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Interview: Larry Holmes

Jan 15, 2004  Interview by Ed Ludwig
When boxing fans talk about all time great Heavyweight champions, it is a sure bet that the name Larry Holmes will be among them. With a record of 69 wins, 6 losses and 44 knockouts the man known as the “Easton Assassin” ruled the Heavyweight division throughout the eighties and was a top contender into the nineties even scoring a huge upset against then undefeated former WBO champion Ray Mercer in 1992. Holmes powerful jab and dogged determination made it next to impossible for his opponents to overcome and take their place in history. Today Larry is continuing with his very successful business ventures and this Friday fans in Birmingham, Alabama can see this legend take part in a four round exhibition bout. The card will take place from the Boutwell Arena. Featured in separate bouts are former world champion Livingstone Bramble and Butterbean. If you wish to attend the “Birmingham Brawl” you can call (205) 254-7797 for more information. On a personal note, Larry Holmes is the man I credit for making me a true blue boxing fan and columnist. Back in 1985 I was sitting with my family watching Larry Holmes defend his IBF title against Carl “The Truth” Williams on NBC and after witnessing a hard fought close battle my brother and I became hooked on boxing and we continued to follow Larry’s career from that point on. I would like to thank Larry Holmes for taking the time from his busy schedule to speak with Doghouse Boxing and especially for being very open and candid.

Ed Ludwig: I was wondering if you can give me an update on the K-1 Mixed Martial Arts Tournament and if there is any truth that you will actually take part?

Larry Holmes: I’m not in the K-1 tournament. We thought about it but they really don’t want me as they feel I might get hurt so that’s fine with me but I do see a lot of guys out there that I feel I can take. With my boxing skills, long jab, good right hand and long legs, I could withstand a lot of what they have. K-1 would have to pay me a lot of money to compete and get kicked.

EL: What have you been doing since the K-1 story broke?

LH: Right now I’m getting ready to do an exhibition in Birmingham, Alabama on Friday night.

EL: What are your thoughts on the state of the Heavyweight division today?

LH: It looks bleak to me. Lennox Lewis is undecided as to what he wants to do so it makes it kind of hard to look at right now. As for the Klitschko brothers, I do feel that they are coming along pretty good but they have a lot of learning to do. Outside of that it does not look all that good.

EL: When you defeated Ray Mercer you looked ten years younger and you looked better against him then Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis did when they fought him and they were at their peak. What went right for you that night?

LH: I was more experienced then those guys and when I fought Evander Holyfield I had a detached retina and I went the full twelve rounds with him. I have the experience, ability and I punch very hard and my legs are still good so all that helped me in the Ray Mercer fight.

EL: For sometime now Scott Ledoux has been calling out George Foreman. How come we don’t hear him calling you out to avenge his loss?

LH: George Foreman is easier and has the bigger name and have you noticed that Foreman never calls me out or ever mentions my name? He is afraid of me like most fighters are and most people want to forget about Larry Holmes, like he never ever existed. Everybody knows that I am one of the greatest fighters of all time and I would beat all those guys. Scott Ledoux is a chump, I didn’t try to kill him but he tried to make the fight a racial issue. He is nothing and with his commentary on ESPN2 telecasts he is not even good at that either. Foreman and Ledoux can say what they want about me and if they want to fight me now at fifty-four years old I will get in the ring with them and kick their asses. If Foreman, Ledoux or anyone in that age bracket that wants to fight then I will kick some ass.

EL: Are you still training on a regular basis?

LH: My training schedule is always good enough to beat those guys. I don’t have to train to beat Scott Ledoux. He looks like a short, fat butterball which he was when I fought him back in the eighties. I think George Foreman must have gained about 350 lbs and is slow as ever. I am still quick at 250 to 260 lbs and I am smarter.

EL: Last week the FBI raided the offices of Top Rank and I was wondering if you have any information as to what might be going on with this investigation?

LH: I’ll tell you what, I never even heard about it until you just told me. Bob Arum and Don King can do their thing but if I fought for those guys and they put the money up like they are supposed to then I don’t have a problem. Bob Arum is a nice guy but he is just like Don King because when I signed the contract to fight Evander Holyfield for a certain amount of money Arum comes back and tells me he can’t pay that kind of money. He is no different then anyone else. He had me for three and a half million dollars but I don’t worry about it and keep on going because god will take care of me and he will take care of them. We put our life on the line to fight for them, put on a show and these guys take our money so whatever happens to Bob Arum, Don King or anyone else is fine with me.

EL: Going back to your career now, when do you feel that you peaked both mentally and physically?

LH: I don’t think I have peaked (laughs)! I still feel that I am in my prime right now but I think my best fights were in my thirties.

EL: You fought many tough opponents. Who stands out in your mind as the toughest?

LH: Carl Williams because he was a boxer like me. Michael Dokes could have given me problems had we fought because he was a boxer like me as well but guys who were not pure boxers never gave me problems.

EL: Who do you feel has been the best Heavyweight, champion or non champion since your last title reign?

LH: Mike Tyson.

EL: Have you ever given any thought about getting into promoting or working as a trainer?

LH: No, not really. Maybe down the road but right now it is no.

EL: You have not officially retired. You don’t need the money, you have the fame, glory and nothing left to prove. Will there come a day when you will actually say “I’m done” or will you wait and see what happens?

LH: I can say it right now, I’m done! I won’t say I won’t fight again but I don’t think anyone wants to fight me so I am finished and I will just continue with boxing exhibitions.

EL: A little word association, tell me the first thing that comes to mind. I’ll start with Rocky Marciano?

LH: He was a good fighter, strong and powerful for his size and from what I have seen and heard he was a very determined fighter. You can’t put those guys like Marciano or anyone else in with today’s class of fighters. Fighters today are much bigger, stronger and quicker and not only that but referees, judges and doctors back then were very strict and if your head got busted up the fight would be stopped.

EL: Joe Louis?

LH: Joe Louis was a good Heavyweight, good boxer but he was kind of in the same boat as Marciano, weighing about 190 to 200 lbs. The guys today are just too strong and back then they would take many hard punches to land one. I don’t think Joe Louis could take the punches today fighting in this era.

EL: Muhammad Ali?

LH: Muhammad could take a very good punch. He was slick, he could move, he could hit, make you miss, good hand speed and combinations and one of the greatest fighters of all time in my opinion. He would have been tough for anyone to beat including me. With both of us in our prime I still think I would have won. It would have been very tough.

EL: Mike Tyson?

LH: Mike Tyson would have been a good sparring partner for me and Muhammad Ali because Tyson was a fast fighter and he could punch and throw good combinations. Those guys were made for me and Muhammad because they come straight in and don’t back up but you had to watch out for his punching power but if we could have neutralized that then we would have been fine.

EL: The final name is the legendary Larry Holmes?

LH: Well Larry Holmes is one of the greatest fighters of all time, never got his just due, never got his credit, people always would boo him, even now in the twilight of his life people still don’t want to mention his name but he was one tough guy. You could knock him down and he would get right back up, fight you and beat you. Good skills, jab, right hand, determined and very hard to fight. With a record of 75 fights and 6 losses, some of the losses were very questionable including Brian Nielsen when we fought in Denmark. I knew I won but they didn’t give me that fight. When I was over there they tried to poison me and I wasn’t feeling good anyway but I really felt I beat him but didn’t get the decision.

EL: With only two victories in his last seven fights should Evander Holyfield retire?

LH: I think he should retire because he is taking a lot of punches and starting to slur his words and I don’t think he needs to take anymore punishment. I don’t know how much money he has or how much he needs but if he doesn’t retire he is not going to win anymore.

EL: What does your future hold in store for you?

LH: I don’t really make plans and I just want to be happy and continue with my business and take care of my wife and kids. I want to sit back, relax and enjoy life.

EL: Throughout your career you have managed your finances very well so why do many fighters following retirement have no plans or any savings?

LH: The thought of being broke scares me. It doesn’t last forever so people need to manage their finances properly and plan ahead.

EL: In closing, any comments for your many fans and supporters?

LH: My fans know the name Larry Holmes and that he always gave it his all. I never tried to be a mercenary or a killer but a hard working fighter. I appreciate the support that the fans have given me all these years and especially fans like yourself throughout Canada. I have a lot of friends and fans in Canada and as a matter of fact I met a fan from there that came down to my office. It was nice and we took pictures and had a nice talk. So thanks to everyone!

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