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not unifying the WBA Title only hurt supporters of South Africa's aparthied government of the 1980's. If the WBA had withdrawn support of SA's racist regime, Larry would have had no reservations about unifying the title.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 two WBA Title defenses between them. (Weaver KO 13 Coetzee & Weaver UD 15 Tillis.)
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 (agreeing to join the IBF in part because that organization also did not recognize SA's criminal regime), 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.