Originally Posted by Duodenum
Most of Larry's title challengers had either been champions themselves, were reigning champions, or eventual champions, whether it be for the WBC, IBF, WBA, NABF, USBA, EBU, or even at the state level (Shavers and Frank).
The only contenders Holmes defended against who never held a title at any level were Scott LeDoux (although he also challenged Greg Page for the USBA HW title), Renaldo Snipes (who was also repelled in challenges for both the USBA and NABF HW titles), Gerry Cooney (subsequently turned back by Mike Spinks in a later bid for the linear HW Title), Tex Cobb (wins over Shavers, Mercado, Leon Spinks, and two extremely close decision losses to Norton and Dokes which could have gone either way, as well as a 4 round TD loss for the vacant WBC Continental Americas Heavyweight title), and Marvis Frazier (with wins over James Broad, James Smith, James Tillis, Joe Bugner, Jose Ribalta and Philipp Brown).
Without Larry's presence to stabilize the division through the first half of the 1980's , the status of the World Heavyweight Championship would have been as incomprehensibly chaotic as it is today.
No, Holmes never defended his title against Page, Dokes, or Pinklon Thomas. But they all had an opportunity to prove themselves as a viable championship alternative to Larry in the HW title picture, and they all failed miserably. When Mike Spinks eventually was awarded a decision over Holmes, the heavyweight picture did indeed decline into chaos before Tyson cleaned up the mess. (SRL's decision over Hagler was similarly ruinous to the established hierarchy of the middleweight division. It may have been an exciting upset on the scorecards, but it was a disatrous outcome for boxing. At least the Holmes/Mike Spinks contests were for 15 rounds.)
I have to disagree a little with what you said regarding Page, Thomas, e.t.c. While it's true that those guys were very inconsistent and unpredictable, they were also good fighters, especially when they were motivated and well-trained(which wasn't often, I'll admit). However, Holmes chose to fight other fighters who weren't well respected or who were not thought of highly - Frank, Jones, Rodriguez -when he just as readily could have fought Dokes, Page, Thomas, e.t.c. Greg Page was Holmes' mandatory; Holmes was obligated to fight Page and chose not to. Do you think if Marvis Frazier or Scott Frank or Lucien Rodriguez had ever been Holmes' mandatory that Larry would have avoided fighting them? Probably not. He more than likely would have fought them willingly. However, no matter what the skeptics or Holmes apologists say, Greg Page was a good fighter that had more skill than the above-mentioned fighters I just named. The same goes for Pinklon Thomas. Sure they were flawed and inconsistent, but they had natural talent that those other guys didn't. That's why Holmes found excuses not to fight them. Holmes was to get $3.1 million to fight Page; that was alot of money in 1983(Holmes got the same for Tyson in '8
. But Holmes gave up his belt instead of fulfilling his mandatory. And it's strange how Holmes never gave Witherspoon a rematch after such a close fight; the same for Williams.