CNN/SI

  Holmes vs. Weaver - Jun 22, 1979  
  gloves
Sports Illustrated takes you ringside for 10 of the best bouts in Madison Square Garden history. Click on a fight and return to the Mecca.

1957: Robinson-Fullmer
1963: Clay-Jones
1967: Ali-Folley
1968: Foster-Tiger
1971: Ali-Frazier
1977: Ali-Shavers
1979: Holmes-Weaver
1983: Duran-Moore
1986: Camacho-Rosario
1991: Leonard-Norris
Evanders Believe It Or Not! From Don King's bark to Mike Tyson's bite, Holyfield's career has been defined by the outrageous. Scroll through our timeline to relive the madness and mayhem.
Tomato Cans They're known for bleeding, losing and taking a serious pounding. Check out our gallery of boxing's most unlikely contenders.
Molding a Champion CNN/SI followed Holyfield through a typical day of training. Check out the video clips, but be sure to come back to Evander's Believe It Or Not.

Team Holyfield
A Day in the Life

 
 
 
'I Send the Dogs Out, and Then I Go In'

So Larry Holmes said, and so he did, defending his title

by Pat Putnam

Issue date: July 2, 1979

  1979 Holmes (left) didn't need to work this close too often, thanks to his devastating left jab.    (Manny Millan)
The jab was a bolt of beauty, a cobra striking again and again at the already reddened and swollen face of Mike Weaver. It always begins this way—with the wicked jab. It was the drum roll for another anticipated brilliant performance by Larry Holmes, 29, the heavyweight champion of those portions of the globe that no longer swear fealty to Muhammad Ali.

"The jab is my dogs," a confident but troubled Holmes had said a few hours before his WBC title defense against Weaver last Friday night at Madison Square Garden. "I send the dogs out, then I go in."

Early in the first rounds the dogs were off their leads and doing their work. Weaver, 26, an ex-Marine from Pomona, Calif., was verifying the rumors about his abilities: he was plodding and easy to hit. He looked every bit the unappealing out-bet underdog he had been labeled by the Las Vegas bookies and the New York TV moguls.

The crowd of 14,136, the fans who watched on closed circuit in 45 locations, and the two million subscribers in their living rooms who could be thankful that Home Box Office shelled out the fire-sale price of $150,000 to buy a fight program that the three major networks deemed unworthy of display, warmed to the promise of Holmes' fists.


  1979 Weaver couldn't stand the cumulative effect of Holmes' blows.    (Manny Millan)
After losing the first three rounds to the jab, Weaver, 13 pounds lighter that Holmes, won the next two. Sensing an upset might be in the making, the crowd began to cheer "WeaVER, WeaVER, WeaVER."

"I heard them yelling for him," Holmes said later, "but it didn't mean anything. At the time, he was beating the hell out of me. So they yelled for him. When I was beating the hell out of him, they was yelling for me."

Going back to the jab, pawing at times with the right, Holmes regained some control. He won the sixth and seventh rounds, but he was breathing hard. He appeared to be spent.

In the crowd, Earnie Shavers, seeing his September title shot unexpectedly slipping away, became alarmed. "You're messing with my money!" he screamed at Holmes. "I got to feed my babies. Run from him. If you can't run from him, give me the baton and I'll get in the ring and run from him."

In the eighth and ninth rounds, both men, too tired to run or give chase, battered each other about the ring. At any moment it seemed as though one—or both—would fall from exhaustion.

It was while trudging back to his corner at the end of the ninth round that Holmes decided enough was enough. "I thought about my title," he said. "And I thought about this guy trying to take it from me. "I knew I had made a lot of mistakes: that I had taken him too lightly, that I should have trained a lot harder. I decided to suck it up. If I was going to be a champion, then, damn it, I was gonna fight like a champion. He was gonna have to kill me to take my title."

As the 10th round began, Holmes said to Weaver, "I'm the champion. There's no way you're gonna beat me."

"I'm gonna try," Weaver answered.

They went at each other with a fury. Near the end of the round Holmes drilled a right to Weaver's jaw and bounced another off the top of his head.

"Now," Holmes thought.

He stepped in—and took a solid right on the chin that staggered him. Reaching deeply within, Holmes remained toe-to-toe with Weaver for the last few seconds.

"I was scared to death," Don King, who will promote the September fight as well, said later.

"What the hell," said Holmes' manager and trainer Richie Giachetti. "You think you were the only one scared?"

The 11th round began with the crowd once more urging Weaver to end it. One more the fighters went at each other head to head. With a minute to go, Weaver was cut over the left eye. His face as cherry-red and swollen from the jab, from the heavy punches now getting past his tired arms.

Holmes caught his man with two lefts and a right, and then a solid right cross. Weaver backed into the ropes and the champion followed him, stepped in close and threw everything he had left into a paralyzing right uppercut.

Weaver dropped. There were 12 seconds left. Somehow the challenger pulled himself up, just beating the count. It earned him a minute's rest, but that wasn't enough.

As Weaver came out for the 12th round, referee Harold Valan asked, "Are you O.K.?"

"Yeah," was the reply.

Holmes advanced quickly, fired four quick jabs and then went to work with both hands. Weaver backed against the ropes and hung there, unable to do more than defend himself. Valan stopped the fight 44 seconds into the round and the network TV people took off after King, bidding for replay rights to the bout. "They all wanted it," King reported later. "I gave it to ABC and they'll run it on July 1. Giving it to ABC was the right thing to do. After all, they'll televise Holmes-Shavers."

And Holmes' dogs will not only have their day; Larry will have a payday.