The Ali vs. Holmes Sparring Myth

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by Omega74, Jan 11, 2022 at 1:01 PM.

  1. Omega74

    Omega74 New Member Full Member

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    Many in the past always claimed, that Holmes "dominated" Ali and beat him up in sparring. I found some footage of them sparring and I really have to say that this Myth is total bs. The footage below is before the Foreman fight, if im not mistaken, and we can clearly see how Ali dominated the action and did whatever he wanted to do in that sparring. One could say that Holmes improved over the years they sparred (1972-1975) and maybe dominated Ali in the last year of their sparring sessions which could've led to the "Holmes beat up Ali in sparring" claim, but they sparred from 1972 till the Wepner fight and we can see, how Holmes could barely touch the Ali before the Foreman fight, which was the second to last camp they sparred in.
    In the first "round" Ali mostly worked on his movement, without mounting any offense and Holmes couldn't lay a glove on him.
    In the second "round" Ali uncharacteristically came forward with a high guard and he did let Holmes punch him for 1:20 minutes (maybe to condition his body to take punishment). After that Ali stepped it up and he outjabbed Holmes and gave him some sneaky left hooks and straight rights, while Holmes couldn't really do much. There seems to be a knockdown at 1:41:15, but im sure its just Ali playing for the crowd.
    Ofcourse this is just one sparring, but after I watched, how Muhammad clearly was a level or two above Larry, I just cant believe in this "Holmes dominated Ali in sparring" myth.
    The Sparring starts at 1:35:14

     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2022 at 3:23 AM
  2. RulesMakeItInteresting

    RulesMakeItInteresting Boxing Addict Full Member

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    Holmes actually knocked Ali down with a right, though I'm not sure if it was before Zaire. There's footage here somewhere, put up relatively recently. Someone here probably has it.
     
  3. Omega74

    Omega74 New Member Full Member

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    read my post. Im talking about that knockdown and it is included in this footage.
     
  4. RulesMakeItInteresting

    RulesMakeItInteresting Boxing Addict Full Member

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    Ewps, sorry my friend.
     
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  5. Omega74

    Omega74 New Member Full Member

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    its all good man.
     
  6. Vince Voltage

    Vince Voltage Boxing Addict Full Member

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  7. Pat M

    Pat M Active Member Full Member

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    Agree, Holmes did dominate, at least in that short amount of sparring footage. Ali was difficult to hit when all he was doing was defense, when he tried to include offense, Holmes landed plenty. Holmes, 73-74, had been stopped by Duane Bobick once and Nick Wells twice a year or two prior. I'm guessing that since it is an Ali documentary, those were some of Ali's better rounds?
     
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  8. cross_trainer

    cross_trainer Bergeron Avatar Club Full Member

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    Would the fact that they were being filmed have changed how they behave?

    In other words, was Larry taking it a bit easy in front of the cameras?
     
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  9. Journeyman92

    Journeyman92 52-0 Full Member

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    Recorded sparring sessions almost always are playing to the camera. I have no reason to doubt there would be times when Larry did work him over and take it to him but it goes both ways and there are probably guys in the gym who took it to both here and there who were nothing in the grand scheme of things. It’s just sparring.
     
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  10. Richard M Murrieta

    Richard M Murrieta Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    I remember reading quite a few years ago that Muhammad Ali gave Larry Holmes a black eye during sparring for the title bout against then champion George Foreman in 1974. Larry was so proud of that Hematoma, telling everyone who would listen that the great Muhammad Ali gave him that injury.
     
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  11. he grant

    he grant Historian/Film Maker Full Member

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    Holmes claimed he moved ahead in 1975. Before that he never claimed to dominate Ali. Normal Mailer wrote in The Fight that Holmes consistently seemed to do very well in sparring before Foreman in the states and in Zaire till Larry left early.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2022 at 4:39 PM
  12. Pugguy

    Pugguy Active Member Full Member

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    Ali was renowned for not looking good in sparring - rather, he was focusing in on particular aspects of his game -

    There’s footage of 1965 Ali sparring Cody Jones for the Liston rematch - revealing to see Ali periodically playing the rope a dope, clinching and leaning, letting his partner wail away and Ali even saying at one point, it makes ‘em tired. But then at points Ali opens up and his speed and accuracy is unreal, leaving his partner floundering.

    With Holmes there is def, vision of Ali dishing it to Larry and there’s no playing and it’s not for the films. I guess you have to factor also that Larry was just one component of Ali’s daily regimen, so perhaps Holmes somewhat fresher?

    Also, you can detect some “needle” in the sparring between Ali and Holmes at times - later we saw Holmes worth as a pro in his own right - and whatever Larry was in 74, Ali would’ve known exactly Holmes to date quality and his potential for the future.

    The knock down was fake. You can see Larry measure with his left hand prior to, so as to ensure the right doesn’t land fully legit. Larry walks off without a blink, certainly not taken aback as he might’ve been - crowd laughs. I actually think the right made some connection and Ali left himself fall hard

    But damn, I had to look at it a few times to be sure - if Liston had only taken some pointers from Muhammad…his KO loss in Lewiston might’ve been bought lock, stock and barrel….
     
  13. Richard M Murrieta

    Richard M Murrieta Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    Probably Muhammad Ali was using the Rope A Dope perhaps to prepare for another weapon to use when he no longer had his legs, let's say for the 1970's. I saw Ali fight on Closed Circuit Television in 1965, it was like night and day comparing the Ali from the 1960's vs the Ali from the 1970's. The 1960's version was very very fast, and in his first title reign, he never visited the canvas.
     
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  14. bbjc

    bbjc Boxing Addict Full Member

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    You almost forget how good ali was. Poetry in motion...that was later in his career as well...wouldnt have liked fighting him before the lay off.

    Just an unbelievable talent. I agree with the op...he kind of played with holmes at times. No disrespect to holmes must be hard fighting a guy with that sort movement. Could move every which way....his timing on the offence is unreal. Everything working in cohesion.

    I still say he,d wipe the floor with anything we see today...even with the size weight disparity.
     
  15. Pugguy

    Pugguy Active Member Full Member

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    Hey Rich
    Here’s the 1965 video - Ali looks great...when he chooses to open up - beautiful mobility, evasions and uber fast and accurate hands.

     
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