Monday, October 26, 2009

I'll Take Solace

After a dreadful weekend where my beloved Giants collapsed and the hated Yankees prevailed, the Stoop will take comfort in the ESPN "30 for 30" documentary tomorrow night on the Larry Holmes ass-beatin of Muhammad Ali in October 1980.

Here is the setting: Larry Holmes is the champ, and in the prime of his career. Ali is a washed up, already brain-damaged fighter who hasn't fought in two years and is in desperate need of cash.

Sounds like a fair fight to me.

Truth be known, Holmes knew years before the fight that he could beat Ali. He was Ali's sparring partner and must have sparred over 100 rounds with him.

During training, Ali started taking diet pills and amphetamines to lose weight. Which he did. He came in lighter for the Holmes fight than he did for any fight since he fought Foreman six years prior.

By losing the weight, the public and the sporting press (which were always members of the Ali fan club) bought into the illusion that Ali could beat Holmes.

And even worse, Ali himself believed it. (Which is even further evidence that the man was already severely brain-damaged.)

We all know what happened during the fight: Holmes scrambled the few uncracked eggs that Ali had left.

The fight went 10 rounds, each easily won by Holmes, when Angelo Dundee threw in the towel with Ali sitting on his stool.

As much as Holmes administered a beat-down to Ali, he actually pulled a lot of punches and wanted the ref to stop the fight much earlier.

By doing so, Larry showed Ali the mercy that Ali never showed fighters like Floyd Patterson and Ernie Terrell, who Ali admittedly did not knock out sooner because he wanted to inflict savage punishment to each of these men.

But then again, Larry Holmes has class and dignity, and has a history of helping boxers in need.

I am glad that this fight is finally getting the coverage it deserves. For many years, the sporting press has treated this fight the way the news media treats the 9-11 video footage: as too disturbing to see.

Here's hoping the documentary gives Larry Holmes the credit he deserves. (I don't expect it to show the real Ali.)

And here's hoping the great Joe Frazier is watching, and has a smile that won't go away every time Larry Holmes throws his jab.

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