Boxing


Randy "Tex" Cobb v Earnie Shavers - A "Real" Heavyweight Fight!

11.07.06 - By James Slater: After Saturday's dismal effort by Danny Williams in his awful fight with Matt Skelton, I found myself with the urge to watch a heavyweight rumble - a real fight between two big guys who weren't afraid to let the punches go. In other words, an action-packed slugfest! In order to satisfy my craving I looked through my fight collection, in search of a great heavyweight rumble - one that had loads of bombs thrown by both guys. It wasn't long before I came across the very fight I was looking for..

The 1980 war between Earnie Shavers and Randall "Tex" Cobb is one of the greatest ever "fun" fights amongst the big men. Both boxers were more than willing to unload and give it everything. And with Cobb's supernaturally tough chin able to take Shaver's most potent blows, the fight served to give the fans something to cheer about. The action was quite incredible. The bout took place on the second of August, 1980 and was on the under-card of the Thomas Hearns v Pipino Cuevas title fight.

Shavers, who was on the downside of a memorable career, was to have fought Gerry Cooney. But due to a torn muscle suffered by Gerry, Randy Cobb replaced him. In contrast to Earnie, Randy was an up and coming fighter, with a 16-0 record. He was the much younger man at twenty four. But still, the thirty six year old Shavers could always punch and the fight was pretty much a fifty-fifty affair, as far as the odds were concerned. And this is how the action unfolded - with both men having equal amounts of success, at least for the first half dozen rounds of the fight.

Both men met at ring centre and got to work straight away. Shavers started more slowly than Cobb, however, and his speed of hand was noticeably second to that of Cobb's, who looked quite fast in comparison. Randy let his left jab go well and picked up the opening session. There was a brief burst from Earnie at the round's end though, as a decent right hand cracked into Randy's head.

There were more left jabs from the younger man in round two and, shockingly, Earnie looked to be tired already. Was this fight going to be his last? He had recently had retina surgery on his left eye and many feared for his sight as a result. These fears did nothing but worsen in this round, because a bad cut opened up over the eye in question. This was bad news for Earnie. He switched his attack to Cobb's body, while Randy just kept chopping away - putting his second round in the bank. A late shot from Shavers landed after the bell, in a fight that was already full of drama.

Shavers came out for the third and at last got something going. He connected with a couple of hard rights to Randy's head. Yet despite this, Cobb was unhurt. Both men looked very sluggish now, especially on their feet, and this gave Earnie more chances to land with his slow but powerful fists. Shavers was unloading well at the round's end, and won his first three minutes.

In the fourth, Cobb's left hand was starting to get lower and lower and both guys took turns in backing each other up. Shaver's cut was worse now and the blood started to run into his eye, affecting his vision no doubt. But Cobb was also cut now - over his right eye- and it was evident both were capable of inflicting damage on one another. Also evident was the fact that while neither man had too much in the way of skill, they were both full of heart. Both heavyweights were hammering out punches in this round. A round that Randy probably shaded on the scorecards.

After they were patched up to the best of their corner-men's abilities between rounds, the action resumed in the fifth. A big right from Earnie crashed into Randy's head, but he managed to soak it up. What punch taking ability he was showing. Earnie's best shots were merely bouncing off him! Unperturbed, Shavers let loose with a barrage of punches, practically all of which landed on Cobb - and flush! The reputation that "Tex" Cobb holds to this day - of having one of boxing's finest ever chins - was born in this fight! Earnie was really swinging - with both lefts and rights - but Cobb would not budge. Some in the crowd were on their feet at this point, and who could blame them? A contest of pure slugging was in full flow. A slow-motion slugfest it may have been, but it was thoroughly engrossing. Every fan in attendance was transfixed by the violence. Cobb came back at the end of the round to punish Shavers enough to make the round close, points wise.

In the sixth, Randy resumed his offensive moves and knocked Earnie backwards. There was no quit in the older man though, and he continued with his body work. Then Cobb slipped heavily to the canvas, making some believe a knockdown had been inflicted. But the referee, Harry Papacaralambolous, signalled no knockdown and the action carried on. Two very weary men were now simply knocking chunks out of each other. There haven't been too many fights quite like this one. "This has slowed down to a walk" said Don Dunphy who, along with Ken Norton and the aforementioned Gerry Cooney, was doing commentary. It had indeed. As the bell sounded both fighters staggered back to their stools, utterly fatigued. Again the round was close.

The flat footed warfare recommenced in the seventh. Although Earnie was trying to get some bounce into his legs now. He was soon rocked back into the ropes by a Cobb right though, only to come fighting back himself. This was not pretty, but it was a fight with a capital F! A short left to the jaw from Cobb jarred Shavers, but a big right hand from the man Muhammad Ali dubbed "The acorn" was his reply. Randy Cobb's defence really was nowhere to be seen. His rock chin was though, and because of this attribute he was able to launch another attack, one that had Earnie in really bad shape. He began slamming Shavers all over the ring, it was a real pasting he was taking now. His heart was as massive as ever, but he had next to nothing else left. Though still he tried to fight back. At the bell, he could barely get back to his corner, such was his state of near exhaustion. There were calls to stop the fight at this point.

As his corner people worked on his bad left eye, the referee looked closely. It was obvious what was on his mind. Round eight was permitted to start, however, and Cobb poured it on. Earnie had no balance at all now and was driven across the ring yet again. He was stuck in a corner taking shots as he stood doubled over in front of his tormentor. He was the very sight of a badly beaten fighter. After taking a most brutal looking pummelling, Earnie at last got out of the corner he'd been trapped in. Only to find himself in the same position in another corner. He hadn't thrown a punch back in a long time, and Cobb was simply pounding away at a frighteningly game, yet defenceless target. Finally, and mercifully, the ref dived in and stopped the beating. Randy Cobb was the winner. The time was two minutes and nineteen seconds of the round.

Earnie would carry on fighting until 1983, only to make comebacks in 1987 and, astonishingly, 1995 - when aged over fifty! But, despite wins over the likes of Joe Bugner, it was clear he had nothing much left to offer after the brutal fight with Randy Cobb. He is remembered today though, as the hardest ever heavyweight puncher.

Which goes to show just how granite like "Tex" Cobb's chin really was. He was to lose his very next fight - on points, of course - to the man who had commentated on his fight with Earnie, in Ken Norton. Randy then went on to the fight for which he is probably best remembered today. The one-sided affair with world champ Larry Holmes. This was the fight that so appalled Howard Cosell he quit commentating immediately afterwards. An act that prompted the ever quick witted Cobb to say "I can do my sport no greater service." Randy carried on until 1988, only to launch his own comeback in 1992 - a return that saw him unbeaten in ten fights. He also has an impressive list of movie appearances to his name.

For me though, I will always think of the Shavers fight whenever I hear Cobb's name. It was a fight that showed, in incredible fashion, what a heavyweight's heart should be like. Some of the division's current fighters ought to be made to watch this courageous effort!

Article posted on 11.07.2006



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