Earnie Shavers

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Earnie Shavers
Shavers in 2005
Real name Earnie Dee Shaver
Nickname(s) The Black Destroyer
The Acorn
Puncher of the Century
Rated at Heavyweight
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Reach 79 in (201 cm)
Nationality American
Born (1944-08-31) August 31, 1944 (age 71)
Garland, Alabama, U.S.
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 89
Wins 74
Wins by KO 68
Losses 14
Draws 1

Earnie Dee Shaver (born August 31, 1944), best known as Earnie Shavers, is an American former professional boxer who challenged twice for the world heavyweight title. He is considered by many boxing experts to be the hardest puncher of all time, holding a 91.8% knockout win ratio. He knocked out 50 opponents in three rounds or less; with 24 in the first round. He is best known for his fights with Larry Holmes and Muhammad Ali; despite losing these contests, he scored a heavy knockdown against Holmes, and had Ali badly hurt in the second round as well as during the final rounds of their fight. The most notable wins of Shavers' career were his first-round knockouts of Jimmy Young, Jimmy Ellis, and Ken Norton, and his second-round knockout of Joe Bugner.

Shavers officially retired in 1995, at the age of 50. In 2001 he released an autobiography about his life and boxing career, titled Welcome to the Big Time. Today, he attends boxing events as a special guest or autograph signer, and also works as a motivational speaker.

Amateur career[edit]

Prior to turning professional, Shavers had a short but notable amateur career. He was the 1969 National AAU Heavyweight champion.

Early professional career[edit]

Known as the "Black Destroyer", Shavers compiled an impressive record, winning 44 of his first 47 fights by knockout; mostly against unremarkable opposition. His KO streak included 27 consecutive knockouts, of which 20 victories were in the first round. He suffered setbacks with losses to Ron Stander and Stan Johnson.

He began to rise through the ranks of the heavyweight division after he hired a Cleveland-based promoter and ex-con named Don King to be his manager. His wins included a novice Jimmy Young who would later become a top contender. Stepping up the class of opposition, he came to public prominence with a first-round KO of one time WBA heavyweight champion Jimmy Ellis. His progress was halted when he was KO'd in the first round by Jerry Quarry which was followed by another loss to a journeyman Bob Stallings. Shavers then had a thunderous match with hard hitting Ron Lyle but was stopped after 6 brutal rounds. He then knocked out hard hitter Howard King and beat powerful prospect Roy Williams in a brutal back and forward battle in which Shavers was nearly knocked out. The match Shavers always said was one of the toughest of his whole career.

Shavers vs Ali[edit]

Shavers fought Muhammad Ali at Madison Square Garden on September 29, 1977.[1] Coming into the bout, Shavers had a record of 54-5-1, with 52 knockouts. Ali nicknamed Shavers "The Acorn" because of his shaved bald head, unlike early appearances. The fight was shown in prime time broadcast television by NBC, which rarely did prime time fights (ABC tended to get the Ali fights) and had the judges' scoring announced after each round to help avoid any controversial decision. Ali's cornerman Angelo Dundee had a crony (Baltimore matchmaker Eddie Hrica) in the dressing room watching the broadcast, and would get signals from his friend on the scoring. In the second round, Shavers hurt Ali badly with an overhand right. Ali exaggerated his motions enough that it seemed he might be play acting and Shavers hesitated. On the scorecard they exchanged rounds. Ali won the fifth decisively. To win the fight Ali had to survive the last three rounds. Shavers, whose stamina was suspect before the fight, came alive in the 13th round. In the 14th, he battered Ali about the ring. Before the 15th, (according to the story by Sports Illustrated's great boxing writer Pat Putnam) "Ali was on very wobbly legs."

Realizing Ali needed to last three more minutes, Dundee told him, "You don't look so good. You better go out and take this round." In a furious final round, the two men tagged each other, but Ali closed strongly, nearly dropping Shavers in the last 20 seconds. He won a unanimous decision. The next day, Garden Match Maker Teddy Brenner encouraged Ali to retire by stating the Garden would never make another offer to host an Ali fight. Brenner also thought that Shavers deserved the nod against Ali. The fight made the cover of Sports Illustrated, with "ALI'S DESPERATE HOUR" featuring a photograph of Shavers scoring with an overhand right.[2] Fight doctor Ferdie Pacheco also urged Ali to retire after noting the damage Ali had absorbed against Shavers. Ali later said Shavers was the hardest puncher he ever faced, famously stating "Earnie hit me so hard, it shook my kinfolk back in Africa" although Ali had previously used this amusing punch line in reference to various other hard hitting opponents.[3]

Shavers v Norton/Holmes[edit]

In a mandatory title challenge eliminator he knocked out former champion and Ali beater Ken Norton in the first round, possibly the best win of his career.

Shavers then fought for the title against skilled champion Larry Holmes at Caesars Palace in Pardise on September 29, 1979, exactly two years after his defeat by Ali. Shavers knocked Holmes down in round seven but was himself knocked out in round eleven after taking punishment. Holmes, known for his ability to take a punch, later said that Shavers' blow was the hardest he had ever taken in his career.

Later career[edit]

The Holmes bout was the last big match for Shavers. In 1980, he was knocked out in the seventh round by durable prospect Randall "Tex" Cobb. He never again fought for the world title. In 1982 he fought Joe Bugner, also on the comeback trail. Bugner was knocked down in the first but was stopped by cuts in the second round.

Shavers continued to fight professionally for several years, retiring in 1995 after losing to Brian Yates. Many thought he should have retired after his upset loss to lower contender Bernardo Mercado. Shavers suffered a similar retinal eye injury as boxer Sugar Ray Leonard.

Fighting style[edit]

Shavers was a heavy-handed puncher who stalked his opponents, setting them up for his thunderous right, which was responsible for many of his knockouts. Although Angelo Dundee in a Sports Illustrated mid 1970s article explained "He can get you out of there with any kind of shot," basically meaning left hook, right cross or right uppercut. Several famous tough chins had fallen to each of those punches. Bugner and Ellis to the uppercut.

At times lacking grace and accuracy, Earnie had a reputation for exhausting himself before round 7, this was probably due to insufficient training funds. Critics noted he rarely won a bout that went beyond 8 rounds. Well trained later, he fought Ali effectively for 15 rounds and later Holmes for 11.

Earnie would throw punches against any legal area he could reach, exposed or covered, relying on his tremendous power to wear down his opponents and exploiting any opening. His fighting stance produced a short and powerful image. His chin was his weakness. He could however "box" as well as slug. Notably, he injured his right hand early in a 10-round match against rated craftsman Henry Clark and so then nearly jabbed Clarke's head off, beating him at his own game as it were, to win on points.

Video and book[edit]

Shavers published a video of highlights of his career in 1992 titled Earnie D. Shavers, The hardest One-Punch Hitter, and later an autobiography.

Life after boxing[edit]

Shavers retired in 1983 after retinal problems were discovered. After retirement, he became an ordained Christian minister and moved to Phoenix, where he preached for many years. He moved to England to pastor a church there in the early 2000s. He has been on the Benny Hinn TV show several times.

During the early 1980s while preparing for the feature film Rocky III, Sylvester Stallone explored the possibility of using a real heavyweight boxer in the role of James "Clubber" Lang by inviting Earnie Shavers to spar with him. Shavers initially refused to hit Stallone with anything other than a soft jab. This frustrated Stallone, who asked Shavers, "C'mon Earnie, show me something real." Earnie responded by punching him once near the liver, forcing an immediate retirement; Stallone later said: "that nearly killed me. I went straight to the men's room and threw up".[4]

Shavers has visited Ali several times and he says he, Ali, and George Foreman have become very good friends over the years. Shavers accepted the invitation of the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International[5] to preach at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

Earnie also works in Liverpool in the UK, as head of security at Hannahs' bar, where he is very much respected. The staff of Hannah's bar say that he does not work there now. Until five years ago (2009) he worked at Yates' Wine Lodge in Liverpool "meeting and greeting". On occasion Shavers was a troubleshooting referee in professional wrestling after his retirement.

He is also a Patron of The Shannon Bradshaw Trust,[6] a children's charity based in Warrington, Cheshire, helping children with life-threatening conditions, and their families.

Earnie speaks to pupils at Barr Beacon Language College in Walsall. Earnie also gave a speech 26 February 2008 at The Streetly School in Walsall, which was based upon helping kids make the right decisions in life.

Personal life[edit]

Shavers was married to Laverne Payne and has five daughters from their union, Tamara, Cynthia, Catherine, Carla, and Amy. He also has four daughters from other unions, Catherine, Lisa, Natasha and Latonya. He has 24 grandchildren. He worked at General Motors in Lordstown, Ohio in the late 1960s. Shavers made a guest appearance on the Irish TV programme The Late Late Show hosted by Ron Lyle where the two fighters discussed their previous bout that had happened a month earlier. Shavers was a frequent visitor to the pub "Roddy Bolands" in Dublin. There is a signed picture of Shavers drinking a pint of Guinness on the wall there.


Shavers made a short comeback in the late 1980s and early 1990s. After a few wins and losses he retired in 1995 after being KO'd by Brian Yates in round 2.

In 2003, Shavers was ranked number 10 among boxing's greatest punchers in history by The Ring. Within the sport of boxing, he is widely considered to be the hardest puncher of all time.[citation needed]

Shavers finished his career in 1995 with a record of 74 wins (68 by knockout, 23 inside the first round), 14 losses and 1 draw.

Professional boxing record[edit]

89 fights, 74 wins (68 knockouts), 14 losses (7 knockouts), 1 draw[7]
Result Record Opponent Type Rounds Date Location Notes
Loss 74-14-1 United States Brian Yates KO 2 24 Nov 1995 Wisconsin Ho-Chunk Casino, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, United States
Win 74-13-1 United States Brian Morgan UD 8 19 Sep 1995 Nebraska Omaha, Nebraska, United States
Win 73-13-1 United States Larry Sims KO 1 16 May 1987 Ohio Cincinnati Technical College Gymnasium, Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Loss 72-13-1 United States George Chaplin DQ 9 1 Mar 1983 Maryland Civic Center, Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Win 72-12-1 United States Rahim Muhammad UD 10 29 Jan 1983 Texas El Paso, Texas, United States
Win 71-12-1 United States Tony Perea KO 7 5 Nov 1982 Texas El Paso, Texas, United States
Win 70-12-1 United States Phil Clinard TKO 2 14 Oct 1982 Oklahoma Duke's Country Nightclub, Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
Win 69-12-1 United States Chuck Gardner KO 2 5 Sep 1982 Wisconsin Wales, Wisconsin, United States
Loss 68-12-1 United States Walter Santemore UD 10 17 Aug 1982 Louisiana Blackham Coliseum, Lafayette, Louisiana, United States
Win 68-11-1 United States Billy Joe Thomas KO 5 22 Jun 1982 Texas Astro Arena, Houston, Texas, United States
Loss 67-11-1 United States James Tillis UD 10 11 Jun 1982 Nevada Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, United States
Win 67-10-1 United States Danny Sutton TKO 7 15 May 1982 South Carolina Yorktown Aircraft Carrier, Charleston, South Carolina, United States
Win 66-10-1 United Kingdom Joe Bugner TKO 2 8 May 1982 Texas Reunion Arena, Dallas, Texas, United States Bugner down in the first round. Fight stopped due to Bugner's cut
Win 65-10-1 United States Ali Haakim UD 10 22 Apr 1982 Michigan Grand Traverse Hilton, Traverse City, Michigan, United States
Win 64-10-1 United States Jeff Sims TKO 5 11 Dec 1981 The Bahamas Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre, Nassau, Bahamas Shavers down in first round. Fight was announced as stopped at 1:30 of Round 4
Win 63-10-1 United States Mike Rodgers KO 2 9 Sep 1981 Michigan Civic Center, Lansing, Michigan, United States
Win 62-10-1 United States Terrel Williams KO 2 29 Jul 1981 Michigan Civic Center, Saginaw, Michigan, United States
Win 61-10-1 United States Ted Hamilton KO 2 17 Oct 1980 Florida Auditorium, West Palm Beach, Florida, United States
Loss 60-10-1 United States Randall Cobb TKO 8 2 Aug 1980 Michigan Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, United States
Win 60-9-1 United States Leroy Boone UD 10 14 Jun 1980 Ohio Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, United States
Loss 59-9-1 Colombia Bernardo Mercado TKO 8 2 Aug 1980 New Jersey Great Gorge Resort, McAfee, New Jersey, United States Mercado down in the third, and then floored Shavers in the seventh before the stoppage.
Loss 59-8-1 United States Larry Holmes TKO 11 28 Sep 1979 Nevada Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, United States For WBC Heavyweight title. Holmes was down in round 7.
Win 59-7-1 United States Virgin Islands Eddie Parotte TKO 3 (10) 25 May 1979 Ohio Richfield, Ohio, United States
Win 58-7-1 United States Ken Norton TKO 1 23 Mar 1979 Nevada Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, United States
Win 57-7-1 United States Harold Carter KO 3 4 Dec 1978 Michigan Saginaw, Michigan, United States
Win 56-7-1 United States John Girowski KO 4 9 Oct 1978 Virginia Coliseum, Hampton, Virginia, United States
Win 55-7-1 United States Harry Terrell TKO 2 20 Jul 1978 Virginia The Dome Civic Center, Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States Terrell floored twice in the first round. Terrell did not come out for the second.
Loss 54-7-1 United States Larry Holmes UD 12 25 Mar 1978 Nevada Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, United States Eliminator for WBC Heavyweight title.
Loss 54-6-1 United States Muhammad Ali UD 15 29 Sep 1977 New York (state) Madison Square Garden, New York City, United States For WBC & WBA Heavyweight titles.
Win 54-5-1 United States Howard Smith KO 2 16 Apr 1977 Nevada The Aladdin, Las Vegas, United States Smith down three times in first round.
Win 53-5-1 United States Roy Williams KO 10 11 Dec 1976 Nevada The Aladdin, Las Vegas, United States Shavers down in round 10 before stopping Williams.
Win 52-5-1 United States Henry Clark TKO 2 28 Sep 1976 New York (state) Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
Win 51-5-1 United States Henry Clark UD 10 28 Mar 1976 Île-de-France Pavillon de Paris, Paris, France
Win 50-5-1 United States Tommy Howard KO 3 13 Nov 1975 Pennsylvania Howard Johnson's, Monroeville, Pennsylvania, United States
Loss 49-5-1 United States Ron Lyle TKO 6 13 Sep 1975 Colorado Denver, Colorado, United States Lyle was knocked down in the 2nd, Shavers down in the 6th round.
Win 49-4-1 Jamaica Oliver Wright KO 3 8 May 1975 Maryland Steelworkers Hall, Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Win 48-4-1 United States Rochelle Norris KO 10 9 Apr 1975 New York (state) Binghamton, New York, United States
Win 47-4-1 United States Leon Shaw KO 1 11 Feb 1975 Florida Orlando, Florida, United States
Draw 46-4-1 United States Jimmy Young PTS 10 26 Nov 1974 Maryland Capitol Center, Landover, Maryland, United States
Loss 46–4 United States Bob Stallings UD 10 4 Nov 1974 New York (state) Felt Forum, New York City, United States Shavers down in 9th round.
Win 46–3 United States Roy Wallace KO 1 16 May 1974 California Civic Auditorium, San Jose, California, United States
Loss 45–3 United States Jerry Quarry TKO 1 14 Dec 1973 New York (state) Madison Square Garden, New York City, United States
Win 45–2 United States Jimmy Ellis KO 1 18 Jun 1973 New York (state) Madison Square Garden, New York City, United States
Win 44–2 United States Harold Carter KO 1 12 May 1973 Ontario Arena, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Win 43–2 United States Jimmy Young TKO 1 19 Feb 1973 Pennsylvania Spectrum, Philadelphia, United States
Win 42–2 United States Leroy Caldwell KO 2 25 Oct 1972 Ohio High School Gym, Newton Falls, Ohio, United States
Win 41–2 United States A.J. Staples KO 1 22 Sep 1972 Ohio Moonlight Gardens Ballroom, Canton, Ohio, United States
Win 40–2 Venezuela Vicente Rondon UD 10 26 Aug 1972 Ohio Canton, Ohio, United States
Win 39–2 United States Lou Bailey KO 2 5 May 1972 Ohio Akron, Ohio, United States
Win 38–2 Canada Bob Felstein KO 5 22 Apr 1972 Ohio Akron, Ohio, United States
Win 37–2 United States Charley Polite KO 3 6 Apr 1972 Ohio Packard Music Hall, Warren, Ohio, United States
Win 36–2 United States Elgie Walters KO 2 15 Feb 1972 Texas Beaumont, Texas, United States
Win 35–2 United States Ted Gullick KO 6 1 Feb 1972 Ohio Packard Music Hall, Warren, Ohio, United States
Win 34–2 United States Del Morris KO 3 30 Nov 1971 Indiana Bryant, Indiana, United States
Win 33–2 United States Elmo Tex Henderson KO 4 29 Oct 1971 Nevada Stateline, Nevada, United States
Win 32–2 United States Charlie Boston KO 2 17 Oct 1971 Ohio Akron, Ohio, United States
Win 31–2 United States Pat Duncan KO 5 28 Sep 1971 Nevada Reno, Nevada, United States Won USA Nevada State Heavyweight title.
Win 30–2 United States Richard Pittman KO 1 11 Aug 1971 Nevada Silver Slipper, Las Vegas, United States
Win 29–2 United States Bill McMurray KO 1 13 Jul 1971 Nevada Sahara Tahoe Hotel, Stateline, Nevada, United States
Win 28–2 United States Bill Hardney KO 1 29 Jun 1971 Ohio Western Reserve Field, Warren, Ohio, United States
Win 27–2 United States Chuck Leslie KO 10 10 Jun 1971 Nevada Sahara Tahoe Hotel, Stateline, Nevada, United States
Win 26–2 United States Willie Johnson TKO 4 24 Apr 1971 Florida Curtis Hixon Hall, Tampa, Florida, United States
Win 25–2 United States Mac Harrison KO 2 21 Apr 1971 Ohio Akron, Ohio, United States
Win 24–2 Nigeria Young Agabab KO 1 24 Mar 1971 Nevada Silver Slipper, Las Vegas, United States
Win 23–2 United States Steve Carter TKO 1 3 Mar 1971 Nevada Silver Slipper, Las Vegas, United States Carter down three times.
Win 22–2 United States Dick Gosha TKO 5 17 Feb 1971 Ohio Armory, Akron, Ohio, United States
Win 21–2 United States Johnny Mac KO 3 3 Feb 1971 Nevada Silver Slipper, Las Vegas, United States
Win 20–2 United States Nat Shaver KO 1 16 Jan 1971 Florida Convention Hall, Miami Beach, Florida, United States
Win 19–2 United States Lee Estes KO 2 6 Jan 1971 Nevada Silver Slipper, Las Vegas, United States
Win 18–2 United States Jim Carefelli KO 2 11 Dec 1970 Ohio Austintown Fitch High School Gym, Youngstown, Ohio, United States
Win 17–2 United States Bunky Akins KO 1 7 Dec 1970 New York (state) Madison Square Garden, New York City, United States
Win 16–2 United States Johnny Mac TKO 4 18 Nov 1970 Ohio Austintown Fitch High School Gym, Youngstown, Ohio, United States
Win 15–2 United States John Hudgins KO 1 14 Oct 1970 Ohio Canton, Ohio, United States
Win 14–2 United States Don Branch KO 1 12 Sep 1970 Ohio Cooper Arena, Columbus, Ohio, United States
Win 13–2 Jim Daniels KO 1 29 Aug 1970 Ohio Austintown Fitch High School Gym, Youngstown, Ohio, United States
Loss 12–2 United States Ron Stander KO 5 11 May 1970 Nebraska Omaha, Nebraska, United States
Win 12–1 Frank Smith KO 4 14 Apr 1970 Ohio Canton, Ohio, United States
Win 11–1 United States Ron Asher KO 1 23 Mar 1970 Ohio Fitch High Gym, Youngstown, Ohio, United States
Win 10–1 United States Art Miller KO 1 6 Mar 1970 Ohio Canton, Ohio, United States
Win 9–1 United States Abe Brown TKO 5 27 Jan 1970 Florida Orlando, Florida, United States
Win 8–1 United States Joe Byrd KO 3 24 Jan 1970 Ohio Canton, Ohio, United States
Win 7–1 United States Abe Brown KO 1 7 Jan 1970 Ohio Akron, Ohio, United States
Win 6–1 United States Gene Idelette KO 1 26 Dec 1969 Florida Orlando, Florida, United States
Win 5–1 United States Chico Froncano KO 1 18 Dec 1969 Ohio Canton, Ohio, United States
Win 4–1 United States J. D. McCauley KO 2 4 Dec 1969 Ohio Akron, Ohio, United States
Win 3–1 Lee Roy KO 3 21 Nov 1969 South Dakota Rapid City, South Dakota, United States
Loss 2–1 United States Stan Johnson UD 6 13 Nov 1969 Washington (state) Arena, Seattle, United States
Win 2–0 United States George Holden KO 1 11 Nov 1969 Florida Orlando Sports Stadium, Orlando, Florida, United States
Win 1–0 United States Silas Howell KO 2 6 Nov 1969 Ohio Akron, Ohio, United States


  1. ^ Mulvaney, Kieran (2011-11-28). "Remembering Ron Lyle". ESPN. Retrieved 2012-03-15. 
  2. ^ Keown, Tim (2012-01-17). "70 reasons to celebrate Muhammad Ali". ESPN. Retrieved 2012-01-17. 
  3. ^ Bob Westerdale (2007-09-04). "Junior's close Shave with ring legend Ernie". The Star. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 
  4. ^ Romano, Frederick V. (August 27, 2004). The boxing filmography: American features, 1920–2003. McFarland & Company. p. 171. ISBN 978-0-7864-1793-3. 
  5. ^ Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International FGBMFI UK & Ireland empower men for life
  6. ^ Shannon Bradshaw Trust
  7. ^ http://www.boxrec.com/list_bouts.php?human_id=000320&cat=boxer

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
George Foreman
United States Amateur Heavyweight Champion
Succeeded by
Ron Lyle