Happy Birthday Earnie Shavers – “The Puncher Of The Century” Turns 77

Dubbed “The Puncher of the Century,” and with good reason, Earnie Shavers turns 77 today. The man born in Garland, Alabama is one of the last few remaining survivors of that golden age for the heavyweight division: the 1970s, when there were so many great fighters all rivaling each other, when they’re so many great fights taking place when fight fans the world over were spoiled and never realised it.

Shavers, like the rest of the ’70’s heavyweights, chased main man Muhammad Ali. Shavers got a shot at Ali, and, boy, how hard did “The Acorn” push the great man! Only Ali’s almost supernatural chin saved him in the September 1977 war that went all 15 rounds. Shavers lost a close decision, and he also lost his second and final shot at the world title. Facing Ali’s successor, Larry Holmes in September of 1979 (in a rematch of a non-title fight, a decision loss for Earnie), Shavers put Holmes down HARD in round seven, with only Holmes’ almost supernatural recuperative powers allowing him to rise from what must have been a very dark room.

Shavers was stopped on his feet in round 11. To this day, Earnie says Holmes thumbed him in the eye; either intentionally or unintentionally. Shavers would never be a world champion, but he sure made his mark on the sport, on the division. Fans still talk in awe about Shavers and his withering, frightening punching power. Almost every big name who faced Shavers that you care to mention utter Shavers’ name when asked who was the hardest hitter they ever faced:

Ali said it often, as does Holmes, while guys like Ken Norton, “when was the fight!” Ron Lyle, “it was like a shotgun blast,” Randy “Tex” Cobb, “no-one hit harder than Shavers – if anyone hit harder than Shavers, I’d shoot him,” and James “Quick” Tillis, “Shavers hit so hard he could turn horse piss into gasoline,” described in their own way how lethal a banger Shavers really was.

One of the best to never become world champion, Shavers is nevertheless revered like a champ. His power was in a league of its own, truly. And Earnie is still here today, he’s still in good health, he can recall all his big night and he can tell you about them in a clear voice. Shavers’ final ring record reads an astonishing, 74-14-1 with, get this, 68 KO’s.

Here Shavers recalls some of his big fights:

“The toughest guy I ever fought was Roy “Tiger” Williams, no doubt about it,” Shavers said. “He was a big guy, a real strong guy. Matter of fact, I was afraid of him! He just kept coming and coming. I had to fight so hard just to keep him from overwhelming me. I finally managed to knock him out in the tenth round, in the final ten seconds, after he has almost knocked me out.”

“My best win was when I KO’d Jimmy Ellis in New York. That first-round win opened things up for me at the top level. He was a big name, a former world champion, and I beat him with ease. My uppercut took him out.”

“My worst loss, that has to be the Larry Holmes fight, the second fight, for the title. For some reason, I just couldn’t get going properly that night. Larry got me with a thumb in the eye, I think in round-six, and that tore my retina. I knocked him down in the seventh but he got back up and I couldn’t finish him off. Larry had the great old-school boxing trainers and they taught him plenty of tricks of the trade.”

23 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Earnie Shavers – “The Puncher Of The Century” Turns 77”

  1. If you ever saw the Earnie Shavers/Ron Lyle fight, you saw one of the best, if not the best, heavyweight match of all time. They were simply amazing if not super human. Earnie Shavers, you left your mark in history.

    • I know Larry Holmes and I know honey shaffers talking to her in the Schaefer one day he told me to tell Larry he still feel that kidney shot and I told me to tell Ernie he still feel that headshot off of good fighters

  2. As a young man I had the opportunity to meet and take a picture with Ernie in my hometown of Massillon, Ohio at the Massillon Youth Center.
    Boy did we enjoy him training and after that he took pictures with us.
    Happy Birthday and thank you the memories on a warm summer day!
    Marion V Perkins

  3. Happy Birthday,Mr.Shavers.I enjoyed watching you fight,back in the golden age of boxing.You were a banger,and a fine sportsman.

    • Earnie wasn’t trained right for a long time. When was he did well. He was ducked by a few. Frazer and Foreman wanted no part of him. And he never really got good chances until in his 30s. His left hook was underestimated. Lyle, Smith and Norton felt it immensely. Happy Birthday Earnie. Keep on punching.

  4. I’ve had many favorites in many classes-Duran,Argeulo,Hauler. But none I wanted to see be Champ more than Ernie.
    My brother drove(30 miles) to see the fight and pulled in at the bell; it was over before he made the front door.
    I never worried if Ernie gave his all; that was for his poor opponent to do!
    Class act; no showboating crap like we see today. Didn’t need to; he had the hammer!

  5. It’s an honor to wish you a Happy Birthday and thankyou for the great fights we still enjoy today.

  6. Money shavers and one hell of a right hand I think he dropped holmes didn’t he so his champion for about 7 seconds then

    • Hi Mr Shavers…”Happy Birthday “…..I’m 12 years behind you…so I was a kid approaching teen years…..I watched all the big fights during boxing’s golden years…..You are the best…..you wanted to fight ALL the best…but…ALL didn’t want to fight You……….You Are a True “World Champion”….

  7. Shaver’s fight v Ali should have been Ali’s last. But closing the show on a high note, gave Ali a reason to keep fighting. He took way too many punches after that. Ali had a big payroll, and didn’t want to lay people off. As big a punch Ali had, his heart was bigger.

  8. Happy Birthday Mr Shavers, I remember as a teenager seeing you with your manager Dean Chance at the Red Pepper Steak house, where they held matches in the back.

  9. Thank you Mr. Shavers for all your hard work and inspiration you provided to those who had the privilege of seeing you work. Happy Healthy Birthday

  10. Ernie Shavers was one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet. Also ranked along side Mike Tyson and George Foreman as the three hardest punchers boxing ever had.

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