Some dates, when they roll around, instantly make a fight fan think about a special fight. Today, June 9th, is one such day and date. It was of course June 9th of 1978 when Larry Holmes and Ken Norton rumbled for 15 superb rounds in Las Vegas It was a fabulous fight for 14 rounds, but the 15th round ensured this one would be recognised by all as super-special. Those final three-minutes of warfare have often been called the three greatest minutes in world heavyweight title fight history.

The fight was literally up for grabs going into the final round, even as the battle was on the three cards. Whoever won the last round would won the fight, and would walk away with the WBC heavyweight crown. Norton had been awarded the title by the governing body as a result of his close points win over Jimmy Young, this in a final eliminator for the WBC title.

Leon Spinks had refused to fight Norton, instead opting to again face the man he had upset to become world ruler in February of 1978, this being Muhammad Ali; with Spinks losing to Ali in the lucrative rematch. So, without winning the title in the ring, Norton was champ. Against the unbeaten Holmes, Norton would make his maiden defence.

And though Holmes edged Norton, the fight from 46 years ago today elevated both men. The fight Holmes and Norton gave us remains a treasured one, and this will always be the case.

One man who was there at ringside, once again, is Jerry Izenberg, and the great scribe recalled the fight when speaking with me a while back. Like the rest of us, Jerry was amazed by what he saw in that 15th round.

Q: Is Holmes-Norton in the top 5 greatest ever heavyweight title fights in your opinion?

Jerry Izenberg: “Well, I don’t know about the whole fight. But the 15th round, that’s the best single heavyweight round – for one reason. Holmes’ right biceps muscle was hurt, and I helped get him together with a therapist who was working on me. And he said [to Holmes] ‘if you get hit on the biceps, you won’t be able to use the arm.’ And he got hit on it around the tenth round and Norton caught up, and on my score card they were dead-even when they went to the last round. In the beginning of the round, Norton hurt him. And he [Holmes] said, ‘to hell with it, I gotta use the left arm.’ And he almost knocked Kenny out. That round was great because he had to come back and win the second half of the round to win the fight and the title.”

It was indeed astonishing seeing these two heavyweight warriors throwing as much leather in the final round as they had thrown in earlier rounds when they were fresh. The stamina levels were on another level! Holmes showed a second or a third wind, as did Norton.

In the end, Holmes won via razor-thin scores of 143-142 twice, the third judge awarding the fight to Norton via the same score. Norton had fought his last great fight, while Holmes would go on to rule until 1985.

I bet I’m not the only fight fan who will be rewatching Holmes WS Norton round 15 one more time today!

YouTube video

Read the full article here