Larry Holmes will go down as one of the greatest heavyweights of all time having shared the ring with some of the most legendary names in the sport’s history.
Holmes was world champion between 1978 to 1983 and faced the likes of Muhammad Ali, Ken Norton, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield.
The now 74-year-old won the WBC title by defeating Ken Norton by split decision, and would go on to successfully defend it twenty times in a row before coming up against Michael Spinks in 1985. In what was seen as a big upset at the time, Spinks won the fight by decision and would defeat Holmes the following year in their rematch.
‘The Easton Assassin’ briefly retired after his second loss to Spinks, but returned 21 months later in an attempt to dethrone the undisputed heavyweight champion at the time, Mike Tyson.
Tyson would emphatically win by knockout out in the fourth round, in a fight ‘Iron’ Mike always claimed was revenge for Holmes defeating his hero, Ali.
Tyson was undoubtedly one of the most feared punchers in the division’s history, but when asked by Boxing News if he was the hardest hitter he had ever faced, Holmes says one man stands alone.
“Earnie Shavers, no doubt about it. He could knock the hell out of you!”
Holmes beat Shavers twice, once in 1978 by decision and then five fights later in 1979 by knockout, in what were both bruising back and forth affairs.
Despite only being a world title challenger on two occasions and not winning either, Shavers is widely regarded as one of the hardest hitters the heavyweight division has ever seen. In his own campaign, he had an incredible 70 knockouts from 76 wins. His 90-fight career ended in 1995 with a loss to Brian Yates.
After several comeback attempts Holmes eventually retired in 2002 at the age of 52.