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Larry Holmes; genuine all-time top five Heavyweight, or the right place at the right time?

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Larry Holmes; genuine all-time top five Heavyweight, or the right place at the right time? Empty Larry Holmes; genuine all-time top five Heavyweight, or the right place at the right time?

Post by 88Chris05 Tue 26 Jul 2011, 1:26 pm

Afternoon everyone, hope all is well in the world with you.

I’m a big admirer of Larry Holmes, in spite of that mouth of his. He was, by a considerable distance, the dominant force in Heavyweight boxing between the eras of Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, the two most famous Heavyweights to have graced boxing since Jack Dempsey encapsulated the spirit of the roaring twenties. Holmes, as you all know, had one of the best jabs in Heavyweight history, one hell of a right cross, a heart as big as any of his predecessors or successors and great powers of recovery, which he needed to bail him out of one or two sticky patches over his seven year and twenty defence WBC and later IBF title tenures between 1978 and 1985. He’s often complained that he never gets the credit he deserves, yet most sincere boxing fans do see his true worth; I know that many amongst us on 606v2 have him inside the top five Heavyweights of all time, and I myself have him at number four.

But for whatever reason, I’ve started to wonder just a little if such rankings are a result of people effectively trying to over-compensate for the perceived lack of kudos Holmes got during his own time, rather than them being a true reflection of his ability and merits. I think we’ve seen it before with one or two fighters; Mike McCallum slid under the radar a little in his heyday, but as the years have gone on people have come to appreciate his true worth. However, when you hear outlandish claims such as ‘Hagler and Ray Leonard ran for their lives at the thought of facing McCallum’, you can’t help but wonder if people are going over the top and are a little too keen to make up for that perceived lack of respect for ‘The Bodysnatcher’ in the eighties and nineties. While I’m in no doubt that Holmes was a magnificent fighter, I’m starting to wonder if something similar is afoot.

Let’s get the pros out of the way. Holmes lifted the WBC title from Ken Norton in a superb fifteen-rounder in 1978. He made sixteen defences of the crown, including a highly publicized bout with the ‘great white hope’ Gerry Cooney, a thrilling ‘off the deck’ win over the fearsome-punching Earnie Shavers, and a disputed points win over future WBC and WBA champion Tim Witherspoon. Holmes also defeated Trevor Berbick, Mike Weaver and James ‘Bonecrusher’ Smith who all, like Witherspoon, went on to pick up a world title, though none of them established themselves as top quality or dominant champions. In 1983, Holmes relinquished the WBC strap to accept recognition from the newly-formed IBF and, after a further three defences, lost a controversial verdict to Light-Heavyweight champion Mike Spinks, who repeated the trick in a rematch. With nineteen / twenty (one took place with no organizational belts but still the lineal title on the line) defences of his crowns, wins over future belt holders and some memorable bouts under his belt, Holmes looks well worth a top five spot from the outset.

But let’s look a little deeper. What was Holmes’ best win? Ken Norton? Norton was a fine fighter in his own right, but was almost thirty-three by the time he fought Holmes. He’d also been demolished by Foreman, had the same thing happen to him again soon after his WBC tenure against Shavers, and in general did little after the Holmes fight before his career wound down. Norton’s name and reputation, to be honest, hinge on being a bogey man to Muhammad Ali, and while he was an impressive fighter, his shortcomings against Foreman and Shavers, as well as his generally poor record at the very highest level, show that while this was a good win for Holmes, it was hardly a great one. And let’s not forget that it was a bout which could have gone either way, though I did score it 143-142 to Holmes.

Earnie Shavers? A phenomenal puncher he may have been, but a truly great fighter he was not. Without going in to much detail, Shavers’ record at world level was patchy to say the least, and again it’s not impossible that he may have been slightly past his very best by the time Holmes defeated him, too. Again, his two wins over Shavers are impressive, but truly great?

Outside of that, we have the aforementioned Witherspoon, Berbick, Weaver and Smith. Granted, they all claimed belts after Holmes beat them. But Shannon Briggs, Frank Bruno, Vitali Klitschko and Evander Holyfield all did the same after Lennox Lewis beat them, too. Seldom do I see this used as a mark of greatness for Lewis, and truth be told, that latter group probably represents a better collective quality than the former one.

Also, should Holmes’ inability / reluctance to unify with the WBA between 1978 and 1983 (the latter being the last year of the two belt system) count against him? There’s no doubting that boxing politics and the general apathy towards the increasing number of titles over the years have resulted in unification bouts becoming less significant and common, but still, many of Holmes’ successors – Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko – have gone to the trouble of unifying, and as such you’d have to wonder why Holmes didn’t do the same? Instead, he went with the embryonic IBF, only helping to shroud the Heavyweight division in even more uncertainty.

And finally, we can’t ignore the fact that Holmes was the first Heavyweight champion to lose his title to a 175 lb champion moving up. Granted, there is a very real argument that Holmes’ powers were on the wane by 1985 when he lost to Spinks, but even so, Tommy Burns, Jack Dempsey, Primo Carnera, Joe Louis, Ezzard Charles, Rocky Marciano, Floyd Patterson and Joe Frazier all turned away the 175 lb men who came to challenge for their crown, whereas Holmes failed to. Of course, Tunney usurped Dempsey, but this was a Dempsey who was no more than 190 lb in his pomp anyway, and had been inactive for three years.

Also, I’d question how well Holmes matches up with some of the other Heavyweight greats. He’s insisted practically all his life that George Foreman wanted no part of him, and many seem to think that he’d have had Big George’s number. However, I look at Holmes’ victory over Norton and find myself thinking that he wouldn’t have lasted to the mid way stages against Foreman fighting like that. His lapses in concentration (Snipes, Shavers II) and sometimes lackadaisical performances (Witherspoon, Weaver) mean that I’d fully expect him to pick up losses against the top men of the Heavyweight ‘golden era’ of c. 1964-c.1975, which begs the question – would we even be talking about Holmes as being ‘great’ at all had he been born ten years earlier?

So combined, where does this leave Holmes? As I said, I have no doubt that he was a superb fighter, a fine champion and a great Heavyweight. But is he really of the elite level? Is he really comparable to the Muhammad Ali’s, the Joe Louis’ and the Jim Jeffries’? Does he really deserve to outrank Foreman, who is the closest thing to a rival you can get without the pair in question actually fighting? Until now, I’d have said yes to all of them, and have always found myself placing Holmes at number four on my all-time Heavyweight list. Now, I’m starting to wonder if I’ve been a little too kind in that respect, and have a feeling that maybe he should be slid down a few places.

What do you reckon? Sorry to go on so long, but as you can see, there are a few elements to consider! Cheers lads.
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Post by HumanWindmill Tue 26 Jul 2011, 1:44 pm

No apology required for the length of the ( excellent ) article, Chris. Holmes represents a very complicated subject.

LRR used to say that Holmes was ' the most over under appreciated fighter in history, ' which was a most succinct way of addressing your opening points. Little doubt that Holmes, like Liston and, perhaps Jack Sharkey, did suffer neglect while he was at his very best, and that it took a while for fans and critics alike to pay him his dues. However, I believe that LRR hit the nail squarely on the head, and that today Holmes is all too often described as the ' most under rated ' heavyweight in history, when surely men such as Jeffries would be more worthy of the accolade.

Holmes is an absolute nailed on certainty for the top ten heavies, in my opinion, but I'm not entirely persuaded that he is an automatic member of the top five. There are a couple or three names missing from his ledger and, as you pointed out, he never attempted to unify the title. In addition, he got out of jail against Witherspoon, courtesy of a tight decision, and both Weaver and Shavers, courtesy of phenomenal recuperative powers and, in the case of Weaver, a tremendous uppercut from nowhere. This, of course, is open to interpretation ; do we give him props for weathering a storm, or do we question the reasons he found himself in trouble in the first place ? Difficult to decide, but I'm inclined toward somewhere between the two.

Little doubt that, overall, Holmes' considerable abilities and longevity outweigh the negatives, and he might even yet be a top five heavy, but I'd see him behind Foreman, for example, and when we add in the inevitable Ali and Louis I find Holmes slugging it out with two or three candidates who have very good credentials for a top five berth.

Anywhere between five and nine, for me, depending on the day and the mood.

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Post by Rowley Tue 26 Jul 2011, 1:49 pm

Is an excellent article and question Chris and one I have and continue to wrestle with myself because I am sure like yourself and countless others outside the inevitable top two I can see arguments for moving pretty much all the other top ten regulars up and down the table. Johnson is a particular bette noir for me.

However with Holmes I do tend to have him in the top five or six and more often than not I content for that to remain the case. The thing that is often overlooked for me with Larry is the era he fought in, not in terms of strength but more in terms of how all encompassing Don King's influence and questionable business practices were at the time. Having read the King biography (reviewed on review section) would not be an exaggeration to suggest these practices had a massive influence in a whole number of quality heavyweights falling into cocaine use and poor training. That King never once succumbed to such distractions speaks incredibly well of his dedication and will to achieve.

Whilst I agree his record does not crackle with quality during his reign the same is true of so many other heavies outside a couple and so I cannot downgrade him too much for that. However as you have rightly said losing the title to a light heavy all be it in a close affair has to hurt him because traditionally top tier heavies have normally repelled light heavies, even great ones such as Conn, Moore and Foster, even if not always at a canter.

However I can only consider Larry along side those who could challenge him for a place in the top five or six and I still think his longevity, dedication and focus warrant his place in that sort of bracket but can an do fully understand your quandary.

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Post by Union Cane Tue 26 Jul 2011, 1:50 pm

I think you summed it up right at the beginning there, he is seen by many as simply having kept the title warm for Ali before passing it on to the next 'big thing', Mike Tyson.

Undoubtedly a quality operator, but suffers from the fact that you can only beat what is put in front of you, and the quality that was available for him to face wasn't the greatest. Similar in many ways to Wlad Klitschko.

I also must say that he goes down in my estimation for having been put on his backside by Eric 'Butterbean' Esch.
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Post by Scottrf Tue 26 Jul 2011, 1:51 pm

Wasn't a knockdown.

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Post by Union Cane Tue 26 Jul 2011, 1:55 pm

Scottrf wrote:Wasn't a knockdown.

Yeah, and Lampard scored against Germany.

He received a count, so it was a knockdown.

Surely?
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Post by 88Chris05 Tue 26 Jul 2011, 1:56 pm

Given that Holmes was more washed up than a bottle on the beach by that stage, I think we can just about let that one slip, Union!

Thanks for the contributions so far, fellas. Should stress that Holmes is still very much an autopmatic top eight man to me, but have just been wondering lately if my previous fourth spot - which I may revise - was a little kind. I think it's possible that he's talked so much over the years about how he's been mistreated and undervalued that some people may subconsciously bump him up a place or two higher than he really should be, though that is pure speculation on my part. Can still fully see why people would have him fourth / fifth, and when all's been considered I may stick with that view myself, but I've recently just come to the conclusion that if he does deserve such a high berth, it's not by as comfortable a margin as I first thought.
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Post by Imperial Ghosty Tue 26 Jul 2011, 1:59 pm

Have said it all along that he gets a free pass for the Spinks losses which albeit close weren't clearcut victories for Holmes, looking at the other fighters who are often included in the top ten then there's only Louis and Dempsey who also lost to light heavyweights. In their cases they didn't hold such big size and weight advantages over greater fighters than Spinks in Charles and Tunney which leads me to excuse those losses to a degree. Marciano for instance gets a bad press for fighting blown up light heavyweights but the difference is he beat them, had some scary moments along the way but put the victory beyond doubt.

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Post by Union Cane Tue 26 Jul 2011, 1:59 pm

88Chris05 wrote:Given that Holmes was more washed up than a bottle on the beach by that stage, I think we can just about let that one slip, Union!

Holmes himself claims that he should be higher than Ali in any heavyweight list due to having beaten him, so it must be fair to apply the same principle?
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Post by licence_007 Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:03 pm

Just thought I'd raise it, how can Larry Holmes, with his CV lacking as it is, be a nailed on top 10, when Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko are lucky to be considered top 20 by many people?

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Post by Imperial Ghosty Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:04 pm

His CV is immeasurably more impressive than either of the Klitschkos

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Post by 88Chris05 Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:06 pm

Union Cane wrote:
88Chris05 wrote:Given that Holmes was more washed up than a bottle on the beach by that stage, I think we can just about let that one slip, Union!

Holmes himself claims that he should be higher than Ali in any heavyweight list due to having beaten him, so it must be fair to apply the same principle?

Ha ha, Holmes has said a lot of things Union, as we all know! Larry loves him some Larry. For instance...

"They called Ali an 'old man' when I fought him. Well, he was only thirty-eight years old. Old man? I fought on until I was fifty-two!"
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Post by Daz Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:09 pm

Great article as ever Chris - nothing to add really but was a very good read. You should be writing professionally.

Never warmed to Holmes due to his amazing level of bitterness and that ridiculous statement that Union refers to about how he should be higher than Ali in the ATG list.

Was happy when Tyson flattened him.


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Post by Super D Boon Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:12 pm

The IBF paid him shed loads to deal on their title and Holmes was happy enough earning his millions through it.

Tend to think money rather than legacy was most important to Larry Holmes and can't help think he lit the touchpaper for the multitude of "world titles" that are around these days.

Still a top 10er though.

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Post by Rowley Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:12 pm

Daz based on your post I would seriously advise you never to read Holmes' biography, is a good read but dear god it's bitter, it nigh on seaps off every page. He moans about how long it took him to get a title shot but he got it after something like five years and 28 fights which seems about right. Is so hard to understand, he is a Hall of Famer (by any standards) is regularly in top ten heavyweight lists and got out of the game with both his health and bank balance intact, given that think he has more to be happy with but you'd struggle to know it to read his book.

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:16 pm

Imperial Ghosty wrote:His CV is immeasurably more impressive than either of the Klitschkos

Agree with this. No comparison for me. Not a fault of either Klitschko, just a reflection on the division at the moment.

Cracking article Chris.

I have Holmes somewhere from 4 - 7 depending on my mood. I actually think he would match up well against most of the other obvious candidates for the top 10. Technically excellent, great powers of recovery and enough in his punches to earn respect from anyone. There are obviously parts of his record that can be questioned, but hell, there are not many records that can't be pulled apart if you try hard enough.

He has enough quality on his record, longevity and technical excellence to be considered a true great for me.

Mind the windows Tino.
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Post by Rowley Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:17 pm

Super D, according to Larry's biography which obviously has to be taken with a pinch of salt towards the end of his career Larry wanted to promote a couple of his own fights, and when he told King this King spoke to Suleman who started to pressure him to take the fights King had lined up and threatened to strip him if he didn't. Larry considered this out of order based on how much he had paid the WBC in sanctioning fees and how well he had represented their belt as champion so told them to stick it, hence why he went with the IBF. As I say is only his side of the story, but given the relationship with King and Suleman might have some legs to it

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Post by Daz Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:19 pm

rowley wrote:Daz based on your post I would seriously advise you never to read Holmes' biography, is a good read but dear god it's bitter, it nigh on seaps off every page. He moans about how long it took him to get a title shot but he got it after something like five years and 28 fights which seems about right. Is so hard to understand, he is a Hall of Famer (by any standards) is regularly in top ten heavyweight lists and got out of the game with both his health and bank balance intact, given that think he has more to be happy with but you'd struggle to know it to read his book.

Thanks for the heads up Jeff - i will avoid it like the plague. Can't really stand him as it is, dont want to hate him instead! It will end up with me not rating him at all due to his personality, which is wrong i know but he comes across as a right plonker.

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Post by 88Chris05 Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:21 pm

Thanks Daz, glad you enjoyed the article. I think a lot of people would have shared your joy when Tyson put Holmes on his rear! As sad as it is to see that, Holmes did bring much of it on himself, as you alluded to.

With regards to Licence_007's point about why Holmes is seen as a nailed-on top ten man while the Klitschkos struggle for top twenty recognition, well first off - and it's probably the most vital point - Holmes established himself, for a considerable period, as very much the consensus number one Heavyweight on the planet. Given that Wladimir and Vitali will never square off, neither of them can fully lay claim to that particular honour. Wladimir may have the belts and title defences, but there's always been a suspicion that he may in fact be the 'weaker' of the pair, and there is evidence to back that up.

I'd also say that Holmes, though he wasn't perfect, has shown less vulnerability than Wladimir, and certainly had more dimensions to his game than Vitali. In short, he's simply a better technical boxer than the pair of them. And finally, while Holmes' opposition (like many other Heavyweights, in fairness) doesn't exactly look stellar at times, I'd still say that his wins over Norton and a focused and in-shape Witherspoon (who was a superb fighter on his day) are significantly better than any win on Wladimir or Vitali's records. In fact, Holmes returning while a long way past his own prime to become the first man to defeat Mercer might just be as good as any win the brothers have managed, though that's a bit more debatable.


Last edited by 88Chris05 on Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by 88Chris05 Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:25 pm

rowley wrote:Super D, according to Larry's biography which obviously has to be taken with a pinch of salt towards the end of his career Larry wanted to promote a couple of his own fights, and when he told King this King spoke to Suleman who started to pressure him to take the fights King had lined up and threatened to strip him if he didn't. Larry considered this out of order based on how much he had paid the WBC in sanctioning fees and how well he had represented their belt as champion so told them to stick it, hence why he went with the IBF. As I say is only his side of the story, but given the relationship with King and Suleman might have some legs to it

Perhaps a bit of 'The Boy who cried Wolf' here, Rowley, given Holmes' u-turn; after the Tyson fight, he said that had he won, he'd have immediately vacated the WBA and IBF belts and only represented the WBC, who as you say he'd fallen out with a few years previously. Apparently, by this time, he'd fallen out with the IBF now, as they knowingly cheated him against Spinks because they didn't want him to emulate Marciano's 49-0.

There's just no pleasing some people!
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Post by Union Cane Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:31 pm

"Rocky Marciano couldn't carry my jockstrap."
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Post by Rowley Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:39 pm

Sounds about right Chris, Holmes could fall out with his own shadow. Am laoth to criticise him too greatly because I genuinely suspect he trawls the internet looking for people who don't have him as number one heavyweight and other excuses to feel slighted.

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Post by Daz Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:45 pm

No worries Chris.

Although I am convinced you have a machine at home similar to the Matrix where you plug yourself in and download everything ever to do with Boxing from any era. It never ceases to amaze me how much you know without having to do massive amounts of research on a topic. Therefore I have come to the following possible conclusions:

1) You are actually 150 years old

2) You are a filthy rich person and spends all day reading and watching boxing

3) You work for RING magazine

4) You are a boxing robot

5) You are Slyvester Stallone

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Post by milkyboy Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:46 pm

good article chris.

Always amused me, LRR's loathing of holmes... Larry big pants is bitter, twisted and dingbats... you'd have thought him and rules would have hit it off over a glass of koolade.

You can pick holes in anyone's record, and Larry did have his shaky moments in some of his defences, but who hasn't? He came through them.

The deal with holmes is to rightly question all his achievements, put them in perspective and then see how many other fighters you can really put ahead of him. Do that objectively and in my opinion its hard not to have him top 5 and laughable to have him out of your 10.

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Post by Rowley Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:49 pm

Dazstarr wrote:No worries Chris.

Although I am convinced you have a machine at home similar to the Matrix where you plug yourself in and download everything ever to do with Boxing from any era. It never ceases to amaze me how much you know without having to do massive amounts of research on a topic. Therefore I have come to the following possible conclusions:

1) You are actually 150 years old

2) You are a filthy rich person and spends all day reading and watching boxing

3) You work for RING magazine

4) You are a boxing robot

5) You are Slyvester Stallone

It is suspect ain't it Daz, even more so as he claims to have a girlfriend!

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Post by 88Chris05 Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:50 pm

Though I'm flattered by those options (in a way, at least) Daz, I think the actual thruth is just that I'm a bit of a sad act and obsessive! And to link in a 'Holmesism', I couldn't carry Windy's, the captain's, Jimmy Stuart's, Rowley's or LRR's (and some others') jockstrap!
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Post by Imperial Ghosty Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:50 pm

Anyone looking in would think we're a bunch of virgins with a common love for fisting in the ring.

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Post by Rowley Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:50 pm

Milky have to think this thread would have taken a whole different direction was LRR still around, few comments about ol' Larry Big Pants and the like

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Post by Daz Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:52 pm

rowley wrote:
Dazstarr wrote:No worries Chris.

Although I am convinced you have a machine at home similar to the Matrix where you plug yourself in and download everything ever to do with Boxing from any era. It never ceases to amaze me how much you know without having to do massive amounts of research on a topic. Therefore I have come to the following possible conclusions:

1) You are actually 150 years old

2) You are a filthy rich person and spends all day reading and watching boxing

3) You work for RING magazine

4) You are a boxing robot

5) You are Slyvester Stallone

It is suspect ain't it Daz, even more so as he claims to have a girlfriend!

Ha! Rubbish. I dont believe that for a second. Unless her name is Adrian and she used to work at a Pet store.

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Post by Daz Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:52 pm

Imperial Ghosty wrote:Anyone looking in would think we're a bunch of virgins with a common love for fisting in the ring.

Laugh

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Post by milkyboy Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:55 pm

rowley wrote:Milky have to think this thread would have taken a whole different direction was LRR still around, few comments about ol' Larry Big Pants and the like

it would be incoherent diatribe after incoherent diatribe, occasionally interspersed with a nugget of wisdom and humour. He was a character i'll give him that

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Post by Rowley Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:57 pm

He was that, knew his stuff but there was no middle ground with him. His views on Johnson made me look tolerant towards Papa Jack.

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Post by jammin Tue 26 Jul 2011, 2:59 pm

Dazstarr wrote:
Imperial Ghosty wrote:Anyone looking in would think we're a bunch of virgins with a common love for fisting in the ring.

Laugh

An awkward laugh....

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Post by Daz Tue 26 Jul 2011, 3:01 pm

jammin wrote:
Dazstarr wrote:
Imperial Ghosty wrote:Anyone looking in would think we're a bunch of virgins with a common love for fisting in the ring.

Laugh

An awkward laugh....

Nothing wrong with fisting mate!

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Post by Super D Boon Tue 26 Jul 2011, 3:06 pm

Thanks Rowley I read Holmes' account of what happened to him and why he took the IBF route but as you are such a massive critic of the proliferation of world titles, do you think Holmes fighting for a nice shiny new red strap had a big influence the birth of a whole glut of so called world titles that we see today?

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Post by Rowley Tue 26 Jul 2011, 3:10 pm

Absolutely D, end of the day it is a cliche but one with some basis in truth that fighters make belts not the other way round so having the best heavyweight in the world wearing, promoting and defending its title is the kind of boon a fledgling governing body would have barely imagined.

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Post by Imperial Ghosty Tue 26 Jul 2011, 3:16 pm

Can't imagine it will be too long until the IBO is more recognised with some of the recent fighters who have held the belt.

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Post by Super D Boon Tue 26 Jul 2011, 3:18 pm

Glad you agree Rowley because a few more cheesed off officials of the WBA saw how big the IBF became and decided to play the same trick and form the WBO. Will have to inform Trussman that Larry Holmes is indirectly responsible for the formation of the WBO. Laugh

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Post by Super D Boon Tue 26 Jul 2011, 3:20 pm

Imperial Ghosty wrote:Can't imagine it will be too long until the IBO is more recognised with some of the recent fighters who have held the belt.

Didn't Brian Nielsen make a handsome living with that belt? Tarver, Green as well?

I can't stand 5 belts I'm okay with 4 but not blooming 5 big ones! 4 is a good number. There are 4 grand slams in tennis, 4 majors in Golf, 4 is a nice number but 5 is too much!

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Post by Colonial Lion Tue 26 Jul 2011, 3:29 pm

I would say that I pretty much fit the mould of the classic Holmes syndrome. Having been spoilt throughout the 60s and 70s with some real quality in the heavyweight division I was inclined back then to view the Holmes period as pretty weak, with Holmes being the clear best of a rather inconsistent and misfitted bunch of heavyweights who were a distinct notch down from the previous era. If I had known then how bad the division was going to get Im inclined to agree with Larry that I would have appreciated him alot more, bitterness or not!

I think it depends what road you go down in judging a fighter. I would tend to think Holmes, like Lewis gets a bit too much credit as a fighter that fares brilliantly against everyone else and would top a head to head poll. But if you are looking at purely his acheivement in the context of his era then its hard to place many fighters ahead of him on that kind of basis.

However timing is always critical in boxing and I would find it entirely plausible for example that if Holmes and someone like Frazier were swapped in eras that Frazier could have ended up dominating Holmes level of opposition while Holmes may well have gone on to suffer Fraziers kind of fate as being viewed as possibly only the third best heavyweight of his time. But thats the way the cookie crumbles as they say.

Outside of the top two guys in Louis and Ali, the margins are ultra fine between many of the rest. Personally I would have Foreman, Dempsey and Johnson ahead of Holmes but with only small differences between them.

I would agree that as time has passed that Holmes place in history only seems to grow and its probably now a bit of a stretch to call him underrated or even underappreciated. Fighters like Jeffries and Johnson seem to be suffering far more from this and nowadays its not unusual to seem them sliding quite far down peoples lists while Holmes is almost always top ten rated.

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Post by Imperial Ghosty Tue 26 Jul 2011, 3:29 pm

Wlad, Hatton, Pacquiao, Hearns, Mayweather, Lewis, Hopkins, Pascal, Tarver, Toney, Jones jr amongst a few others have held the IBO title

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Post by Super D Boon Tue 26 Jul 2011, 3:35 pm

Don't the IBO just recognise who the best in their view is, ie. they don't do silly politics like the other 4 who stupidly refuse to acknowledge each other's champions?

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Post by Imperial Ghosty Tue 26 Jul 2011, 3:37 pm

Their rankings are more realistic than the others are but not sure how they award their belts/

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Post by 88Chris05 Tue 26 Jul 2011, 3:48 pm

In fairness though, when Hatton was the IBO belt holder he modelled himself as a world champion with his Ring Belt, as did Hopkins and Tarver, I believe. And when the likes of Klitschko and Lewis have held it, it's always been behind a couple more 'respected' titles. But anyway, I'm sure most would agree that it's the fighter who makes the belt these days.
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Post by Atila Tue 26 Jul 2011, 5:00 pm

I always liked Holmes the person and as a fighter. He gets a lot of stick for his bitterness and for things he said but so what? I much prefer honesty and people being real than them trotting out cliched stuff like "I'm just a reet umble lad from a council estate". Part of Holmes' bitterness can be explained by the fact all during his reign, he had to constantly hear how he wasn't as good as Ali, wasn't as handsome as Ali, wasn't the personality that Ali was.

Holmes was a good fighter, I'd pick him to beat Frazier and Foreman. Foreman has a great story what with winning the title in his 40's, but head to head I think Holmes beats him.

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Post by licence_007 Tue 26 Jul 2011, 5:07 pm

88Chris05 wrote:Thanks Daz, glad you enjoyed the article. I think a lot of people would have shared your joy when Tyson put Holmes on his rear! As sad as it is to see that, Holmes did bring much of it on himself, as you alluded to.

With regards to Licence_007's point about why Holmes is seen as a nailed-on top ten man while the Klitschkos struggle for top twenty recognition, well first off - and it's probably the most vital point - Holmes established himself, for a considerable period, as very much the consensus number one Heavyweight on the planet. Given that Wladimir and Vitali will never square off, neither of them can fully lay claim to that particular honour. Wladimir may have the belts and title defences, but there's always been a suspicion that he may in fact be the 'weaker' of the pair, and there is evidence to back that up.

I'd also say that Holmes, though he wasn't perfect, has shown less vulnerability than Wladimir, and certainly had more dimensions to his game than Vitali. In short, he's simply a better technical boxer than the pair of them. And finally, while Holmes' opposition (like many other Heavyweights, in fairness) doesn't exactly look stellar at times, I'd still say that his wins over Norton and a focused and in-shape Witherspoon (who was a superb fighter on his day) are significantly better than any win on Wladimir or Vitali's records. In fact, Holmes returning while a long way past his own prime to become the first man to defeat Mercer might just be as good as any win the brothers have managed, though that's a bit more debatable.

Cheers for that Chris. Admittedly lacking in knowledge of Holmes' reign as champion and the heavyweight division at that time in general. I just thought I'd bring it up considering that Wlad has tried to unify and probably will when Vitali retires, and the fact that both seem to be kicking about in a not-so great era for heavyweight boxing. I guess the dominance point is pretty strong, yet for him to be nailed on top 10...I'm sorry but I just don't buy it too strongly. When boxers as good as Frazier are below him, despite operating in a much higher quality era and taking the belt off the Greatest, I find it hard to justify Holmes being above people like that.

I know it'll probably be a bit controversial saying that, but what did he do that was any better than someone like Marciano to deserve such high praise.

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Post by Imperial Ghosty Tue 26 Jul 2011, 5:10 pm

Always would have favoured Foreman to knock Holmes out myself, can never look past the second Shavers fights which if it was Foreman against him he wouldn't have been given a chance to recover.

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Post by Imperial Ghosty Tue 26 Jul 2011, 5:12 pm

Witherspoon, Norton, Weaver, Mercer and Shavers isn't a terrible list of fighters to have beaten in all honesty, each and everyone of them is better than anything either brother has beaten. I like Marciano but his actual world level longevity just isn't there to be ranked higher than Holmes.

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Post by licence_007 Tue 26 Jul 2011, 5:15 pm

Is it top 5 worthy though? Or even top 8?

These are pretty genuine questions since I know little about this era and some of those guys. I just can't help but think that when I look at that list, then see fighters like Lewis rated below him, that he gets a bit of an easy ride. Think I'm agreeing with the main post that he seems to maybe be overcompensated for the hard battle he got for recognition in the 80s.

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Post by Imperial Ghosty Tue 26 Jul 2011, 5:19 pm

It's more of a case of very few people deserving to be rated higher than him, he has to be above Lewis as he didn't lose to dross like Rahman or McCall during his prime years. He's easily top 8 at least, have him at 4/5 personally which I feel is a fair evaluation of him.

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