Originally Posted by Street Lethal
Duodenum's post defending Larry Holmes is awesome, especially the part about (un)success all those contenders people say Holmes ducked.
Truth is that Holmes' title fight competition was better than that of Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Joe Louis, Ezzard Charles, Rocky Marciano, Floyd Patterson, and Sonny Liston. Before Larry Holmes the only heavyweight who beat a better string of contenders was Muhammad Ali. Frazier's only really good opponent was Ali. Who after Holmes had a streak against that level of opposition? Tyson? Holyfield? Lewis? I don't think so.
You fellows know a lot more about Holmes' competition than I do, but I did look up the Ring Magazine ratings from 1979 to 1985. Seven men were rated #1 or #2 contenders. Of these, Holmes fought two--Weaver and Cooney--and did not fight five--Tate, Coetzee, Dokes, Page, and Thomas. Not that good, I think. Nor were all of them that inconsistent. Thomas did not lose at all while Holmes was champion. Dokes lost only the one fight to Coetzee between 1976 and 1989, a thirteen year run.
In contrast, 14 men were rated #1 or #2 contenders between 1938 and 1948. Of these, Joe Louis defended against 9 and did not fight five while champion. Of these five, he fought two, Charles and Bivins, in his comeback. He did not fight Lem Franklin, Melio Bettina, or Elmer Ray.