Larry Holmes vs. David Bey

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Holmes throws a left at Bey

1985-03-15 : Larry Holmes 223½ lbs beat David Bey 233¼ lbs by TKO at 2:58 in round 10 of 15


  • Holmes was a 4-1 betting favorite.
  • The undefeated Bey earned his title shot by beating Greg Page by a 12-round unanimous decision to win the USBA title on August 31, 1984. In his next fight, Page won the WBA title.

From Sports Illustrated:

For four rounds, Holmes patiently let his eager rival roll the dice. Bey went for it all early, the one big punch that would make him a winner in the city of losers. Late in the second round, with Holmes mesmerized by the right-hand freight trains thundering past his head, Bey rocked the champion with a short snapping hook. A shudder surged through Holmes' 223-pound body. A second hook caught him high on the chest. "He got my attention," Holmes would say later. "But you know me, when I get hurt, I just say, 'Hey, let's dance some.'"

Bey's moment had passed. When he finally caught up to Holmes, he was met by clear eyes and a head-snapping jab.

After four rounds, Eddie Futch, who has been around boxing almost as long as sweat has, had solved Bey's awkward wild style. As Holmes sat in his corner, his little trainer leaned over and said: "Quit countering. Get off first: then, when he counters, you counter his counter. You can't give him room. He needs it to punch. You got to go to him. Snap that jab. Stay on top of him."

In the fifth, Holmes turned it into an honest fistfight, and Bey began backing away, pawing with the left hand while gluing his right glove against his chin. Holmes turned back the clock: his jab became the expected jackhammer: his right cross was strong and cruel. The champion's expression was intense.

In the eighth, Holmes snapped off two jabs, took a small step to his right and exploded a straight right to the side of Bey's head. A quick hook caught Bey in the back of the head as he was falling. Bey got up, only to run into a savage onslaught that drove him across the ring and dropped him to his left knee, his left arm hooked around one of the ropes. Bey took a second count of eight, but as Holmes moved in, the bell stopped him.

Holmes battered his confused quarry in the ninth, and in the 10th, he came out hard, figuring Bey had earned his $130,000. With 30 seconds to go, he drove Bey into a corner, again made that little step and crossed with a hard right. All but out, Bey staggered backward across the ring, only to be trapped in the far corner, where Holmes hammered him at will until Referee Padilla wisely stepped in.

"That's it," Holmes said after he earned $1.525 million in raising his record to 47-0. He had been saying for weeks that Bey would be his 18th and final title defense. However, he has given the world's promoters until June 9—the seventh anniversary of his 15-round decision over Ken Norton, which won him the WBC title—to come up with enough gold to change his course.

"I want a lot of money and no more of those big hitters like Tim Witherspoon and Mike Weaver," said Holmes, narrowing the field to almost nobody. "I've paid my dues, and if they want me back, they've got to give me little people I can beat on without getting hurt."

The 35-year-old champion suggested that $3 million would entice him out of his rocking chair in Easton, Pa. to fight Michael Spinks, the light heavyweight champion. And, grinning, he said, "Only $2 million for either Tommy Hearns or Marvin Hagler."


"The Lord of The Ring" by Pat Putnam, Sports Illustrated, March 25, 1985