Remembering Earnie Shavers
Last Thursday, September 1, 2022, we lost an all-time great member of the boxing community. Earnie Shavers, former heavyweight world title challenger, passed away in Virginia a day after his 78th birthday. Shavers posted a professional record consisting of 74 wins in 89 fights, with 68 of those wins being knockout victories. He is regarded as not only one of the greatest power punchers the sport has ever seen, but also one of the best heavyweights of all time never to win a world title.
Not winning world title was no fault of his own. Shavers got two title shots, but those opportunities came against two of the greatest heavyweight champions in the history of the sport. He got his first world title opportunity on September 29, 1977 against reigning champion Muhammad Ali. Shavers went on to lose a unanimous decision, but had spots of success during the bout and had Ali hurt late in the fight. Pat Putnam of Sports Illustrated reported that “Ali was on very wobbly legs” during the final few rounds as he tried to survive. Ali himself spoke about how powerful of a puncher Shavers was, saying post fight that “Earnie hit me so hard, it shook my kinfolk back in Africa”.
After losing a title eliminator against Larry Holmes in his next fight, Shavers came back to brutally knock out Ken Norton in the first round of a 1979 contest. That stunning win set up a rematch against Larry Holmes, this time for the WBC World Heavyweight Championship. The fight was a thrilling affair, and in round 7 it appeared that Shavers was on the doorstep of being heavyweight champ. He floored Holmes with a bone chilling overhand right that sent him crashing to the canvas. In a miraculous effort, Holmes somehow survived the count and made it out of the round. That right hand landed by Shavers is still talked about to this day and for good reason. I am sure it would have knocked out almost every heavyweight ever to compete in the sport. Holmes went to win the fight by an eleventh round TKO, retaining his title.
Despite never fulfilling his goal of becoming world heavyweight champion, Earnie Shavers is an icon in the sport and will be remembered for the rest of time. His inhumane punching ability still amazes people to this very day. On behalf of the ITRBoxing team, we pray that he rests in peace and that his friends and family can remember all the great moments that he had inside and outside of the sport of boxing.