Larry Holmes vs. Earnie Shavers (1st meeting)

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1978-03-25 : Larry Holmes 210 lbs beat Earnie Shavers 210 lbs by UD in round 12 of 12

From Sports Illustrated:

No one can remember when the whispers first began, questioning the size of Holmes' courage. As a matter of fact, when pressed, no critic could say why the question was asked. Mostly it was: Who has Holmes ever fought? Let him fight someone tough, then we'll see if he has a ticker.

Finally, last February, Don King, the promoter, asked, "Do you think Earnie Shavers is tough enough?"

"Beautiful," said Larry Holmes.

The match was made, a 12-rounder at Caesars Palace, nationally telecast over ABC. It was billed as an elimination bout for heavyweight title contenders—Shavers No. 3 and Holmes No. 4—with the winner meeting Kenny Norton, the newly ordained WBC champion.

With so much at stake, Richie Giachetti, Holmes' manager and trainer, temporarily had imported Ray Arcel and Freddy Brown, the 148-year-old training team, from New York.

By fight time Holmes was so eager to get into action that he was trembling. He came out eagerly, but under full control. His jab flickered like a snake—four, then three, then four. Obviously tight, Shavers stalked him, powerful fists at the ready, blinking at the rain of jabs.

Midway through the first round Giachetti yelled at Arcel, "How's he look?"

"He's beautiful," Arcel screamed. "He's just beautiful."

Moments into the second round, the seat of Holmes' red trunks split. "Oh my God," Giachetti said, and ordered someone to run and get another pair from the dressing room. Then he turned back to the action. Something more important than split pants was happening. Near the end of the round came the moment everyone had been waiting for. Lunging, Shavers smashed Holmes with a thunderous right to the head. Backed up a step, Holmes shook his head, then cracked Shavers in the face with a left and a right. From that moment, every time Shavers hit Holmes with anything heavy, he took a murderous barrage in return. End of question about the ticker.

By the fourth round Holmes was in a new pair of trunks, and by the sixth he appeared to be in command of a tiring Shavers. But early in the sixth Shavers backed Holmes into a corner and began working to the body with both hands.

Across the ring Giachetti and Arcel and Brown were shouting in unison, "Get out of there! Get out!" Above all else, they had warned Holmes about getting pinned in a corner. Holmes looked at his handlers with a slight smile and shook his head, no. He was giving his sparring partner his best shot, and it wasn't bothering him one bit. And from that point on it was Holmes doing what he wanted, Shavers trying desperately for the one big punch to end it. And at the end it was Holmes who almost found the big punch.

The fight was in the final seconds and Holmes, refusing to coast although he knew he was ahead by a ton of points, caught Shavers with a smashing overhand right to the jaw. Stunned, Shavers almost went down. He recovered just before his right knee touched the floor. With a snarl, Holmes was all over him, ripping him with a barrage of nine straight punches before the bell ended the fight.

The scoring was anticlimactic. Judges Harold Buck and Joe Swessel had given Holmes every round and scored it 120-108. Judge Dave Moretti awarded Shavers the 10th round, which cut Holmes' margin to 119-109.

Article

"He Really Could Put His Heart Into It" by Pat Putnam, Sports Illustrated, April 3, 1978