Holmes was mean while stalking the whirling, bobbing and weaving Snipes through the ninth and 10th. The champ was looking for the one big right to end it. But Snipes is as tough as he is awkward, and he came on with a seemingly endless supply of those whistling right hands. In the 10th, he caught Holmes with another, this one fired from the $20 seats, but the champion rolled enough to soften it. Following the 10th round, Holmes, who had turned 32 three days earlier, decided he'd had enough. "I'm going to shorten everything up and end this," he told Trainer Eddie Futch in his corner.
After taking two steps toward Snipes at the start of the 11th round, Holmes paused and winked at his wife. Diane. "I just wanted her to know this would be the last round," he said.
A moment later Snipes got the same message in the form of a right to the body. Then the champion went to work with singular purpose, blending a blur of stiff jabs with the sledgehammer right. Just 45 seconds into the round, a right sent Snipes reeling sideways into his corner. Holmes moved to him quickly. There would be no reprieve this time. Two rights and a hook to the body pinned Snipes to the corner. Using all the power in his 6'3", 213-pound body, Holmes hammered three terrible rights to the head. As he was loading up to throw a fourth, Ortega stopped the onslaught.
There was 1:55 left in the round and no escape for Snipes. He never would have left that corner on his feet. And Ortega will never make a more merciful or correct decision. "I never hesitated," he said. "Snipes's hands were down, and his body was broken. He was pinned in the corner, and every punch Larry threw was hitting its target. You don't need a guy like Holmes beating on you. No way."
And then the other fight started.
ABC sportscaster Howard Cosell, who seems to be making a habit of getting in postfight brawls, was interviewing Snipes and Holmes simultaneously. Snipes's people were angry that the fight had been stopped, in their view, too soon. Jake Holmes, the champion's burly brother, was the innocent instigator.
"Snipes never hurt Larry," Jake told Futch during Cosell's interviews.
Overhearing Jake, Nick Rattenni Jr., Snipes's manager, told him to shut up. Jake called Rattenni a name, which, contrary to rumor, wasn't the magic word. Rattenni cocked a fist, which is a lot more invitation than Jake ever needs.
As Jake went after Rattenni, Snipes had another go at Larry, who pushed him away. Wisely, Cosell ducked for cover. During the melee, which was joined by a host of security guards, Snipes was pushed back against the Rev. Jim Williams, his trainer, who wielded a pair of scissors he intended to use to snip the tape from Snipes's hands. Instead, the scissors accidentally opened a deep crescent-shaped three-inch cut in Snipes's left forearm that required 40 stitches.
"I take the blame for the whole thing," Rattenni said later, adding, "but we're filing an immediate protest with the WBC and the Pennsylvania commission over the precipitous action of the referee in stopping the fight. We feel that the referee was wrong. The fighter wasn't even down."