Now that we’ve (hopefully) seen the end of any and all quite silly and disrespectful talk of Tyson Fury being one of the greatest heavyweights ever, some even going even further off the deep end in claiming Fury is THE greatest ever, let’s turn our attention to a man who without a doubt deserves to be very much in the conversation when it comes to all things great at heavyweight. Larry Holmes – who was there in Riyadh to see current WBC heavyweight champ Fury labour monstrously with an MMA fighter who was having his pro boxing debut – today turns 74, and the former long-reigning heavyweight king must have been aghast at what he was watching in Saudi Arabia.
Holmes, who cleaned out the division back in his day, “The Easton Assassin” doing a job on each and every worthy contender over a period of seven years, never had the opportunity to pick up something like a $50million bundle for a fight with a boxing debutant. This was just not the way things were in Larry’s day. But if he had boxed a guy like Ngannou, Holmes, and let’s go ahead and say it, would have taken him to school; as Holmes would have done to Fury if he’d fought him. The October 28 fight might not have seen Fury at his best, but the hellish time the self-proclaimed, ‘greatest fighter ever born from his mother,’ had sure put things in perspective. Even when he was subpar (Holmes having lost a lost of weight due to illness ahead of his war with Mike Weaver, Holmes being past his best when he twice came oh, so close to beating Michael Spinks), Holmes fought well. As for Holmes at his best, well, he would have cleaned up the division today, and he would have done it far quicker and with a whole lot less effort than it took him across the years 1978 to 1985.
Holmes is a perfect example of a fighter who only got his just due, his full respect, after he’d retired. It’s a lesson we should all learn: never judge a fighter, any fighter, until they have fought their last fight. Only then can we properly judge their full body of work and decide on their place among the greats. Holmes, under Muhammad Ali’s shadow in his championship years, has his just due today. We look back, and we see how special Holmes was. Holmes took on all comers, Holmes had longevity, Larry had a supernatural chin/set of recuperative powers, Holmes had power, and of course, Holmes had one of the finest left jabs in boxing history.
No wonder Holmes is not at all impressed with today’s heavyweight division.
“It’s not good. I would rather watch soap operas,” Holmes told Radio Rahim after the Fury-Ngannou affair.
Thankfully, we current boxing fans can, any time we want, go back and look at some of Holme’s epic fights via YouTube. Watching Holmes at his best (see his absolute classic with Ken Norton, his up-from-the-canvas win over the fearsome Earnie Shavers, his breaking down of the dangerous and heavy-handed Gerry Cooney) is a joy for we fans. While seeing Holmes at his best must be enough for today’s best big men to thank their lucky stars Holmes is not fighting today!
Larry Holmes – WBC heavyweight champ from September 1978 to September 1985. IBF heavyweight champ from December of 1983 to September of 1985. Pro record: 69-6(44). Stopped just once, this when an ageing and ring-rusty Holmes fought Mike Tyson.