Larry Holmes vs. Ray Mercer
1992-02-07 : Larry Holmes 233 lbs beat Ray Mercer 228¾ lbs by UD in round 12 of 12
- Location: Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA
- Referee: Steve Smoger
- Judge: Phil Newman 117-112
- Judge: Eugene Grant 117-111
- Judge: John Poturaj 115-113
- In 1991, unbeaten 1988 Olympic gold medalist Ray Mercer won the World Boxing Organization heavyweight title with a 9th-round knockout of Francesco Damiani (27-0) and defended it with a 5th-round knockout of Tommy Morrison (28-0). Mercer relinquished the title to fight Holmes instead of #1 contender Michael Moorer (25-0).
- Mercer was a 4-1 favorite.
Holmes Defeats Mercer by Decision
By Phil Berger, New York Times, February 8, 1992
Life begins at 42.
It did for Larry Holmes tonight. He outslicked Ray Mercer over 12 rounds to win a convincing unanimous decision at the Convention Center.
All three judges -- Phil Newman (117-112), Eugene Grant (117-111) and John Poturag (115-113) -- gave the edge to Holmes, who has two grandchildren but also had more than enough guile and heart to beat Mercer.
"Too smart," said Newman afterward. "Larry did everything he wanted."
With his victory, Holmes is 54-3 with 37 knockouts. Mercer lost for the first time in 19 bouts.
"I'm back, world," shouted Holmes afterward. "Everybody says you got to lie down and die when you're 40. I proved you don't."
Holmes, 233 pounds, had a shaky first round as Mercer hit him with clubbing right hands early on and then sent him reeling across the ring with a jab. Holmes was stiff and tentative, and Mercer smiled derisively every time Holmes hit him.
Holmes landed several right leads in the second round, but Mercer still acted as though the punches had little or no effect.
Holmes continued to land early in the third while leaning against the ropes in a neutral corner. And Mercer continued to react with an indifferent expression.
By the fourth, Holmes was fighting while against the ropes. There or in center ring, Mercer was landing the better punches. Mercer, 228¾ pounds, mocked the former champion by pointing to the neutral corners, where Holmes was retreating.
In the fifth round, Holmes spent nearly the entire three minutes with his back against the ropes in a neutral corner. But he hit Mercer with some good shots and, while Mercer seemed unimpeded, he was not firing back with the frequency of earlier rounds.
Twice in the sixth, Holmes turned and spoke to the television camera while fighting out of Mercer's corner. The second time he wheeled and hit his opponent with punches. Mercer seemed bamboozled, unable to deal with Holmes's brand of rope-a-dope.
Holmes had a big seventh round, scoring with straight rights and right uppercuts and rousing the crowd to chant "Lar-ry, Lar-ry." Mercer was growing increasingly ineffective.
Mercer scored with a powerful left hook to Holmes's jaw in the eighth round, but Holmes withstood it. By now he was out of the corners and circling the ring.
Holmes was still circling in the ninth, scoring with his right hand. He landed a three-punch combination -- jab, jab and right -- that incited the crowd.
Holmes was beating Mercer to the punch in the 10th round, scoring with right leads. Mercer still could not figure out how to penetrate Holmes's unorthodox defense: Here the right hand extended, there a bit of footwork. And when in doubt, clinch.
By the 11th, the 30-year-old Mercer appeared to be more fatigued than Holmes. He was pawing with his jab, and the snap was gone from his punches. Holmes landed a good left hook before the bell sounded ending the round.
Holmes started the final round as the aggressor. But Mercer had him moving backward as he let fly with punches.
Holmes, of Easton, Pa., returned to boxing last year after a three-year absence from the ring. He won all five of his comeback fights in 1991, but they were against transparently inferior competition.