“Puncher of the Century” Earnie Shavers arrived on the world stage on this day back in 1973, as the not-yet-shaven-headed bomber took out former WBA heavyweight champ Jimmy Ellis inside a round. The two men, both going in different directions in their careers, met at Madison Square Garden in New York, and fans witnessed a short, explosive affair.
Ellis was 38-7 at the time of the fight, while Shavers was 44-2. In terms of KO wins, Shavers had a big edge, having scored 43 knockouts to Jimmy’s 21. But in terms of experience, former middleweight Ellis had a whopping, great edge over Earnie; Ellis having been in with them all: Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Floyd Patterson, Jerry Quarry, and Oscar Bonavena.
And for a few seconds, it looked as though 33-year-old Ellis would have too much for the 28-year-old Shavers. A right hand stunned Shavers and Ellis went to work with his fast hands, Jimmy driving Shavers back and blazing away with both hands.
But then, in a quick turnaround, Shavers launched and landed a shotgun blast of a right uppercut. The bomb thudded into Ellis’ head, and down he went, first onto his back, then into a sitting position, with the badly stricken fighter ending up on his side.
Ellis tried his best to get up, but his equilibrium had been violently blasted into smithereens, and his arms and legs would not obey him and try ad he might he could not beat the count.
Shavers had picked up the biggest win of his career at the time after 2:39 of action. Now a big player in the division, Shavers would fall victim to a first round KO defeat himself in his very next outing, when common opponent Jerry Quarry took him out inside the very same arena in which “The Acorn” had crushed Ellis.
And this was sort of the way Shavers’ career would run: either he got his man, or he himself got KO’d or stopped. Shavers is deservedly ranked as one of the single hardest punchers in boxing history, yet it’s quite frighting to think how utterly lethal he would have been had he been blessed with a granite chin to go with his awesome punching power.
Ellis was the first high-profile opponent Shavers iced in a single round, but in total, Earnie would score an amazing 23 first-round knockouts. What a pure puncher he was.