Boxing: Larry Holmes

Canelo isn't first to defend family name

April, 17, 2013
On Saturday, Canelo Alvarez will be fighting for more than a couple of leather belts. He'll be fighting for family pride, and he hopes to reel in a big fish -- specifically, a Trout.

Two years ago, Austin Trout won his junior middleweight title with a one-sided unanimous decision victory over Rigoberto Alvarez, who just happens to be the older brother of Canelo.

This won't be the first time a professional fighter will have sought to avenge a sibling's defeat.

The Baers vs. Joe Louis

Rising heavyweight star Joe Louis faced Max Baer in 1935 in the Livermore Larruper's first fight since dropping the heavyweight title to Jim Braddock. Louis dispatched Baer with a fourth-round knockout. Six years later, Louis, now the champion, was challenged by Maxie's younger brother Buddy. In a wild, action-packed encounter, Baer knocked Louis through the ropes in the first round. The Brown Bomber was unfazed as he knocked down Baer three times in the sixth round. The last time came after the bell, and when Baer's manager refused to leave the ring while arguing the knockdown, Baer was disqualified. Baer received a rematch in 1942 only to be knocked out in the first round.

The Spinks brothers vs. Larry Holmes

In June 1981, heavyweight champion Larry Holmes defeated former champ Leon Spinks in a devastating third-round knockout. In 1985, Holmes was 48-0 and on the verge of tying Rocky Marciano's perfect record. Standing in his way was light heavyweight kingpin Michael Spinks. Leon's little brother stood up to Holmes and took the title with a 15-round unanimous decision. According to CompuBox, Spinks outworked the older Holmes, throwing 130 more punches (697 to 567). He also outlanded Holmes 318-248. To add insult to injury, Michael Spinks beat Holmes again the following year.

The Klitschkos vs. Corrie Sanders

In March 2003, South African Corrie Sanders shocked the world with his stunning second-round stoppage of Wladimir Klitschko, temporarily derailing the Ukrainian's rise to heavyweight dominance. Witnessing the upset was Wladimir's big brother Vitali. The elder Klitschko would get his chance at revenge the following year. In front of 17,000-plus at Los Angeles' Staples Center, Klitschko exacted his family's revenge, stopping Sanders in the eighth round. Klitschko was dominant, outlanding Sanders 230-51 in total punches, according to CompuBox. Before that, in 2000, little brother avenged Vitali's loss to Chris Byrd.

Past greats recall Garden glory

December, 6, 2011
If any fighter can claim to be Madison Square Garden's biggest star, it is undoubtedly Miguel Cotto, who proved again on Saturday night that he can repeatedly pack the sport's most storied venue to the rafters.

But while Cotto may be "The Man" at the Garden today, the arena has played host to many a fighter who has punched his way into the history books, and a few hours before Cotto took on Antonio Margarito in front of more than 21,000 screaming fans, a select few were treated to an audience with some of those shining lights from MSG's past: former middleweight champ Vito Antuofermo, still a regular on the New York fight scene; Hall of Fame former lightweight champ Carlos Ortiz; Marvis Frazier, who fought his first four fights at the Garden and whose father won arguably the greatest, and surely the most famous, bout in the arena's history; famed heavyweight contender Gerry Cooney, whose 54-second knockout of Ken Norton is the shortest main event the Garden has staged; Cooney's former in-ring nemesis, and now his out-of-the-ring friend, legendary heavyweight champion Larry Holmes; and the one member of the group who technically is still an active fighter, former heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield.

Although the Garden may have been supplanted by the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as the epicenter of the sport's big events, it still occupies a revered niche in boxing history and in its pomp was the ultimate destination of any aspirant boxer.

"When I first was told I was going to come to MSG and fight here -- oh boy. It's something," Ortiz said. "You have to learn how to conduct yourself, but actually just by thinking of it, you get weak. Weak feet, weak legs. Fighting at MSG, it's out of this world."

It's a feeling, he added, that has yet to truly leave him. "I get chills every time I see the arena from the outside," he said. "Oh boy. 'I fought there,' I say."

"They told me I was going to fight at the Garden against a guy called Bobby Bozic," Holmes recalled of his Garden debut, his fifth professional fight, in 1973. "And I thought I'd better get myself in shape because they said, 'If you win at the Garden, you've got a home.' And so I wanted a home, I wanted to fight here. And I did win that fight, but I almost killed myself winning it because I overtrained, and that six-round fight, it was like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in Manila -- except it was a six-round fight and it was Larry Holmes and Bobby Bozic."

Antuofermo recalled fighting in the finals of the Golden Gloves in front of a full house of 20,000 in 1970.

"I was never scared. One of my problems was I was never scared to fight anybody," he said. "But I was scared that night. We walked from the dressing room, and they shut the lights off. And I hear a noise, everybody shouting 'Vi-to'. And that was the scariest moment of my life; my first night at the Garden."

Both Frazier and Holyfield took their professional bows at the Garden -- Frazier assuredly aided by his status as son of one of the greats, Holyfield by his membership in the renowned 1984 Olympic class, several members of whom made their pro debuts that same night.

"I'm fighting against a guy who's Philadelphia state champion," Holyfield said. "This guy looks just like Joe Louis and he was already a champ. He had 12 fights already and I ain't had no fights. So I realized that I'm supposed to win, so I guess I'll go in there … and win."

But if there was one fight at the Garden he could have over, Holyfield admitted, it would be his controversial draw with Lennox Lewis in 1999.

"He's the only guy I ever let get to me," he said. "I told him, 'I'm going to knock you out in the third round.' So the only round he's gonna make sure he don't get knocked out is the third round. I went back to the corner when that round was over, and I started to step out of the ring and walk out. If it wasn't for my son being in the corner, standing right there, I would have walked out. I just didn't want anybody to tell my son, 'Just like your daddy, when he had pressure, he walked out.' That's the only thing that kept me in that ring, because I was so embarrassed by opening my mouth and telling somebody I was going to knock them out in the third round."

For most of those on stage, it had been a long time since they experienced the bright lights and the loud crowds. But for them all, the memories of headlining at the Mecca of Boxing are as vivid as if they had occurred yesterday.

"When I walk in that door, I remember every single fight I had in there," Cooney said. "That's what the Garden means to me."