Earnie Shavers, considered one of boxing’s hardest punchers during his long career, died Thursday at 78. No cause was revealed in reports.
Shavers was best known for his work in the 1970s, although he was active from 1969 through 1995. Overall, he was 74-14-1 with 68 knockouts in his career. He fought Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes for the heavyweight title, losing to Ali in a 15-round decision in 1977 at Madison Square Garden. It was a close decision and Ali needed a strong final round to pull out the victory.
After the fight, Ali praised Shavers’ power. “Earnie hit me so hard, it shook my kinfolk in Africa,” Ali said.
Ali was not the only heavyweight impressed with Shavers. Shavers fought heavyweight champ Larry Holmes twice, the first time being a non-title bout on March 25, 1978 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, his first after losing to Ali. Holmes won a 12-round decision over Shavers in that match, and in his next fight, beat Ken Norton to win the vacant WBC title.
Shavers and Holmes fought for the WBC belt at Caesars on Sept. 28, 1979. In the seventh round, Shavers knocked Holmes down. Holmes got up and proceeded to stop Shavers in the 11th.
After the fight, Holmes said the punch Shavers hit him with to drop him was the hardest he’d ever been hit.
Shavers made several comebacks, ending things after a second-round knockout loss when he was 48 years old.
The biggest win of his career was in March 1979, when he knocked out Ken Norton in the first round at the Las Vegas Hilton. He also had a win over former heavyweight champion Jimmy Ellis, as well as touted Jimmy Young.
No details on survivors was immediately available.…