The Colonel rates Larry Holmes

By Ray Wheatley – World of Boxing

Holmes ColonelHall of Fame broadcaster “Colonel” Bob Sheridan talks to® about former world heavyweight champion Larry Holmes, whom he rates as the best he has seen.


“Larry Holmes and Muhammad Ali both at their very best. That would be a real tough fight for Muhammad because of Larry’s jab. Also Larry’s versatility. He got knocked out three times in fights but came back to win those fights against Renaldo Snipes in Pittsburg and then against Ernie Shavers in Las Vegas also Mike Weaver in Madison Square Garden especially against Snipes when he went down and his eyes were rolling back but he got up to beat Snipes and he got up to beat Shavers and he got up to beat Weaver. No other heavyweight has done that in the history of boxing. When they were not only knocked down but knocked out and came back to win the fight. Larry Holmes rates number one in my rating.

“I think he would beat any other heavyweight. The Klitschko brothers (Vitali and Wladimir) would probably cause him some problems and so would Lennox Lewis because Lennox was so powerful and obviously George Foreman would give Larry problems but he was such a good boxer he would box George’s ears off and do the same thing as Muhammad Ali did to him in Zaire and just box him and box him until Big George got exhausted and then he would knock him out.”


“Tyson Fury who holds the WBC title against Larry Holmes would be a good fight. Larry is the better boxer but Tyson has improved that much and is such a big hulk of a guy. Tyson Fury might have been a problem for Larry because of his size. He has got a decent jab also. Tyson is a stronger puncher than Larry but Holmes is a better boxer. That fight is a toss-up. I could see either winning that fight. That fight would have been beautiful if it could have happened in both their primes. Fury is in his prime right now and I think he beats anyone he fights now. Larry Holmes beats Anthony Joshua easily.


“The best heavyweight fight I’ve ever seen in my life for real drama was Larry Holmes against Ken Norton for the WBC heavyweight title. I had them dead even going into the fifteenth round and I was going nuts and Larry just barely eked him out. Ken Norton was another dangerous guy who could punch and in his prime could take a punch.


“Gerry Cooney was another great puncher who fought Larry in his prime. A story that never came out is that President Ronald Reagan at that time had a telephone in Cooney’s dressing room but he didn’t have one in Larry’s. If that would have got out at that time it would have been horrible politically. Cooney was the “ Great White Hope” who had a great punch but Larry just boxed his ears off. I knew that about the phone in Cooney’s trailer for the President but I couldn’t report it because it was too politically charged with black versus white. There was no phone in Larry’s trailer who was the reigning heavyweight champion of the world


“Larry’s jab was a real punch because technically he would have his back squared away and he would step up into his jab. His left jab was a punch. He knocked guys down and out with his jab.


“The greatest thing Larry had was the heart of a champion. The ability to be actually knocked out with eyes rolling back in his head and get off the canvas which he did somehow and against Snipes. That’s tremendous courage. That’s the thing that great champions have.

Ray Leonard had it. Tommy Hearns had it. Roberto Duran had it. Marvin Hagler had it. All those great champions had it. Oscar De La Hoya had it in his prime.

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  • The only boxer to stop Holmes was Tyson. Were Holmes in his prime it could have been different, but Tyson was at his relentless best in that fight.
    The never give up fight was Holmes vs Mercer. That was a something to watch when Larry won against the 18-0 Mercer in a close tough fight.

    • Tyson’s KO of Holmes was actually a really good win for Tyson I thought, even though Holmes was over the hill at the time. Keep in mind, Holmes beat Mercer 4 years after losing to Tyson, and he also gave Holyfield a pretty fight fight in going the distance with him. Always thought that was probably one of Tyson’s Top 5 wins.

    • What was weird about that fight was that Mercer seemed to be on his way in the first round to run Holmes out of the ring, But then Holmes just gave him a boxing lesson.

  • No war Holmes beat Ali in his prime he fact he learn most of his stuff from Ali look at his style he even fights like Ali I knew Mamby and that what he told me he was best friends with Holmes

  • Not only was Larry a master boxer his bravery and recuperative powers were astonishing. Although he lost to Tyson it was the best of Tyson and the worst of Homes and ‘on average’ I think Larry beats him. Guys like Lewis and the Klitschkos would give any of the greats a tough night but Larry still edges them in my view. I’m probably not overly impressed with Larry the person but Larry the fighter is a top 5 heavyweight all-time.

    • Yes, Holmes had a great jab when he was in his prime. You are correct, Tyson was a hungry bull while Holmes was on the downfall after his prime. However, make no mistake, Tyson’s power against Holmes was very unrelenting and overwhelming to watch.

      Back in the early 1990s, I worked with a gal from Easton, Pa. who transferred to the hospital where I was employed at the time. She never watched boxing a day in her life. One day I asked her if she ever met Larry Holmes or knew who he was since they lived in the same city. She told me many folks in the area of Easton did not care for Holmes as he was rather vocal about his racism against white people. She then said he owned a nightclub/ bar and only favored minorities entering it. As I say, I am relaying what she said and I am not sure how accurate she was with the information.

      • The word your probably looking for is Discrimination, not Racism. Hard for Holmes to be or engage in something that was systematically created and continues to be modified by European powers 100’s of years ago to economically, politically, socially, and psychologically suppress people that look similar to Holmes, not the other way around, champ. As for Holmes, top 5 Heavyweight no doubt, not sure if he was the best or not. I only judge a fighter by his skill set in the ring, outside, its none of my business. At least he fought and defended against Caucasian fighters unlike many white fighters throughout history.

        • If it wasnt whites, it would be another race. Its human nature. Humans want to make thing better for their own and descendants.

      • My friend who is white and suffers from a disability wrote to Larry Homes. Holmes sent him an autograph and called him up and spoke to him for 30 minutes on the phone about his life, career, his greatest fights and his enjoyment of his retirement. Just saying my friend is obviously white and Larry treated him very good.

    • @Colson Speaking of Holmes’ recuperative powers, just watched his fight with Renaldo Snipes recently. For those who haven’t seen it, check out the 7th round if nothing else (and the brawl in the post-fight interview). Larry went down hard from a right hand, got up a bit wobbly, but pretty much kicked Snipes’ a$$ the rest of the round. Showed something similar when Shavers dropped him. That quality, along with his tremendous skills and long reign as Champion, puts him in the Top 5 All-Time among Heavyweights IMO.

      Just an irrelevant observation about the Tyson-Holmes fight: Just before Tyson landed the right hand that ended the fight, Holmes was loading up to throw what looked to be an uppercut, but the punch never got off because his arm got hooked on one of the ropes. He was nailed immediately after that attempted punch just as the round was about to end. Always thought that he would have gotten out of that round had he managed to get that punch off. Not saying it would have changed the eventual outcome, but would have been interesting to see how Larry dealt with him in a longer fight.

    • Tyson at his peak was so strong and fast that he was capable of a quick knockout win against any of the all-time greats. Holmes was never knocked out any other time in a long career against top heavyweights, so the guy clearly has a good chin.

      I agree that if you matched them up a bunch of times, Tyson would have gotten frustrated and outboxed if he failed to land a knockout punch (and this is true for pretty much any other hypothetical matchup of Tyson versus the other all-time greats).

      I think Larry the person has mellowed out in his old age. His younger self was pissed about being overshadowed by Ali and Marciano, and could appear obnoxious at times.

  • Holmes is greater than many heralded heavyweights.

    The Ronald Reagan phone snub was another reminder of why always suspected him to be a racist.

  • Larry Holmes had a granite chin, an incredible dangerous jab and amazing stamina for a heavyweight. He would be Champion in any era.

  • The heavyweight division was the worst ever during his reign. Not his fault though. Holmes was a terrific fighter and funny as hell in his interviews.

  • Talking about boxing, never heard about Larry Holmes alleged racism, it made me sad to read about it.

    Holmes is in my eyes together with Lennox Lewis the best after Muhammad Ali. But Larry Holmes losses against Michael Spinks and Mike Tyson exposes his weaknesses even though he was getting older.

    A prime Larry Holmes would still be in trouble against a prime Mike Tyson. In general I think fights against shorter, powerful and technical boxers like David Tua and Andy Ruiz Jr would be difficult for Larry Holmes handle. I still think he would win most of them but would not be surprised if he didn’t.

    And I think Larry Holmes style would eventually manage boxers like the Klitschkos and Riddick Bowe. He would shine against Anthony Joshua and he would handle Deontay Wilder.

    Larry Holmes against Tyson Fury is different, it would be highly interesting, if the latter was in shape both physically and mentally. I’m not sure about the outcome. I think Tyson Fury is that good when fully in shape.

    But the fight I personally would like to watch most when they where in their primes are Larry Holmes vs Lennox Lewis. That would be a killer.

  • Holmes is one of the most complete fighters ever. I don’t think his coming back in those three fights necessarily counts in his favor. It’s harder for me to imagine the Holmes that fought Tyson hanging in with Shavers and Foreman the way a shot Ali did. And the Ali of the mid 60s may have been the most complete fighter ever. Anyway you look at it, a really tough fight for both.

  • Larry was a great and highly under appreciated champ. But true fans always new that. However, I don’t understand how you can pay his heart the tribute you did and then insult him by including Leonard,whose knees were shaking when he fought Duran and Duran himself-no más!!! Talk heart talk Hagler,talk Frazier,talk Hearns,talk Louis,talk Robinson and countless others. Leonard? Duran? You lost your credibility…..sorry

  • I happen to agree—I think Muhammad Ali was an icon, an amazing showman, a man of great principle and a very talented boxer. But I do think he has been overrated by historians. Larry Holmes was amazing—Now he was only 213-218 so how he would fare against a prime Lennox Lewis for example is up for debate—-One thing is for sure -Holmes had an educated jab and a big heart along with combo punching…He was one of the top 3 heavyweights of all time depending on who you ask. I loved watching him growing up!

  • I can’t say definitively a prime Ali defeats Holmes, but I believe so… take the Ali beginning to round into peak form as he performed against Brian London and Cleveland Williams… I believe would have befuddled Holmes much more readily than Michael Spinks… for whatever my opinion is worth.

  • Larry was great but Ali would have won in his prime cause he was faster in everyway. Holmes said Shavers hit him the the hardware hardest. He literally hit him so hard he bounced off the canvas. The difference between Snipes and Shavers is that when hit by Shavers he was staggering all over the ring and he may have actually got knocked out the ref didn’t make him stay in one place and Larry kept running. That saved him from the the knockout and it wasn’t proper procedure by the ref either.

  • I had heard about Reagan’s phone line in to Cooney’s room had Cooney won and not one for Holms, which was definitely crappy and thoroughly disrespectful. Almost as disrespectful was when Holms was introduced as champion by the ring announcer first with Cooney the challenger second. Holmes definitely had much to be bitter about, having grown up poor, having been robbed of millions of dollars by Don King, and never escaping Ali’s shadow being his reign was right after Ali’s. Nevertheless, Larry Holmes rarely presented as a likeable person and seemed to always have a chip. Definitely a top-five all-time heavyweight champion but he lacked the charisma and polish that Ali had. Foreman was aloof during his first career and found a way to reinvent himself, which Holms was never able to manage subsequent to his second loss to Spinks )which I thought Holmes won). I recall being at a function in NYC in 2001-2002 that had Holmes, Ali, and Cooney. I approached Holmes and told him I just wanted to shake hands with one of my heroes. Other than shaking my hand briefly, Holmes didn’t say anything to me and just seemed to dismiss my comment. In all fairness, it was a noisy event and he may not have heard me well. Nonetheless, I felt very disappointed and, in microcosm, illustrated why a lot of folks didn’t vibe with Holmes the same way they vibed with guys like Ali, Norton, Foreman, and even Lennox Lewis. And unfortunately, it’s not surprising to hear murmurings of his racist tendencies towards white people given the trash he talked about Marciano and his brother, Peter, after the first Spinks fight. Then again, I once read an interview with Holms where he discussed his disappointment of Angelo Dundee while he worked the corner of Rodney Bobick during their fight in 1975, when Holms said Dundee used racist remarks to urge Bobick on in the corner between rounds. Holmes said he lost a lot of respect for Dundee after that fight, so I guess Holmes’ perspective was tainted by experiences similar to that. Sad, really, because Holmes is one of the legends of boxing who just couldn’t transcend the sport the way a heavyweight champion has the opportunity do do.

  • Ezzard Charles and Jersy Joe Walcott in their prime would have beat both Ali and Holmes!

  • What are you smoking Sheridan? You know Tim Witherspoon and Carl Williams beat him! Mike Tyson scared the shit out of him. A better jab than Ali? Ali’s speed would take apart the guy with a football straight arm!

  • Ali in his prime would have beaten Holmes. Also, Holmes vs Norton was decided only in the last round.

  • He means earnie shavers, I know holmes was badly hurt in that one, does not surprise me about Reagan though, he did refer to Africans as monkeys when talking to Nixon.⁵

  • I don’t know about Holmes being a racist. When the president, at the time, does not honor you as the reigning champion, before a fight but does reach out to the opponent (who is also white), it may change ones view on society. Ronald Reagan should be the suspected racist here.

  • Met Larry Holmes once in NJ when he was undisputed champ , not only was he the best heavyweight of his era , but even a classier human being . A great guy.

  • Hi Ray, you may want to change “Knocked OUT three times” to “Knocked down three times”

    Great piece on Larry, thanks for writing it!

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