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As the world continues to mourn the great Muhammad Ali, many are reflecting on the champ’s stellar boxing career. In his second to last fight, Ali fought Larry Holmes. Ali and Holmes, former training and sparring partners, met in the ring on October 2, 1980 in Las Vegas. It was reported that Holmes didn’t want to take the fight, but Ali went forth the challenge just the same.

It was a brutal, one-sided battle as Holmes battered Ali and handed him his only loss by knockout. A 14-year-old Mike Tyson saw the fight alongside his trainer, Cus D’Amato, who put the young pugilist on the phone with his hero. During the phone call, Tyson promised to avenge the loss as he said he was offended seeing Holmes beat Ali so badly.

Eight years later, Tyson would have his chance. The Tyson vs. Holmes fight, billed “Heavyweight History,” took place January 22, 1988 in Atlantic City. Holmes was not the fighter he was once, having come out of retirement to take on Tyson. Tyson told ESPN that before the match with Holmes, Ali whispered into Tyson’s ear, “Remember what you said, get him for me.”

As expected, Tyson demolished Holmes with a series of punishing hooks and the fight was ended in four rounds. Holmes later admitted that he stayed down a third time in the fight realizing he had nothing to prove by continuing to allow Tyson to beat him up. Tyson had another record-breaking connection to Ali actually as well.

When Ali was 22, he became the youngest fighter to win a championship when he won the title from then champion Sonny Liston. Floyd Patterson, another of Ali’s opponents, was once the youngest to do it at age 21. Tyson broke both records  20 when he defeated reigning champion Trevor Berbick at 20-years-old.  Ali’s final fight occurred against Berbick in 1981.

(Photo: You Tube Screenshot)


Little Known Black History Fact: Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson  was originally published on