Originally Posted by Duodenum
And how many title defenses did Thomas, Dokes, Tubbs, Coetzee and Page win? The truth is that during Larry's title run, he defeated eight other claimants to a world title (Norton, Ocasio, Weaver, Ali, Berbick, Leon Spinks, Witherspoon, Smith). David Bey secured his title shot against Larry by winning a 12 round UD over Greg Page for the USBA HW Title. Larry was the only boxer to ever post a victory over Frank (who defeated two former challengers for the HW Title, and drew with a third). In one of the worst performances of his title run, Holmes had a far easier time with Weaver than Dokes had in his rematch with Hercules, or that either Coetzee, Tate, or Williams had with Weaver. Three of the non world HW champions Holmes defended his title successfully against also received title shots against other champions (Evangelista, Shavers and Williams).
Mike Dokes managed to eke out a controversial split decision win over Tex Cobb, before Larry shut out Tex over 15 rounds (in Cobb's native Texas). Holmes not unifying the WBA Title only hurt supporters of South Africa's aparthied government of the 1980's. If the WBA had withdrawn support of SA's racist regime, Larry would have had no reservations about unifying the title. (His stated reasons for not doing so were far more honorable that Bowe's reasons for dumping a title belt in a garbage can, rather than face Lennox Lewis.) The bottom line is that nobody cared who held another version of the HW Championship as long as Larry remained undefeated. And during the same time span that Larry defended the World Heavyweight Championship successfully 20 times, Tate, Weaver, Dokes, Coetzee, Page, and Tubbs won a grand total of six WBA Title defenses between them.
Larry abandoned the WBC for the IBF at just the right time, exactly when the WBC rendered their championship worthless by reducing the length of their title bouts from 15 to 12 rounds. While Larry was being man enough to join an organization which still respected the sanctity of the true 15 round championship distance, Witherspoon won the diminished and vacant WBC paper title against the hapless Page, then promptly dropped it himself to Thomas at the very first opportunity to lose it. (Thomas actually made a successful defense against former and future Holmes victim Weaver, before dropping it to former Holmes 15 round shutout victim Berbick.)
Holmes was the first boxer to defeat nine of his title challengers: Ocasio, Jones, Snipes, Cooney, Witherspoon, Frank, Marvis Frazier, Bey and Williams. The facts are that Larry provided the HW division with a stablizing presence at a crucial time in boxing history, when absolutely nobody else was even remotely qualified for the task, and at his peak, no one truly belonged in the same ring with him, as he demonstrated with the shutout over Cobb.
While it is true that the names I listed did not have title defenses, they were clearly better than most of the names on Holmes record. You mention Ali as a former champion but he was suffering from Parkinsons and was no where near even a 76 Ali. The fight doesn't add to Holmes legacy. He won the title from Norton so obviously that wasn't a title defense. Ocasio barely had a dozen fights when Holmes fought him and the title he won that you mention was at Crusierweight against 13-5 Robbie Williams.
Page had been defeated by Bey and Bey got a shot, but Page should of gotten a title shot prior to that. He proves he is better than many of Holmes oppontants because he beat 3 of them before the loss to Bey! You can't say that the men that lost to Page were better.
Scott Frank wasn't an elite fighter, and the reason Holmes is the only guy that beat him is because he fought literally no other contenders. The title challengers you mentioned Frank fought are among the worst in history, Ron Stander and Chuck Wepner. The best name on his resume is Renaldo Snipes, who he didn't beat in a draw. Frank was not more deserving than Thomas, Tubbs, etc.
Holmes beat Weaver easier than Dokes, but Dokes still held a win over Weaver who gave Holmes hell. Dokes beat numerous others including Cobb who you mention. Holmes beat Cobb far easier but it nonetheless proves Dokes was more deserving of a shot than Cobb.
Holmes not unifying hurts his reign a little. He didn't hold all of the belts at once like Tyson, Lewis, Holyfield and that puts him down a little bit. Thomas, Tubbs, Tate etc didnt have a lot of defenses because they were all even fighters. Evenly matched fighters, but still good fighters. Better than most of the guys challenging Holmes
Holmes was the top guy of that era I agree, but he did not fight many of the best fighters during his reign, electing to fight green versions of Smith, Frazier, Ocasio etc. etc. Apart from a handful of good fighters, Holmes oppontants were poor.