R.I.P. to a tough fighter. He brought a lot of thrills to the game. One of the best punchers of all time. It's a shame that he didn't have better stamina, or a better defense. He was one of my favorite fighters to watch, though.
Earnie Dee Shavers is the hardest puncher in boxing history.
"He hit me and the floor came up!" - Ron Lyle. James "Quick" Tillis and Larry Holmes, the only common opponents of both Shavers and Tyson both have said on camera in no uncertain terms that Earnie's power was infinitely greater, and the footage of their bouts completely supports that.
James "Quick" Tillis": (These comments are directly from Tillis on his initiative via telephone and on camera interviews in his own voice. James is as originally quotable as Tex Cobb.) "People ask me about Tyson and Shavers – let me tell you, there’s no comparison [as far as superior punching power]. None whatsoever! Shavers, he hit so hard he could turn horse piss into gasoline! He hit so hard he could bring back tomorrow. Tyson hit like a sissy in comparison. I beat Shavers, and I know I beat Tyson. I wanted a rematch with Tyson real bad, but Shavers, no way! When he hit me and knocked me down, I saw pink mice and rats smoking cigarettes! That fight [with Shavers] was the toughest 30 minutes of my life. “The Acorn” was one bad dude, let me tell ya. Against Tyson, with my new diet (no milk, wheat, or meat), I didn’t get tired and that boy was in trouble. He never would give me a rematch.” I agree. Tillis-Tyson was scored on a rounds basis, meaning Tyson's flash KD only counted for a round, not two points. I had Tillis the winner, 6-4
Earnie had underrated stamina and boxing skills. Produced three tenth round KOs, won round 14 on all three cards against Ali, and dropped Tillis on his face in round nine with a right that James had no business beating the count from. Check out his first fight against Henry Clark in Paris (Larry Merchant's broadcasting debut) for how skilled his boxing could be with a bruised right hand as he completely out jabs and outmaneuvers Clark with outstanding mobility (bewildering Merchant into virtual silence). After their rematch on the Ali-Norton III undercard (this time with JQ as an experienced and astute analyst), Clark, who was never decked and the only common opponent of Shavers and Liston stated very clearly that Earnie was a much harder puncher than Sonny. Ron Lyle and KO Magazine were always emphasizing his intelligence and what a smart, sharp puncher he was. He knew what he was doing and understood his limitations. In his rematch with a peak Holmes, Larry had to hold Shavers back in round two alone with 60 hard jabs.
Back to underrated stamina and punching power retention. First career Foreman NEVER produced a KD beyond round five, and George always banked on a KO. Earnie went for the decision with Tiger Williams and in Henry Clark I, but also produced late round KDs with some regularity
Who did NOT state Earnie was the hardest puncher they ever fought? Jimmy Ellis, who never knew what hit him and was otherwise not ever laid out like that by a single punch during his career, the legendary Great Contender Jerry Quarry, who actually walked through Earnie's bombs (a huge part of Jerry's legend) and never even knew he'd been hit until viewing the videotape the next day in amazement. (For his part, Shavers said he really blasted Jerry. JQ himself said Mac Foster hit the hardest of anybody Jerry could recall being hit by, in Mac's greatest career performance at that.)
Earnie Shavers was Muhammad Ali's true Manila. Nobody else ever took head shots from Earnie like that. I believe that final successful title defense of the GOAT shortened his life by years and rendered him mute and shaky.
Leroy Caldwell has said Lyle hit about the same as Foreman, but that Earnie hit harder than Ron and George put together. Shavers was the only man to ever floor Jimmy Young. Earnie did it in both their bouts, each time with a left hook.
Tex Cobb and Joe Bugner each said Shavers was the hardest striker they ever fought. Cobb had a PKA bout with Big John Jackson, a highly skilled kicker, and Tex stated that past prime Earnie punched much harder with both hands than Jackson was able to kick him with.
Ken Norton was widely considered to have the most impressive heavyweight physique of any star prior to Mike "Hercules" Weaver. Earnie dazed him with a left hook, then decked him with a right to that chiseled body.
Shavers came back from a standing eight count in a fabled tenth round to wreck Tiger Williams with a single long right off the ropes. Earnie had very long arms and could optimize his reach as well as anybody of his era. He hammered the bodies of both Tiger and Tex. Put him in Manila against a wide open and shorter armed Foreman, I'm definitely not putting money on George. (Quoth Foreman on camera, "I never fought Earnie Shavers, thank God!")
Prior legendary punchers used two ounce, five ounce and six ounce gloves. Earnie did his work with eight and ten ounce equipment.