Well, that was a s**t night. I had lots of good nights, but that was a s**t night,” Earnie Shavers on his 1973 fight with Jerry Quarry
Today in 1973 at Madison Square Garden in New York, heavyweight contenders Jerry Quarry and Earnie Shavers met in an important bout, one the winner hoped would lead to a shot at the world title that was currently held by George Foreman. Quarry, a tough guy who also had skills, fast hands and good counter-punching ability, had been in with the best: Muhamad Ali (twice), Floyd Patterson (also twice), Jimmy Ellis, George Chuvalo and Joe Frazier.
Shavers, a year older but not as seasoned or experienced as Quarry, was promoter Don King’s first big-name heavy and Earnie had made a name for himself as a brutal puncher. Coming off impressive KO wins over Jimmy Young and common opponent Jimmy Ellis (who Shavers iced in a round that June, Jimmy managing a points win over Quarry back in 1968), Shavers was on his way.
But Quarry, despite being almost 60 fights into his career, was not a faded force by any means. Instead, the big punching Shavers was taken out by a tidy piece of punching prowess that he himself had grown accustomed to administering. The fight – watched in person by Ali, Foreman and Frazier (who all got in the ring and hyped up future confrontations between the trio) – was all over after less than three-minutes.
Quarry, who had said before the fight that if Shavers came right at him it would make the fight “easy,” caught Shavers with a number of sharp and accurate shots, hurting and dazing his man. Shavers escaped to a corner but he was soon tagged by a big left and a right to the head, sending him down. Shavers managed to beat the count, but referee Arthur Mercante had seen enough just a few seconds later, stopping the fight.
It was a great win for Quarry and the ever-popular warrior from California went on to get big fights with Frazier (in a non-title return) and Ken Norton, in an NABF title fight. Quarry, though, had fought his last great fight against Shavers, being stopped by both Frazier and Norton. Quarry fought sporadically until 1983, and then, shockingly, was allowed to fight in 1992 at the age of 47, being beaten by Ron Cramner in possibly the most criminal heavyweight fight of all-time. Sadly, Jerry was already suffering from brain damage; his later years not in any way pleasant for he or his family and friends.
Shavers regrouped, then lost to Bob Stallings, drew with Young in a return, then lost to Ron Lyle (in an epic slugfest), before getting a shot at Ali’s world title in 1977. Earnie surprised many by going the full 15-rounds with Ali, shaking him up on numerous occasions. Shavers also came close to beating Ali’s successor, Holmes, who he decked heavily in a 1979 title shot, before being stopped late. Like Quarry, Shavers boxed on too long, finally retiring in 1983 – only to make comebacks in 1987 and in 1995!
Thankfully, Shavers is today in good health, being able to talk about and look back on his thrilling career.
Quarry’s final ring record reads 53-9-4(32). Shavers’ final record reads an incredible 74-14-1(68).