It’s a sad thing that gifted heavyweight Carl Williams is best known among fight fans for his 93-second blitzing at the hands of Mike Tyson. Williams, tall, athletic and in possession of one of the best-left jabs in heavyweight history, was far better than that. Case in point, the terrific effort “The Truth,” as Williams was known, gave when he fought heavyweight great Larry Holmes on this day back in 1985.
Williams pushed the aging but still reigning Holmes hard all the way, for 15 long rounds. How special was Williams’ left jab? Good enough to go up against Holmes’ jab, that’s how special. At times during the long and hard fight, Williams was able to out-jab Holmes, and that’s really saying something. Williams, who was just 16-0 at the time of the Holmes fight, also hit Larry with enough power punches to send Holmes to the doctor; the champ’s left eye swollen badly.
“That’s the most punishment Larry’s taken since I’ve been with him,” trainer Eddie Futch, who had been with Holmes since 1981, said after the fight held in Reno, Nevada. Holmes was the winner – wide on two cards at 146-139, but razor-thin on the third card at 143-142 – and he was now 48-0. That meant one thing: Holmes was oh, so close to matching the 49-0 record of the beloved Rocky Marciano; this perfect record the holy grail of heavyweight boxing.
But Holmes was a tired fighter by now. Tough battles with good up and coming fighters such as Tim Witherspoon, Renaldo Snipes and now Williams had caught up with him. Could Holmes win one more, two more? If he could manage a further two victories, Marciano’s ledger would be topped.
As we all know, Holmes, bitterly disappointed and screaming robbery, fell short as he was decisioned by Michael Spinks in his next fight after scraping past Williams. This time, the judges had not willing to be kind to Holmes.
As for “The Truth,” he received plenty of deserved praise for his fine effort against Holmes, with many fans and experts feeling he was a future champion. Instead, Williams had to make do with being a USBA champ. After the Holmes fight, Williams, still only 26 years of age, beat Jessie Ferguson but was then stopped in a couple of rounds by Mike Weaver. Six fights later, Williams was stopped in a round by Tyson and his career never recovered – his most notable fights being losses to Witherspoon, Tommy Morrison and Frank Bruno.
Sadly, Williams died at the young age of just 53 in 2013, Carl passing due to esophageal cancer.
But on the night of May 20 in 1985, Williams fought the fight of his life, at the same time giving one of the greatest heavyweights in history one of the toughest fights of his entire career.