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Holmes headlines Canastota class of '08

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Source: AP

Former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes, now 58, leads the International Boxing Hall of Fame's class of 2008, the list released on Tuesday.

Representing the modern era along with Holmes are junior welterweight Eddie Perkins and late middleweight Holman Williams. Len Harvey, Frank Klaus, and Harry Lewis were elected to the old-timer's category, and Dan Donnelly for the pioneers.

It is Holmes, though, that leads the pack. Considered by some to be underrated, Holmes held the heavyweight title for eight years, defeating Ken Norton in 1978 (after beating Earnie Shavers in an eliminator bout to get the shot), and finally losing to ex-light heavyweight champion Michael Spinks in the 1985 Ring Magazine Upset of the Year. Holmes also lost the rematch to Spinks.

Holmes was, essentially, the bridge between Ali and Tyson, a great champion in his own right. His list of challengers is sometimes criticized, but Holmes beat several good fighters. Being that bridge between defining heavyweight attractions, though, has its own drawbacks. Holmes is the guy between the guys. It's not his fault.

After briefly retiring after the second loss to Spinks, Holmes came back two years later to get walloped by the young, unstoppable Tyson, and came back again in 1991, starting a comeback that saw him upset and derail a young Ray Mercer in '92. Later that year, he went a full 12 with champion Evander Holyfield, losing by decision, and at 45 years old in 1995, he lost again to Oliver McCall, his final world title fight.

Holmes last fought in 2002, winning a ten-round decision against ex-toughman star Eric "Butterbean" Esch. How many guys can say they fought Ali, Tyson, Holyfield and Butterbean?

Congrats to Holmes and the rest of Canastota's next class.

Career records, via BoxRec.com:

Larry Holmes
Eddie Perkins
Holman Williams
Len Harvey
Frank Klaus