Exclusive Interview With Earnie Shavers - “Myself, Ron Lyle And George Foreman Are The Three Hardest-Hitting Heavyweights Ever”
By James Slater: Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking with the fighter the experts recently named “The Puncher of The Century,” Earnie Shavers. It seems as though every week or so, Earnie’s name comes up on one or more web sites or forums, as the fans chat about the great heavyweight punchers.
Article posted on 11.08.2011
I always enjoy reading the debates about who the biggest ever puncher was, and I also enjoy the discussions that argue who would have won between Shavers (who scored an amazing 69 KO’s in his exciting pro career) and fellow bangers such as Foreman and Tyson.
Today, I had the opportunity to ask Mr. Shavers himself!
A great guy who was happy to talk (and sounds as though he suffered no ill effects from his long and eventful career), Earnie had the following answers to my questions:
James Slater: It’s a great pleasure to be able to speak with you, Earnie. It seems every week or so, fans on the forums and the web sites are talking about you - the hardest heavyweight puncher ever! Can I ask you, as fans often debate this: what are the three best KO’s you scored in your great career?
Earnie Shavers: I always appreciate the fans, thank you. In order, I’d say: Ken Norton, Jimmy Young, Jimmy Ellis.
J.S: And why do you list those three, Earnie - any particular reason?
E.S: Well, Norton and Ellis were both former champions and big names at the time, and the Young fight was a very important win for me. All three were very important fights.
J.S: The fans love to debate about “Dream Fights,” champ - what would’ve happened had the peak Earnie Shavers met the best of, A: George Foreman, B: Mike Tyson, and C: Sonny Liston?
E.S: I believe I would have KO’d all three! Foreman, he never wanted to fight me. Tyson, he would never have wanted any part of me. And Liston, I believe I would’ve knocked him out too - he was too old and slow.
J.S: You feel the peak Tyson would have wanted no part of the peak you? Why is that?
E.S: Because of Cus [D’Amato] - he warned Tyson about hard hitters like myself. He [Cus] wouldn’t have let him take such a fight.
J.S: This is solid gold, what you’re giving me, Earnie - the fans will love reading it! Another question that comes up about you is: as you were a solid 208 or 210-pounds in your prime, would you have been a cruiserweight today; and would you have cleaned up if you were?
E.S: No, I would have always been a heavyweight. Heavyweight is heavyweight - 210 is big enough. That’s the problem, I think - these guys get too big and are too big these days. 210 is the perfect weight [for a heavyweight]. I’d say 225 is the highest you can get and be effective, not be too slow. Anything above that is too heavy, and too slow.
J.S: Earnie, one of the reasons the fans yearn for a heavyweight like you - I think, anyway - is because they crave the KO action you gave the division way back when. Can you train a guy to come up and take the belts back to the U.S?
E.S: I do train, but my real advice would be this: chop wood, lift hay bales; go back to old-school, natural methods of training. My trainer, Archie Moore, he told me to go away and chop trees for two weeks before a fight - and I did and it made all the difference in the world; all the difference to my life. I’d say doing things like that increases you punching power by at least 25-percent - forget lifting weights, that just makes you muscle-bound and takes away your speed. Weights are no good for you, that’s what I say. Go back to nature when you train, that’s what I did.
J.S: Again, solid gold, Earnie! Are you in good shape today? You sound well.
E.S: I’m pretty much the same weight now. I’m 67 now and I weigh around the same [as I did in my prime]. I do a lot of walking and I try to get to the gym now and again. I also watch what I eat.
J.S: There’s no doubt about it amongst the historians: you are THE hardest hitting heavyweight ever - Bert Sugar, for one well-respected expert, said it. But can I ask you; who hit YOU the hardest?
E.S: Ron Lyle. Without a doubt!
J.S: Even harder than Larry Holmes?
E.S: Oh yes. You see, there were three hardest punching heavyweights ever: me, Ron Lyle and George Foreman. We were the three hardest ever.
J.S: Harder than Tyson?
E.S: Yes. You see, Tyson was okay, but look at the opposition [he fought]. The only great fighter he fought while he was in his prime, was [Evander] Holyfield - and he lost. I fought and beat, I’d say, ten Holyfields in my day!
J.S: That’s a great point, Earnie. Tyson hit hard, but who did he really fight and defeat? Just to clear something up: I read a while back on a web site that you and Tyson were very close to fighting one another in early 1987, but he fought Tyrell Biggs instead of you. Did the Tyson team ever approach you with a solid offer, or is this just rumours?
E.S: Oh, it’s just rumours. That’s not true.
J.S: What do you think of the Klitschkos, who dominate the heavyweights today?
E.S: I’ve seen a lot of their fights, and they’re okay. They’re nice guys too. But in my opinion, if they had been around in my day, you would not have even heard of them.
J.S: I think many fans will agree with you, Earnie. It’s been an absolute pleasure being able to speak with you. All of us at Eastsideboxing are grateful for your time.
E.S: Okay, any time you need anything.
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