On November 9, 1984, after a year out of the ring….Larry Holmes made his first defense of the IBF title….stopping James “Bonecrusher” Smith on a cut in the twelfth round….followed by stopping
David Bey in ten rounds for his 19th title defense in early 1985….with his next fight going against Carl “The Truth” Williams….who was younger and quicker….wjp was able to out-jab the aging champion….as Holmes left the fight with a badly swollen eye by the end of the bout….but emerged with a close and disputed fifteen-round unanimous decision.
On September 21, 1985, Holmes stepped in the ring looking to equal Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 career record and to make his twentieth successful title defense…..as his opponent was looking to make history as well….for after winning the undisputed championship at light heavyweight….Michael Spinks decided to move up in weight and try to become the second fighter after Bob Fitzsimmons to win titles at both light heavyweight and heavyweight division. It would be Spinks whose historical destiny would be fulfilled….albeit it shrouded with controversy… as he defeated Holmes via unanimous decision to become the first reigning light heavyweight champion to win the heavyweight title. After the fight, a bitter Holmes said, “Rocky Marciano couldn’t carry my jockstrap.”
Holmes had a rematch with Spinks on April 19, 1986….as Spinks retained the title with another disputed fifteen-round split decision….as seen in this video herewith….for the judges scored the fight as follows: Judge Joe Cortez 144–141 (Holmes)….Judge Frank Brunette 141–144 (Spinks)….and Judge Jerry Roth 142–144 (Spinks)….leading to a post-fight interview with HBO where Holmes said…”the judges, the referees and promoters can kiss me where the sun don’t shine—and because we’re on HBO, that’s my big black behind.”
On November 6, 1986, three days after his 37th birthday, Holmes announced his retirement with a career record of 69 wins and 6 losses with 44 KO’s and 25 decisions.
In 1985, Light Heavyweight Champ Michael Spinks beat David Sears and Jim McDonald….both by knockout in title defenses….before challenging Larry Holmes for the world heavyweight championship in a fight recognized by the IBF and becoming the first world light-heavyweight champion since Tommy Burns in 1908 to win the world heavyweight title. His controversial victory over Larry Holmes was named Ring Magazine Upset of the Year. With this victory….Michael and his brother, Leon, had also become the first pair of brothers ever to be world heavyweight champions….a record that was finally followed two decades later by Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko.
In 1986, Spinks and Holmes fought a rematch, and had nearly the same result, this time Spinks winning by a 15 round split decision. After that, he retained the world heavyweight championship once again, by a knockout in four against Steffen Tangstad. In 1987 he was stripped of the crown by the IBF for refusing to fight their mandatory challenger, Tony Tucker….while accepting a higher offer to fight Gerry Cooney instead….and proceded to knocked out Cooney in five rounds….and after Mike Tyson had unified the Heavyweight belts….fans started clamoring for a fight between them as many still recognized Spinks as the legitimate Lineal champion.