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2019 Boxing For Change

Four boxing legends come to support Children’s Treatment Centre

June 3, 2019 GregPeerenboom,
Special to the Standard-Freeholder

Rather than for themselves, four heavyweight boxing legends were in the ring Saturday promoting for the success of the Children’s Treatment Centre.

Former heavyweight champs Larry Holmes, Michael Spinks (who also held the light-heavyweight crown) and Ray Mercer as well as top contender Gerry Cooney, were special guests for Boxing for Change. The four boxers are well versed in the art of promotion – a necessary quality to help sell tickets for their matches.

That creative bravado was on display to the enjoyment of the approximately 2,000 guests. Most of the banter was between Holmes, who had one of the longest championship reigns in the sport’s history, and his 1982 super fight opponent, ‘Gentleman’ Gerry Cooney.

“Yeah, Gerry and I fought for one reason, we fought for the money – that’s what motivated Gerry, that’s what motivated me,” Holmes said.

“We didn’t think about winning or the losing, we thought of the $10 million in our pockets.” The fight was notable for the racial tensions (between the white Cooney and the black Holmes) that were played up by the fight’s notorious promoter, Don King (who Holmes didn’t mince words with that night).

“We had all of that shit going on,” Cooney said, noting the sportsmanship of his opponent who was on the wrong side of the racism.”And (Holmes) said (during the instructions), ‘Let’s have a good fight.”

And it was, going almost 13 out of 15 full rounds before Holmes won on a technical stoppage. Besides Cooney, the other two former boxers also met Holmes in the ring.

Spinks moved up from light-heavyweight to beat a then-ageing Holmes to become the first light-heavyweight to win the heavyweight title.

Mercer, an Olympic gold medalist, took on Holmes when the latter mounted a comeback well into this 40s. Despite an 11-year age difference, Holmes out-foxed Mercer for an upset victory.

“I probably would have had a chance but I was fighting him and his wife,” Mercer said alluding to Mrs. Holme’s constant cheering for her husband, sparking laughter from the crowd.

“Larry Holmes was always my idol, so fighting your idol wasn’t easy. If not for his wife, I would have had a draw.”

While the four continue to enjoy the limelight from their past accomplishments, Cooney said they all paid their dues – an essential lesson for any aspiring boxer.

“It’s a tough game. You’re on the road, you miss holidays, you’re without your family,” Cooney said, remembering training that took place in Upper state New York in below zero temperatures.

“After when the fight was over, when all is said and done, you get to sit down and say, ‘Hey, it was a great time.'”

When queried about his fight with the legendary Muhammad Ali, Holmes said he was fortunate for the opportunity to start professional boxing while a sparring partner for Ali.

“Ali was a great guy, and fighting him was something, a dream I never would do,” he said. Holmes, at the top of his game, methodically wore down the ex-champ. He claimed to the Cornwall fans that he held back his power enough so he could win without hurting his idol.

The night also featured three well-contested amateur fights, and two celebrity matches: one between former city councillor and play-by-play announcer David Murphy and Cornwall police officer and decision winner Dave McLean, and a second between another Cornwall cop, Chris Sullivan, and New York state firefighter James Docteur, which was stopped in favour of Sullivan in the first round by celebrity referee Tony Luis.

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