Originally Posted by Duodenum
Holmes, in large part due to his extraordinary, and utterly unanticpated longevity. It should also be remembered that Holmes dominated Mercer over 12 rounds, nearly three years before Moorer was dethroned by Foreman (who needed a come from behind one-punch kayo to win the title).
Larry came off the deck to stop Shavers and Snipes. Lewis couldn't do it against McCall and Rahman. As an undefeated boxer, Holmes won 20 consecutive championship matches, and successfully defended the title in eight consecutive calendar years. Like Lewis, Holmes sustained only two decisive losses on his resume: to Tyson and Holyfield. Against a peak Tyson, Holmes was noticably rusty, and with his timing off after nearly two years of retirement. Yet even at age 38, he was competitive against one of the fastest starting champions in HW history for nearly three and a half rounds. Against a peak undefeated Holyfield, at age 42, he lost a contact lens (!), yet still managed to defend himself well enough to go the distance.
Holmes was the de facto universal champion. He kayoed Weaver, and shut out Cobb, after Tex had narrowly lost a split decision to Dokes (who was considered the number two HW at the time). Insofar as Lewis and Holyfield enjoyed official recognition as undisputed HW Champions, the lion's share of that credit belongs to Tyson, for consolidating the title to begin with. (For his part, Holyfield consolidated the Cruiserweight Title, and established his 15 round pedigree against Qawi.)
Holmes recorded victories over the following world title claimants:
Ocasio (Eventual WBA Cruiserweight Champion)
Berbick (By shutout)
Mercer (WBO Heavyweight Champion and Olympic Gold medalist)
Holmes defeated five future champions (Ocasio, Weaver, Berbick, Witherspoon and Smith).
Holmes eliminated the following from the unbeaten ranks:
(Lewis defeated four unbeatens.)
Holmes won matches over a period of nearly thirty years, and when in his forties, was far more impressive against a peak McCall and Mercer than a prime Lennox was, also much more impressive against a young Ocasio than the young Lewis was against an aged Ocasio. Due to circumstances beyond Lewis's control, Holmes also has the 15 round pedigree Lennox never had the chance to establish for himself.
Finally, there's a saying that, "As goes the heavyweights, so goes boxing." The sport was never bigger than it was in the early 1980s, and Holmes was the HW Champion in Ali's wake during those heady halcyon days in its history. Lewis was one of those who presided over boxing's decline and fall as a mainstream attraction.