Comparing Opposition: Holmes/Lewis

25.12.04 - By Don Caputo: Larry Holmes and Lennox Lewis both ruled the heavyweight division for a number of years and are considered the dominant champions of their respective eras, but who defeated the better opposition? Here is a list of their best wins:

Holmes's best wins - Ken Norton(W15), Earnie Shavers(W10, TKO11), Muhammad Ali(TKO11), Trevor Berbick(W15), Gerry Cooney(TKO13), Mike Weaver(TKO12), Bonecrusher Smith(TKO12), Tim Witherspoon(W15), Carl Williams(W15), Ray Mercer(W12).

Lewis's best wins - Razor Ruddock(KO2), Tony Tucker(W12), Frank Bruno(TKO7), Tommy Morrision(TKO6), Ray Mercer(W10), Andrew Golota(KO1), Evander Holyfield(W12), David Tua(W12), Mike Tyson(KO8), Vitali Klitscko(TKO6).

Ken Norton vs Evander Holyfield: Both were slightly past their best but by no means washed up. Norton would deteriorate rapidly after losing to Holmes but a few months prior to their memorable battle he had claimed a portion of the heavyweight crown with a victory over Jimmy Young, so he was without a doubt still one of the top fighters in the division. Holyfield was considered the best heavyweight in the world when Lewis outpointed him & was comming off one of his most impressive performances against Micheal Moorer, a man he lost to a few years earlier. He also went on to win the title for a 4th time after losing to Lewis.


Muhammad Ali vs Mike Tyson: Both were washed up but Tyson at least had a punchers chance against Lewis, Ali on the other hand had nothing against Holmes, no power, no speed, no movement, he was just a punching bag.


Earnie Shavers vs David Tua: Both were incredibly powerful but limited fighters. Shaver’s had an unreliable chin & poor stamina to compliment his devastating right hand. Tua despite having a concrete chin and excellent power had shown he could be out boxed as he was very small for a heavyweight (5’9”) and had a frustratingly low work rate. Even though Shavers right hand is considered to be one of the hardest punches in history I don’t think Tua's left hook is too far behind, both fighters were dangerous every second they were in the ring. Going into his title fight with Holmes Shavers had a KO win over Jimmy Young and a close and some think controversial decision loss to an ageing Muhammad Ali in 1977, but losses to Jerry Quarry and Ron Lyle who both stopped him forced a lot of people to only give him a punchers chance against Holmes. David Tua on the other hand was being compared to a young Mike Tyson before he faced Lewis, his highlight reel knockouts exited the boxing public and many experts predicted a stunning KO win over the long reigning champion.


Gerry Cooney vs Andrew Golota: Both had a lot of ability but ultimately proved to be over hyped. Cooney was big and had a fantastic left hook, he notched up some good wins which including a first round blow out of Kenny Norton before challenging Holmes. Golota build his reputation on 2 DQ losses to Riddick Bowe, who at the time was considered the best heavyweight in the world after knocking out Evander Holyfield in1995. The “Foul Poul” looked like he was on his way to winning both fights before getting thrown out for repeated low blows.


Bonecrusher Smith vs Razor Ruddock: Although they were both big hitters Ruddock was certainly the more gifted fighter as he showed when they faced each other, he had a tremendous left hook and gave a prime Mike Tyson all he could handle in back-to-back fights. Lewis was a big underdog going in against Ruddock, Iron Mike was in prison and Razor was being hailed as the uncrowned champion based on brutal KO wins over the likes of Michael Dokes, Bonecrusher Smith and his wars with Tyson.


Trevor Berbick vs Tommy Morrison: Morrison was equally dangerous as he was vulnerable; he had a lethal left hook and enough boxing skills to out box an old George Foreman in 1993. His power punching style was exiting and he had plenty of heart as he showed by getting off the canvas to stop Razor Ruddock, but after being brutally knocked out by Ray Mercer in six rounds many questioned his punch resistance. Berbick was less talented but wins over a washed up Muhammad Ali and Pinklon Thomas showed he could fight.


Carl Williams vs Tony Tucker: In my opinion Tucker was the better fighter but I have to take into account that he was 35 when he lost to Lewis whereas Williams was young, unbeaten and hungry when he challenged Holmes.


Mike Weaver vs Frank Bruno: Although Bruno has a more impressive looking record he never beat a top contender. His best win was against Oliver McCall, a good top ten type fighter but never one of the elites of the division. He performed courageously in all of his losses and will always be remembered for rocking Mike Tyson and giving Bonecrusher Smith, Tim Witherpoon and Lennox Lewis very tough fights before being stopped. Weaver had quite a few losses he was but he also defeated high quality opposition on a few occasions.


Tim Witherpoon vs Vitali Klitscko: Witherpoon fought Holmes very early in his career before he was an established top name in the division. He went on to have a successful but inconsistent career, picking up a couple of titles but never reaching his full potential. Klitscko is one of the biggest heavyweight champions in history and the current number one man in the division. He is potentially the next dominant heavyweight after Lewis.


Holmes and Lewis both defeated Ray Mercer.

So, in my opinion, Lewis faced the slightly better opposition throughout his career but there really isn’t much between them. It’s often been said that they both reigned in weak era’s which if you look at some of the names on their records goes to show how good you have to be to dominate any era regardless of how good or bad it is perceived to be, especially in the heavyweight division.

Article posted on 25.12.2004

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