Larry Holmes vs. Rocky Marciano: Underappreciated Champion vs. Beloved Legend

Colin LinneweberSenior Writer IJune 13, 2010

BOSTON - CIRCA 1955:  (UNDATED FILE PHOTO) Baseball legend Ted Williams (1918 - 2002) of the Boston Red Sox (L) laughs as American boxing great Rocky Marciano (1923 - 1969) swings a bat circa 1955. The 83-year-old Williams, who was the last major league player to bat .400 when he hit .406 in 1941, died July 5, 2002 at Citrus County Memorial Hospital in Florida. He died of an apparent heart attack.  (Photo by Getty Images)
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After I conducted an exclusive interview last week with International Boxing Hall of Famer Larry Holmes, critics and, well, haters of “The Easton Assassin” emerged in droves.

The bulk of Holmes’ detractors derived from Rocky Marciano’s hometown of Brockton, Mass.

“The Brockton Blockbuster” retired from boxing with an unblemished record after he knocked out Archie Moore (185-23-11, 131 KOs) in the ninth round of their September 1955 prizefight in the Bronx.

Marciano (49-0, 43 KOs), who was ranked as the fifth greatest heavyweight ever by the International Boxing Research Organization in 2005, holds the record for the longest undefeated streak by a heavyweight.

Marciano’s historical mark was threatened by Holmes (69-6, 44 KOs) in 1985 when “The Easton Assassin” improved to 48-0 and prepared to battle Michael Spinks (31-1, 21 KOs) to tie “The Rock from Brockton’s” longstanding accomplishment.

Unfortunately for Holmes, Spinks was declared victorious via a close unanimous decision to capture the IBF title and end Holmes’ impressive streak.

“Rocky Marciano couldn’t carry my jockstrap,” said a bitter Holmes moments after his controversial loss to Spinks.

Holmes later apologized for his blasphemous remark and insisted he was only venting in a way not intended to be malicious.

“I was only talking trash,” said Holmes, 60, who is widely considered to have one of the greatest left jabs in history. “I was being cocky. You can’t take it seriously.”

Residents of “The City of Champions” certainly took Holmes’ comment seriously.

“Holmes isn’t popular with Rock’s brother, Peter, or the citizens of Brockton,” said Roger “Pit” Perron, 73, a respected trainer from Brockton. “He’s not welcome here.”

Due to the drastically different eras they fought in, it is virtually impossible, and equally unfair, to predict who would have won a battle between Holmes and Marciano.

Holmes is six-feet, four-inches tall and he generally weighed approximately 235 pounds during his heyday as a pugilist.

Conversely, Marciano was five-feet, 10-inches in height and he maxed out at 192 pounds in the ring.

Theoretically, Holmes would have completely controlled Marciano with his extraordinarily dominant left jab.

Coupled with his impenetrable jab, Holmes’ size would have posed Marciano with enormous problems that he may not have been able to overcome.

However, Marciano possessed preternatural power in both fists and would have had the very definition of a puncher’s chance to win.

If Marciano fought Holmes on 10 occasions, Holmes would have earned seven unanimous decision triumphs over “The Rock from Brockton.”

In each of the remaining three matches, Marciano would have rendered Holmes unconscious with one savage blow to the head.