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Morning Briefing

This Kid Knows the Score

September 23, 1985

Following Saturday night's fight, Jack Cavanaugh of Reuters asked Larry Holmes if he was upset by the decision.

"No, not at all," Holmes said. "My wife cried, and I told her to stop crying. I said to her, 'I'm still your champion and our family's champion.' "

At that point, Holmes called out to his 3-year-old son, Larry Jr.:

"Larry, am I still the champion?"

"No," said the youngster.

Trivia Time: The odds were 6-1 against him, but Michael Spinks was not the longest shot to win a heavyweight title. Who was? (Answer below.)

If somebody suggests that Michael Spinks make his first defense against Marvin Hagler, don't laugh. In fact, if Hagler won, he would not be the first middleweight champion to win the heavyweight crown.

In 1897, Bob Fitzsimmons was the middleweight champion when he won the heavyweight title with a 14th round knockout of James J. Corbett in Carson City, Nev. Fitzsimmons, an Englishman who was famed for introducing the solar plexus punch, weighed 167 pounds.

Note: After losing the heavyweight title to James J. Jeffries, Fitzsimmons started campaigning as a light-heavyweight and won that title at the age of 40. He lost it two years later but kept fighting until the age of 50.

Claiming he would have won the fight easily if he had used his right hand, Larry Holmes doesn't envision a bright future for Michael Spinks among the heavyweights.

"Pinklon Thomas and Tim Witherspoon can beat him," Holmes said. "And so can Carl Williams, Tony Tubbs, Bonecrusher Smith, Greg Page and David Bey. They'd put pressure on him and use the right."

Trainer Ray Arcel, who has worked with Larry Holmes and was in the corner of Ezzard Charles for his fights with Rocky Marciano, told the New York Times that Holmes has faced better fighters than Marciano and is a better boxer.

Said the 86-year-old Arcel: "Larry fought the more capable opponents, the tougher guys, Earnie Shavers and Ken Norton. He got off the floor to stop Shavers and his fight with Norton when he won the title was a classic."

So who would win between Holmes and Marciano?

"With each at his best, I would pick Rocky," Arcel said. "With his punching ability, Rocky could end any fight with one punch, but Larry wouldn't disgrace himself.

"Good boxers gave Rocky trouble, but he was so strong, so determined. His endurance and stamina were unbelievable."

Add Rocky: Allie Columbo of Brockton, Mass., a boyhood pal of Marciano, recalled when Rocky was 12 and got into a fight with the town bully who was 14.

"The other kid was tough and was faster than Rocky, but Rocky would nail him now and then," Columbo said. "You usually don't see knockouts in street fights. They punch each other until one quits or a cop comes along and breaks it up. But in this fight, Rocky suddenly hit this kid a right uppercut and the kid went up on his toes and spun around and fell flat on his face. That was the first time we knew Rocky could punch."

Trivia Answer: Leon Spinks, against Muhammad Ali in 1978. Ali was such a prohibitive favorite that oddsmakers refused to post a line on the fight.


Severiano Ballesteros, on his three-stroke victory in the Barcelona Open Sunday: "I was so confident of winning today, I wrote my victory speech last night."

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