he did meet both gave him a hard fight and one was a very controversial decision. It's easier to keep winning when you're fighting Scott Le Doux and Lorenzo Zanon.

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I'm not going to argue that Holmes should have ideally defended against Page when the time came (after Page endured some setbacks), but the business end of boxing got in the way...and by 1983, just after realizing his days were winding down, Holmes looked to maximize his earnings, which is what he did. I would be on his back today if they handed him equal or better money for Page over Frank and Frazier, but they didn't, so we cannot rightfully conclude Holmes ducked him.

 

You are also forgetting a few things here. Some of the names you listed were top ten fighters when Holmes turned them back. Cobb was a legitimate contender with some very telling wins. As for rematches, nobody called for any rematches with Spoon, Smith or Weaver. Nobody.

 

It's sometimes popular to accuse Holmes of taking the easy route, but consider something, each of the names he turned back that you mentioned in no way traveled as difficult a path as Holmes, let alone remained undefeated and successful for as long.

 

If Holmes made a business decision to maximize his earnings then that was his choice but I don't see why he should get a pass for it. From my perspective a champion choosing an inexperienced unranked fighter over the #1 contender is inexcusable. Why not face Page for the lower offer, get the kudos for beating the top challenger and then take the walkover against Frazier? Ditching the belt makes it look like he just wanted the easier fight.

 

There was lots of interest in Weaver and Witherspoon rematches. Spoon was a very close, entertaining fight that many people thought Holmes lost. Weaver was an exciting toe to toe battle and a tough one for Holmes, as people here have agreed. When Weaver won the WBA belt a rematch to unify the title was a natural. Both those fights would have been very much in demand.

 

You say it's popular to criticize Holmes, but some of his career choices make it easier. No rematches of tough opponents and numerous undeserving challengers (I can't see when Cobb was ever more than a fringe contender). Surely you'd agree that Dokes, Page, Thomas etc would look more impressive on his record than a bunch of journeymen fighters. Compare that to Ali or Louis, who missed hardly any top contenders from their eras.

 

Lol. Are you talking about Larry Holmes or Ray Leonard?

 

Seriously, Holmes did just about all that he could. It would be folly to blame him for completely for failure to see Page/Dokes/Coetzee. And while we're on the topic, Waever and Spoon were busy enough winning and losing in the period after Holmes turned them back. You can make a case for Spoon deserving a rematch, but to rag on Holmes' legacy because he didn't afford these guys yet another chance to behead him makes little sense. Frankly, Tim had his problems staying in the win column, even without Larry's help. Ditto with Weaver.....Dokes.....Page, et al.

 

Some of Holmes' matchmaking would do Leonard proud. You said in your opening post that Larry gets criticized for fighting no hopers and inexperienced fighters. Well, take away Norton, Cooney, Shavers, Weaver and Michael Spinks and that's exactly what a lot of them were.

 

It's also harsh to rag on those guys for losing when it was usually against other members of the group that Holmes didn't face. Spoon beat Page, Thomas beat Spoon, Dokes beat Weaver, Spoon beat Tubbs, Coetzee beat Dokes, Weaver beat Coetzee, Tubbs beat Page, Page beat Coetzee etc. Who's to say Holmes wouldn't have lost a few had he been in that mix. After all, of the two he did meet both gave him a hard fight and one was a very controversial decision. It's easier to keep winning when you're fighting Scott Le Doux and Lorenzo Zanon.

 

It's not harsh to rag on those guys for losing the WBA belt. Some guys are just winners. Holmes is one such...and when he was floored and struggling he was at his best! He got up and won. You have to look at the context of the situation and some of it is on King. Look at the guys Felix Trinidad defended against....seemingly forever while the world rimmed him. Fifteen defenses....and how many were valid by the standards inflicted on Holmes as champ? I don't see people slagging Trinidad.......so I would chalk some of that up to King's direction and business style. Meanwhile, others are losing for any number of reasons and fans are overlooking the variables connected to this that may have greatly impacted Holmes/King's defense direction.

 

Legitimate top ten contenders that Larry waxed: Earnie Shavers, LeRoy Jones, Trevor Berbick, Leon Spinks, Renaldo Snipes, Gerry Cooney, Randall Cobb, Tim Witherspoon, David Bey, Carl Williams......and I think James Smith (not sure). That's just over half.....not counting Mike Weaver who we all agree was one of the very best even though at the moment he almost beat Holmes he wasn't top ten cloth, rather perceived cannon fodder.

 

But where history loves to put a fancy moniker on Joe Louis Bum of the Month exploits fans love to rag on Larry...when Larry's fodder was levels better than, as an example, a gimme defense against some Heavyweight Champ of a New Jersey lumber yard, if you get my drift.

 

Holmes gets a pass in this corner. His volatile demeanor never helped him but we have scant few examples of how to play champ with dignity, apologies to all of the greats that had stuff to say playing the role of champ while trying to ensure ticket sales, gate and ego, all in the same breath.

 

Now, if you want to get technical, there were, IMO, some extraordinary men fighting at the same time Holmes fought. Spoon almost beat Holmes, and he won a title on two occasions.....but he was up and down, lacking the focus Holmes had...over time. Weaver? He was an over achiever at his very best, often underrated but a hair or two below overall. Pinklon Thomas? An underrated fighter with a prime that evaporated suddenly. Dokes? Up and down due to demons. Page, up and down due to questionable focus.

 

I would have loved to have seen Holmes face the May 1983 Dokes or the August 1984 Thomas or the late-83 Page. But there are reasons why these bouts never happened and I won't completely blame Holmes for all of it even though I would have liked for him to have faced even two of these men.

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It's not harsh to rag on those guys for losing the WBA belt. Some guys are just winners. Holmes is one such...and when he was floored and struggling he was at his best! He got up and won. You have to look at the context of the situation and some of it is on King. Look at the guys Felix Trinidad defended against....seemingly forever while the world rimmed him. Fifteen defenses....and how many were valid by the standards inflicted on Holmes as champ? I don't see people slagging Trinidad.......so I would chalk some of that up to King's direction and business style. Meanwhile, others are losing for any number of reasons and fans are overlooking the variables connected to this that may have greatly impacted Holmes/King's defense direction.

 

Legitimate top ten contenders that Larry waxed: Earnie Shavers, LeRoy Jones, Trevor Berbick, Leon Spinks, Renaldo Snipes, Gerry Cooney, Randall Cobb, Tim Witherspoon, David Bey, Carl Williams......and I think James Smith (not sure). That's just over half.....not counting Mike Weaver who we all agree was one of the very best even though at the moment he almost beat Holmes he wasn't top ten cloth, rather perceived cannon fodder.

 

But where history loves to put a fancy moniker on Joe Louis Bum of the Month exploits fans love to rag on Larry...when Larry's fodder was levels better than, as an example, a gimme defense against some Heavyweight Champ of a New Jersey lumber yard, if you get my drift.

 

Holmes gets a pass in this corner. His volatile demeanor never helped him but we have scant few examples of how to play champ with dignity, apologies to all of the greats that had stuff to say playing the role of champ while trying to ensure ticket sales, gate and ego, all in the same breath.

 

Now, if you want to get technical, there were, IMO, some extraordinary men fighting at the same time Holmes fought. Spoon almost beat Holmes, and he won a title on two occasions.....but he was up and down, lacking the focus Holmes had...over time. Weaver? He was an over achiever at his very best, often underrated but a hair or two below overall. Pinklon Thomas? An underrated fighter with a prime that evaporated suddenly. Dokes? Up and down due to demons. Page, up and down due to questionable focus.

 

I would have loved to have seen Holmes face the May 1983 Dokes or the August 1984 Thomas or the late-83 Page. But there are reasons why these bouts never happened and I won't completely blame Holmes for all of it even though I would have liked for him to have faced even two of these men.

 

Yes it is harsh to rag on them for losing to other top contenders Holmes didn't face. If Thomas or Witherspoon fought Lorenzo Zanon, Alfredo Evangelista, Tex Cobb, Marvis Frazier, Scott Le Doux, Scott Frank, Lucien Rodriguez, Ossie Ocasio and Leon Spinks they would have reigned for years too. Instead they're effectively being criticized for taking harder fights. Perhaps Coetzee should have copied Holmes and fought Frazier instead of Page. Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson or the Klitschkos would be crucified if they gave a title shot to fighters like that.

 

How about all the "legitimate top ten contenders" that Holmes didn't face between 1978 and 1985? Thomas, Dokes, Page, Tubbs, Tate and Coetzee are more impressive names than Bey, Spinks, Cobb or Jones. Even Snipes got his shot based on a robbery win over Coetzee, who Weaver had already knocked out in a title defence. I notice that Cobb squeaked into the Ring's top 10 one year so if you want to list him as a legit contender than fair enough. But he was never more than a limited journeyman fighter. Furthermore, in late 1982 while Holmes was fighting Cobb, Weaver the WBA champion was fighting #1 rated Dokes!

 

Blaming King is also a doubled-edged sword. If you blame him for these fights not happening then you can also say he kept Holmes away from dangerous contenders who might have beaten him, and instead set him up with lots of no hopers. Would Holmes have got to 48-0 and 20 defences if he'd faced those WBA guys? Maybe he would have beaten them all. Then again he might not have. They all would have been more competitive and popular than the mismatches listed above. My point is, we'll never know now and Holmes' record is weaker for it.

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It's not harsh to rag on those guys for losing the WBA belt. Some guys are just winners. Holmes is one such...and when he was floored and struggling he was at his best! He got up and won. You have to look at the context of the situation and some of it is on King. Look at the guys Felix Trinidad defended against....seemingly forever while the world rimmed him. Fifteen defenses....and how many were valid by the standards inflicted on Holmes as champ? I don't see people slagging Trinidad.......so I would chalk some of that up to King's direction and business style. Meanwhile, others are losing for any number of reasons and fans are overlooking the variables connected to this that may have greatly impacted Holmes/King's defense direction.

 

Legitimate top ten contenders that Larry waxed: Earnie Shavers, LeRoy Jones, Trevor Berbick, Leon Spinks, Renaldo Snipes, Gerry Cooney, Randall Cobb, Tim Witherspoon, David Bey, Carl Williams......and I think James Smith (not sure). That's just over half.....not counting Mike Weaver who we all agree was one of the very best even though at the moment he almost beat Holmes he wasn't top ten cloth, rather perceived cannon fodder.

 

But where history loves to put a fancy moniker on Joe Louis Bum of the Month exploits fans love to rag on Larry...when Larry's fodder was levels better than, as an example, a gimme defense against some Heavyweight Champ of a New Jersey lumber yard, if you get my drift.

 

Holmes gets a pass in this corner. His volatile demeanor never helped him but we have scant few examples of how to play champ with dignity, apologies to all of the greats that had stuff to say playing the role of champ while trying to ensure ticket sales, gate and ego, all in the same breath.

 

Now, if you want to get technical, there were, IMO, some extraordinary men fighting at the same time Holmes fought. Spoon almost beat Holmes, and he won a title on two occasions.....but he was up and down, lacking the focus Holmes had...over time. Weaver? He was an over achiever at his very best, often underrated but a hair or two below overall. Pinklon Thomas? An underrated fighter with a prime that evaporated suddenly. Dokes? Up and down due to demons. Page, up and down due to questionable focus.

 

I would have loved to have seen Holmes face the May 1983 Dokes or the August 1984 Thomas or the late-83 Page. But there are reasons why these bouts never happened and I won't completely blame Holmes for all of it even though I would have liked for him to have faced even two of these men.

 

Yes it is harsh to rag on them for losing to other top contenders Holmes didn't face. If Thomas or Witherspoon fought Lorenzo Zanon, Alfredo Evangelista, Tex Cobb, Marvis Frazier, Scott Le Doux, Scott Frank, Lucien Rodriguez, Ossie Ocasio and Leon Spinks they would have reigned for years too. Instead they're effectively being criticized for taking harder fights. Perhaps Coetzee should have copied Holmes and fought Frazier instead of Page. Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson or the Klitschkos would be crucified if they gave a title shot to fighters like that.

 

How about all the "legitimate top ten contenders" that Holmes didn't face between 1978 and 1985? Thomas, Dokes, Page, Tubbs, Tate and Coetzee are more impressive names than Bey, Spinks, Cobb or Jones. Even Snipes got his shot based on a robbery win over Coetzee, who Weaver had already knocked out in a title defence. I notice that Cobb squeaked into the Ring's top 10 one year so if you want to list him as a legit contender than fair enough. But he was never more than a limited journeyman fighter. Furthermore, in late 1982 while Holmes was fighting Cobb, Weaver the WBA champion was fighting #1 rated Dokes!

 

Blaming King is also a doubled-edged sword. If you blame him for these fights not happening then you can also say he kept Holmes away from dangerous contenders who might have beaten him, and instead set him up with lots of no hopers. Would Holmes have got to 48-0 and 20 defences if he'd faced those WBA guys? Maybe he would have beaten them all. Then again he might not have. They all would have been more competitive and popular than the mismatches listed above. My point is, we'll never know now and Holmes' record is weaker for it.

 

It's not harsh. Holmes...or any fighter for that matter does not have to face the opposition of the aforementioned in order to have legitimacy in his own career. The fighters Holmes faced were by and large legitimate, worthy opposition. As an example, he beat two men that greatly troubled or arguably defeated Michael Dokes. He defeated two men who handed Greg Page losses. In short, he earned himself the right of destiny.

 

Now....as for the WBA guys, let's review the matter. He turned back no less than five fighters that at one time held the WBA title, or would go on to hold (and just as quickly lose) it. A mega payday right-of-passage with the shell of Ali, Leon Spinks, Mike Weaver, Tim Witherspoon, Bonecrusher Smith. Let's also remember that Holmes signed to face Gerrie Coetzee and had Tony Tubbs penciled-in as his January 1986 opponent after facing Michael Spinks. Clearly one cannot say that Larry Holmes essentially ducked WBA-rated heavyweights.

 

It's really very simple. Either the glass is half full or its half empty. As talented and as dedicated as Greg Page, Michael Dokes and Tim Witherspoon were, the ever changing variables of boxing, as it affected those around them as well as each of them personally, complicated any opportunity with Holmes.

 

In the case of Witherspoon, I will state for the record that he dragged Holmes as close as could be to the brink, which is why round 9 to me is one of Larry's greatest demonstrations of heart, dogged determination and resolve as a champion. Holmes won a very controversial split decision. Some would argue he lost, others believe he won. The fact remains two judges saw him win, and despite his great showing, Spoon failed to put Holmes away in that 9th round. I believe he barely squeaked by in that one, and I suspect he didn't want to give Spoon a rematch given the trouble he had with him in their bout.

 

There is simply no way that Greg Page or Michael Dokes lost because they faced better opposition than Holmes, or that had Holmes faced their opposition he likely would have lost along the way. Simply look at their records. What Holmes did with Weaver and Cobb, Michael Dokes needed two bouts a piece. What Holmes did with Spoon, for better or for worse, there is no way Page demonstrated anywhere near the same level of fitness or resolve, nor was Spoon the same focused fighter in March '84 as he had been ten months earlier. As for Snipes, Page did well with him but didn't dominate to the level expected of a fighter with his pedigree, certainly the score cards were far closer than they had been with Holmes, despite the close shave in the 7th. And I won't even delve into Bey.

 

Disparage Holmes' tenure as champion if you will, but the body of evidence leans towards his being a good champion more than it does of a titlist being derelict of duty and milking the title.

 

It's a little like the old argument that Rocky Marciano just won and defended his heavyweight championship against old men when in fact he defended it, for the most part, against the best possible opposition of the day.

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Barely half of Holmes's title opponents deserve the description "legitimate" and "worthy". Witherspoon and Smith are also arguable given their limited pro experience when they fought Holmes and you're also counting people like Bey and Cobb as "Legitimate top ten contenders", which is a major stretch. The likes of Zanon, Frazier and Le Doux are indefensible.

 

How does Holmes beating two men who "greatly troubled" (but didn't beat) Dokes absolve him of not meeting Dokes? Lucien Rodriguez was given a fight with Holmes despite being knocked out three times by Holmes victim Evangelista. More to the point, why was Holmes fighting Tex Cobb while Weaver was fighting Dokes, then very highly regarded and ranked #1? Page is not complicated at all. Page was ranked #1, Holmes chose to vacate his belt and fight Marvis Frazier instead, and Page was left to tackle Witherspoon. They may not have kept it together for long, but both had a spell when they were highly thought of and a dangerous fight for Holmes, and in both cases he took less risky fights instead.

 

On results against common opponents, Tyson beat Tony Tucker and Tucker beat Buster Douglas, yet Douglas beat Tyson. Ali beat Foreman and Shavers, Foreman and Shavers brutally KO'd Norton, yet Norton always gave Ali a hard time. Styles make fights. Thomas beat a more experienced, title-holding Witherspoon and had an easier time with Weaver than Holmes. Weaver KO'd Williams (another who pushed Holmes very close) in 2 rounds. Coetzee knocked out Spinks in one round and did it before Holmes. Page handled Snipes as well as Holmes did, and did it without almost getting knocked out. I won't delve into Bey either. I thought Page won.

 

Two of those WBA champions were Ali's ghost and Leon Spinks whose sole claim to fame is decisioning a tired old Ali. That Leon only won half his fights over the rest of his career is a better measure of his fighting level. Okay you can give Holmes retrospective credit for beating 3 guys who went on to hold the title, however none was seen as championship calibre when he fought them. I'm not sure Smith or Weaver were even rated in the top 10. Even so, it's revealing that all three gave him a hard fight despite lack of experience and title credentials.

 

There are numerous good prime heavyweights from his era that Holmes didn't fight. There's no justification for not meeting any of them (or giving rematches to tough opponents) given how many of his defences were against mediocre or inexperienced fighters. Thomas, Page, Dokes, Coetzee and Tubbs were all risky fights for Holmes. They all held a world title, had long stays in the top ten and were easily superior to many Holmes gave a title shot to. No one can go through Louis, Ali or Marciano's careers and name that many prime top contenders missing from their record.

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Re: Larry Holmes - Who Were His Three Best Challengers?

 

Many feel Larry defended against a lot of no-hopers and inexperienced fighters, but I hold he did better than just that, without the need for a Bum of the Month tour.

 

Who do you feel were his three best challengers, the three most qualified and skilled challengers that he turned back?

 

----- Big Lar was a King controlled fighter wrapped in cotton wool and protected mostly.

 

Never unified in what was one of the best eras talentwise, and in fact was one of the architects of splitting the title to avoid his #1 mandatory.

 

He was an overachiever though who showed a lot of heart. By challengers, I assume you mean his title run in his best years, so in order:

 

1....MSpinks, a superior boxer/puncher with a superior pedigree from ama to pro. Big Lar was carefully picked apart at ring center by Spinks' little snapping jabs over the top of Lar's defense with strategic rights to keep him at bay. Don't want to hear any robbery nonsense about the rematch given all the controversial fights Holmes won prior to Spinks either.

 

2......Cooney, a fighter also carefully protected who built his fearsome rep on overrated past it big names who had more than a years worth of rust going into their fight. After a quick stinger dropped Cooney early, he picked Holmes apart with jabs and hooks before running out of steam late in the fight well past the early nights Cooney had become accustomed to. Good heart to survive the hard punching Cooney, but again the supposed master boxer was outboxed and only closed the gap on the cards when Cooney's form flagged and he couldn't raise his hooks above the low blow.

 

3.....Norton, well past his best and disheartened in an era that Big George had to retire in never having a hope of regaining his belt. Holmes was the same age as George but curiously unqualified to be a part of the era in spite of being a part of the Ali training camp for many years. In spite of being the fresher fighter going into Norton, Holmes ended up scraping an unpopular spare split over Norton with no rematch in spite of that fight being much bigger purse than his first defense against Afredo WTF Evangelista. And he claims to be a professional prizefighter? Don't get me started.

 

4....... You wanted 3 wins against challengers, so I'm going to chose one that there is no controversy over, Ernie Shavers. Probably under modern conditions Shavers would have won when he put down Larry as hard as I've ever seen, but no doubt about what happened afterwards. Shavers was easily outclassed most every time he stepped up, though he did get robbed as many did by Ali, but that Ali was so overripe that even Novice Neon Leon whooped him next time out.

 

Glad to see some new blood around.........later...........

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Ok folks......so if we are going to chastise "Peanut" for his challengers then we have to take prime and post-prime Ali to task, not to mention Joe Frazier and Joe Louis. Sonny Liston? He failed to do good work as a champ.

 

Takers?

 

Or perhaps an adjustment of the microscope is in order?

 

Twenty title defenses and I say that eleven were solid defenses over contenders or marquee names with too many dollars attached. The rest can be argued one way or another....but if we are going to love Louis for taking on UPS drivers and flower shop owners than we have to understand and accept the cost of doing business as Larry Holmes circa 1978-1985.

 

Now, I am no spring chicken, but I do know that all too often a fan can have his viewpoint altered by personal feelings, pro or con. Holmes had an acid tongue, at-times, and he could alienate those around him almost as quickly as a naked Roseanne Barr....but don't let that obscure the good work he did as heavyweight champ. If you want to slag on Holmes, even hate on him for not giving Spoon a rematch, so be it. But the fact remains, Spoon failed to finish the job....or at the very least, convince two of the judges.....and that was against a declining Holmes, not a 28 year-old upstart.

 

Michael Spinks? Great fighter, underrated and willing - but - he edged the flattest Holmes I have ever seen by........one point. Did Spinks deserve it. Yes. But by denigrating Holmes....you denigrate Spinks' historical achievement.

 

I'm a Holmes fan. I'm a Spinks and Spoon fan. More than that I'm a fan of boxing. I never much cared for a few of the more popular fighters of the last twenty years....but damned if I let that get in the way of appreciating how good they could be....or how bad they could be, at times. Boxing is a story line. It's about drama, both in and out of the ring, shrouded by ever-changing variables. It's a commentary on the human condition...under the microscope...for all the world to see.

 

If Holmes is a farce, if he's shit....then so too are all of the others he dispatched...or those that failed to keep their pants up around their waist...because their belt kept....slipping away.

 

Think about that.

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