VERONA, NY -- Turning Stone hosted "Kings of the Ring: A Conversation with Mike Tyson and Larry Holmes" today to promoted this week's ESPN Friday Night Fights (see fact sheet below), promoted by Iron Mike Productions, at the resort casino in upstate New York.
Longtime sports columnist for the Syracuse Post-Standard and Syracuse.com, Bud Poliguin, served as the moderator, asking the two Hall of Famers and world heavyweight champions a series of questions, before the floor was opened for the many fans in attendance to ask Tyson and Holmes questions.
Here are some of the highlights:
Poliguin opened by noting Tyson and Holmes had a combined career record of 119-12, including a total of 44 world title fights between them.
In 1988, Tyson, 21, stopped Holmes, 38, in the fourth round in Atlantic City for the WBC, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles
Holmes: "What I remember was Don King knocking at my door around 9 at night. I was retired two years. Don said he wanted me to fight somebody he said he knew I could beat. I asked him who and he said, Mike Tyson. I said I can't beat Mike Tyson. Don said, what if I give you 3 ½ million dollars, and I said: 'Where's Mike at?' I'm just glad he didn't kill me. He knocked me down a few times but I didn't feel it because the first time he hit me I was numb. After the fight Mike said he loved me and I said, 'Why'd you knockout my ass?' Mike's a great guy."
Tyson: "It was a great opportunity to be in the ring with one of the great fighters of all time. It was a milestone in my career. He didn't have time to prepare. I never fought the great Larry Holmes. I had no delusions; by all means, I didn't fight the Holmes who fought Ali.
"I was very objective in the ring, nothing personal, but I'd have hit my mother. If I had mercy on him, he may have knocked my ass out. He didn't have enough time to prepare when he fought me. Don didn't give him the opportunity."
Holmes: "I'm glad Mike beat me that day or else I'd have nothing to talk about."
Highlight fight of their respective careers
HOLMES: "Kenny Norton because so many people said I couldn't do it, my legs were too small, and I was just a copy of Muhammad Ali. But I did the work and had the dedication."
TYSON: "Buster Douglas. I needed that fight to make me a better person and fighter and have a broader perspective of myself and boxing."
Concussions in boxing
TYSON: "I'm sure I had some concussions. When I signed my pro contract at 17 there was an unwritten clause that it was possible that you'd die. We knew and saw it but didn't think it could happen to us."
HOLMES: "I never thought it would happen to me. My style was to move here and there. I didn't get hit hard too often. Mike knocked me down, I got up, I thought the next was a slip, and he knocked me down again. I thought I'd get up and hit him with an uppercut but my arm got caught in the rope. I got hit hard by Ernie Shavers, too."
TYSON: "That was a feat of strength. He looked like he got shot by a shotgun. It was amazing.
HOLMES: "I was amazed, too."
Tyson as a promoter and a fighter to watch Friday night
TYSON: "We have a young kid from Pittsburgh, Sammy Vasquez. He's a sensational fighter and a war veteran. We've promoted two shows on ESPN and one on ShoBox. In those three we either tied or broke the record for viewers. I'm grateful to be on ESPN again."
Favorite Boxing Movie
HOLMES: "Rocky, the first one, but I don't like the guy playing him."
TYSON: "Raging Bull."
Sport they would have been in if not boxers
TYSON: "Just a fighter, I never wanted to be anything but a fighter."
HOLMES: "Fighter.....and running back for the Dallas Cowboys."