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Earnie Shavers, Hard-Punching Heavyweight, Is Dead at 78


Earnie Shavers, who was considered certainly one of the toughest punchers in boxing history, but who failed in his two quests to capture a world heavyweight championship within the Seventies, died on Thursday in Virginia, a day after his 78th birthday.

The Associated Press said it had been informed of Shavers’s death, at the house of certainly one of his daughters, by his close friend Kenny Rainford, a British former boxer. Rainford, whose aunt was married to Shavers for a decade, didn’t cite the cause but said that Shavers had “slowed down rapidly.”

Shavers won 74 bouts, 68 by knockouts, lost 14 and fought to 1 attract an expert profession that lasted from 1969 to 1995.

The boxing publication The Ring recently ranked Shavers because the seventh-greatest puncher of all time.

When the heavyweight division was in its glory, Shavers traded punches with the nice names of his time. He lost on a unanimous decision in his September 1977 bid to capture Muhammad Ali’s World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council crowns. He was stopped on a technical knockout within the eleventh round of his September 1979 bout with Larry Holmes, the W.B.C. titleholder.

Shavers, who weighed in at 211¼ kilos to Ali’s 225, was such an underdog that there was no betting line for his or her fight. His shaved head, unusual on the time, was said to be intimidating, but Ali, unimpressed, nicknamed him “the Acorn.” In a 2016 interview on the cable television show “In This Corner,” Shavers laughingly recalled Ali’s try and rile him.

“He was a con man,” he said of Ali. “Top-of-the-line.”

Neither fighter scored a knockdown, but Shavers shook Ali several times with right-hand punches, his fiercest weapon. Each men were wobbling at the ultimate bell of their 15-round bout at Madison Square Garden in Latest York.

“Ali and Shavers stood there, swinging as in the event that they were John Wayne and Randolph Scott in a cowboy brawl, but neither surrendered to the shelling,” Dave Anderson wrote that 12 months in The Latest York Times.

“I’m drained, almost as drained as I used to be in Manila,” Ali told reporters afterward, referring to his storied 14-round knockout of Joe Frazier two years earlier.

Sports Illustrated ran a canopy photo of Shavers delivering an overhand right with the headline “Ali’s Desperate Hour.”

“I used to be a puncher from Day One,” Shavers said in 2016.

In his 1979 bid for Holmes’s titles in Las Vegas, Shavers floored Holmes within the seventh round with a strong right hand. Holmes got up quickly but seemed on the point of collapse.

Nevertheless, just as Shavers had been unable to complete Ali off after delivering crushing blows, he couldn’t conquer Holmes. His wild lunges allowed Holmes to get through the ultimate 30 seconds of the round. The referee stopped the fight within the eleventh round as Holmes was pummeling an exhausted Shavers.

Earnie Dee Shavers was born on Aug. 31, 1944, in Garland, Ala., but when he was young, his family moved to the Youngstown, Ohio, area. He turned skilled after some two dozen amateur fights and after capturing a national Golden Gloves heavyweight title and a national Amateur Athletic Union heavyweight title. He began to rise within the skilled heavyweight ranks after hiring Don King as his promoter.

As his profession progressed, Shavers defeated the previous world champions Vicente Rondón, Jimmy Ellis and Ken Norton, in addition to the European champion Joe Bugner.

Shavers’s bout with Holmes was his last big fight. He underwent surgery for a detached retina afterward and had not fully recovered when he was stopped within the eighth round of a bout with Tex Cobb in August 1980.

He tried to make two transient comebacks, the primary in 1987 and the second in 1995. He retired for good after being knocked out by Brian Yates within the second round of their fight in November 1995.

He went on to grow to be an ordained Christian minister, but he also made appearances in Las Vegas in his later years, signing autographs at casinos.

In line with The Associated Press, Shavers had five daughters together with his first wife, Laverne Payne: Tamara, Cynthia, Catherine, Carla and Amy; he also had 4 daughters from other relationships: Catherine, Lisa, Natasha and Latonya.

Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.

In 1992, Shavers released a video telling the story of his profession. It was titled “Earnie D. Shavers, the Hardest One-Punch Hitter.”

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