Boxing legend, Earnie “The Black Destroyer” Shavers is regarded as one of the most powerful punchers in boxing history, having accumulated a record of 75-14-1 (69 Kos, with a 76.67% knockout ratio). He passed on Sept. 1 at one of his daughter’s homes in Virginia, a day after his 78th bornday.
He was born Aug. 31, 1944, in Garland, Ala., and his family soon relocated to Youngstown, Ohio. After a couple dozen amateur bouts, where he captured a national Golden Gloves and a national Amateur Athletic Union heavyweight title, he turned pro November 11, 1969.
“I was a puncher from day one,” Shavers noted during a 2016 interview.
He beat former world champs Vicente Rondón and Jimmy Ellis, as well as several top contenders, while compiling a record of 54-5-1 prior to challenging Muhammad Ali for the World Heavyweight Championship at Madison Square Garden Sept. 29 1977. Although he rocked The Greatest on several occasions, he lost a 15 round unanimous decision.
“It was a close fight with Ali and Shavers. Earnie hit him hard, and it lasted all day. If Earnie hits you today, it lasts until tomorrow. I tell you what, when Earnie Shavers hit Muhammad Ali, he felt it,” stated former Heavyweight World Champion Larry Holmes. “I always told Earnie that Ali was messed up and slow [because of his punches]. Earnie would say, ‘I didn’t do that, everyone else did it.’ I told him, ‘Nobody else hit like you, Earnie!’
His menacing look and shaven head led Ali to nickname him “the Acorn.”
Then on March 25, 1978, Holmes boxed circles around Shaves at Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace Sports Pavilion, winning a12-round unanimous decision. And on March 23, 1979, Earnie knocked out former champ Ken Norton in only 118 seconds.
During Holmes’ 4th title defense at Caesar’s Palace on Sept. 28, 1979, Shavers was receiving another boxing lesson from the Easton Assassin for the first six rounds, then in the seventh round, “Boom!” Shavers lands his right-cross on Holmes’ jaw, dropping him. He got up, survived the round, and stopped Shavers in the 11th round.
Following the fight he underwent surgery for a detached retina, and continued fighting for the next several years with mixed results, before retiring in 1995 and becoming an ordained Christian minister
Although he never received another title shot, Shavers competed against the top competitors from the heavyweight division’s glory era (1970s).
The Ring magazine recently ranked Shavers as the seventh-greatest puncher of all time.
Reports reveal Shavers had five daughters with his first wife, Laverne Payne: Tamara, Cynthia, Catherine, Carla and Amy; plus, four daughters from other relationships: Catherine, Lisa, Natasha and Latonya.
His vaunted punching power made him globally revered. In 1992 he released his documentary “Earnie D. Shavers, the Hardest One-Punch Hitter.”
Holmes concludes: “If they’d made me fight Earnie again, they’d have had to pay me a whole lot of money. No one really wanted to fight Earnie. He’d hit you, hurt you and it was Goodnight Irene. Earnie was a good guy and he never complained about anything.”