Larry Holmes vs. Gerry Cooney was a world championship boxing match that took place on June 11, 1982….as this fight was one of the most highly anticipated fights of the early 1980s…cuz Larry “The Easton Assassin” Holmes had held the WBC heavyweight champion title for 4.5 years since 1978….when he beat Ken Norton by a fifteen-round split decision at the Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Over the course of his illustrious and legendary career…,with his cannon sight’s squarely on tying the great Rocky Marciano’s record of 49-0….who when his chance came to tie the great Rock….was, at least in this lil ole chiseenie Sportsphile’s opinion, robbed of his rightful place in boxing history….cuz the challenger DID NOT decisively win that fight….but that is another story for another day….for you’ve gotta remember that I believe the challenger has to take the title decisively….knockout….TKO….but not anything close to a close decision.
Gerry Cooney cam into the fight after having been a professional fighter since 1977….a time in which he beat boxers such as Jimmy Young…but the turning point of his career came when he beat Ken Norton by a dramatic KO in the 1st round in May 1981 at the Madison Square Garden in New York City….cuz after the Norton fight….there was no question in the United States of America who was heavyweight boxing’s Great White Hope!?!
Anticipation over a Holmes-Cooney confrontation began to take shape in early 1981….but the fight took over a year to happen….partly because boxing during its golden age was kinda at an apex in 1981….as it was a particularly busy year with many other big fights….and also partly because Holmes was obliged to defend against Trevor Berbick, Leon Spinks and Renaldo Snipes in that order….while Cooney only had one fight against Norton. Holmes vs Cooney was originally scheduled for March 1982….but was delayed until June after Cooney had injured his back in training.
By 1982, promoter Don King and manager Dennis Rappaport began one of the most massive and racially toned campaigns in boxing history to raise public interest for a fight between Holmes and Cooney. After they were both signed to fight….an intense promotional tour followed….as both Holmes and Cooney attended press conferences at several United States cities, Cooney was shown on the cover of Time magazine, Hollywood stars took an interest in the fight…with the likes of Sylvester Stallone and Woody Allen hanging out with Gerry Cooney…and Cooney was cast as “The Great White Hope”….cuz there had not been a White world Heavyweight champion in 22 years….and Cooney was “the white knight in shining armor”…who would try to change that. white supremacist groups had announced they would have “agents” ready to shoot at Holmes the moment he entered the ring….while black groups retaliated by answering that they would also have armed people on hand in case Holmes was attacked…so, because of this, there were police snipers on the roofs of every major hotel surrounding Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Snipers were used because the fight was held at the hotel’s parking lot allowing any attacker to be easily shot by police snipers. The fight was televised live on closed-circuit and pay-per-view television all over the world. A week after the bout, it was re-broadcast on HBO, and later still, on ABC-TV….as seen in this video herewith. So, say what you may….escalating racial tensions allowed both fighters to take home $10 million dollars…but sadly to us at Ima Sportsphile….it is just another way that racism is kept at the forefront by BIG MONEY.
Holmes and Cooney then took center stage without any incidents….as referee Mills Lane was the new sherrif in town….as the announcer that night named Holmes first….for which many thought that this was unprecedented….for it had been tradition in boxing for years that the challenger be named first and the champion last….but this wasn’t your normal black verses white fight.
When the fighters touched gloves before the first round began, Holmes told Cooney, “Let’s have a good fight.” Holmes dropped Cooney in round two….but Cooney got up and landed a damage-causing shot to the body by the end of round four. Holmes and Cooney fought closely from rounds five to eight by trading punches in middle of the ring….for this was the point where Cooney’s inactivity started affecting him and Holmes again dropped the championship hopeful in round thirteen….which proved to be the final round. By round ten….Cooney’s punches began landing low…as referee Lane deducted a total of 3 points from Gentleman Gerry….which caused him to fall further behind on the judges’ scorecards. .
By round thirteen, Cooney seemed to believe that he would lose the fight and was just trying to last the fifteen round distance…..as he had suffered a cut on his left eye and was taking heavy punishment…. when midway through the round….Holmes’ cross landed flush on Cooney’s left cheek….and Cooney’s legs buckled…..landing against the ropes near his corner, and Holmes moved in with intent on finishing his job….and that is when Cooney’s trainer, Victor Valle, prevented him from doing by throwing a towel from Cooney’s corner, signifying that they were quitting. The truth of the matter is that Gentleman Gerry and The Easton Assassin became very good friends and are still to this day.
Regarless of the outcome….this was an exceptional heavyweight championship title fight between a legend in Larry Holmes and a legendary hope….as analyzed by a boxing broadcasting legend….so, how could it get any better than this for a fight fan!?!!