This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger
Larry Holmes is the Rodney Dangerfield of heavyweight boxing, but he also deserved a lot of respect, because we are talking about one of the top three to five heavyweights of all time, who beat everyone in his prime except for Michael Spinks, a fighter he should have beaten. But if you look at the list of opponents he beat in his career, it is right up there with the list of Muhammad Ali when you are talking about Ken Norton, Ernie Shavers, Leon Spinks, Gerry Cooney, and many others.
A good way to look at the dominance of Larry Holmes is to look at the fact that he was the boxing heavyweight champion of the world for 7 years, from 1978 to 1985, when he lost to Mike Spinks for the first time. He was one of the most talented and intelligent boxers of all time, a huge man with great power and a devastating jab who pounded his opponent the whole fight until he finally fell.
The reason Larry's qualities are overlooked is that he was unfortunate enough to pop up in the same generation or era as Muhammad Ali, who is perhaps the most popular heavyweight of all time as well as the best. And another reason has to be the fact that Muhammad and Larry were similar fighters in style--tall, strong guys with agility and great jabs. Unfortunately, he lost to Mike Spinks, a bulked-up heavyweight, and lost that fight plus the rematch to Spinks because he fought with an inadequate strategy and moved far too much when he should have just pounded Spinks the entire time. Fighters forfeit respect when they lose to people they were expected to dominate.