The Last Hurrah: Muhammad Ali vs. Larry Holmes


The fight between Larry Holmes and Muhammad Ali was billed as “The Last Hurrah.” It was a professional boxing session that was held in Las Vegas on October 2, 1980. The fight was for the WBC Heavyweight Championship. It was a popular event in the ‘80s that was watched by a record of 2 billion viewers from different parts of the world. 

If you’d like to learn more about this sporting event, read on as we’re giving you more information about the iconic fight between Larry Holmes and Muhammad Ali. 

Background of the Fight

Larry Holmes has been Muhammad Ali’s sparring partner for a long time. In fact, he lived with Ali, and they boxed hundreds of rounds. 

In June 1979, after Ali defeated Leon Spinks on September 15, 1978, to reclaim the WBA heavyweight title, he announced his retirement. But on February the following year, he told the Associated Press that he was 75% certain that he would return to the ring. With that, he agreed to fight John Tate on March 5, who was the new WBA heavyweight champion in a bout scheduled for June. However, on March 31, Tate lost the title to Mike Weaver when he got knocked out on the 15th round. 

With that, Ali announced during a press conference on April 16 that he would fight WBC Champion Larry Holmes. His announcement was a surprise as the press conference was only arranged for the contract signing for a fight between Ali and Weaver. He said that the negotiations for a Weaver fight fell apart when Bob Arum, Weaver’s promoter, issued new demands that were very unacceptable. 

It was officially announced on April 28, 1980, that Ali and Holmes would box in Rio de Janeiro on July 11, and it will be held at the 165-seat Maracanã Stadium. According to promoters Murad Muhammad and Don King, Ali would get $8 million, while Holmes would get $4 million. However, the boss of the stadium did not agree for the fight to happen there. He said that setting up the ring, seats, and other equipment there would destroy the grass. With that, the fight was officially called off on May 12. After that, Holmes signed to fight Scott LeDoux on July 7, whom he stopped in seven rounds. 

Muhammad Ali and Holmes signed to fight on October 2 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in July 1980. For this fight, Don King said that Ali would get $8 million and Holmes would be paid $6 million. For the fight, Caesars Palace created a temporary 24,790-seat outdoor arena. During the time, the live gate was $6 million, which was a record. 

Back then, Ali’s health had been a concern. That’s why the Nevada State Athletic Commission had him examined at Minnesota’s Mayo clinic before he was granted a boxing license. He checked into the clinic on the 23rd of July 1980, and a neurological exam was conducted by Dr. Frank Howard. Based on his report, Ali showed a slight degree of missing when he tried to touch his nose using a finger. In addition to that, he also had difficulty in coordinating the muscles used in speaking, and he did not hop on one foot with prospective agility. But according to the doctor, there were no specific findings that would prohibit Ali from fighting. The report was sent to the Nevada State Athletic Committee, and Ali was given a boxing license in Nevada. 

The Fight

Prior to the fight, Ali weighed in at 217 ½ pounds, which was his lightest weight since he fought and defeated George Foreman back in 1974. It was believed that Ali overused the medication Thyrolar while he was training and that it contributed to his inactive performance during the fight. 

There were no knockdowns on the fight between Ali and Holmes. However, Holmes dominated the fight and was given every round by all of the judges. After the 10th round, Angelo Dundee, Ali’s trainer, stopped the fight. With this, Holmes won through a technical knockout. 

The Fight’s Criticism

After the fight, it was revealed that Ali was examined at the Mayo Clinic, and the results were surprising. He had self-confessed with tingling in his hands and slurring of his speech. 

Based on the former ring doctor of Ali named Ferdie Pacheco, all the people involved in that fight should have been arrested. It was because, for him, the fight was an abomination and a crime. He left Ali’s camp in 1977. He said that he had sent all of the medical results of Alu to Angelo Dundee, Ali, Jabir Herbert Muhammad, and Veronica Porche Ali. He noted that if Ali wanted to continue, he would have no shot at a normal life. He also said that he received no reply from the recipients about his warning. 

In 2012, Ali had seen Pacheco for the last time and told him that he was right. For Pacheco, Ali may not have passed away in 2016 if he had stopped when he asked him.


Muhammad Ali’s fight against Larry Holmes is indeed among the most iconic sporting events back in the 1980s. Despite Ali’s losing in this fight, he would always be remembered as The Greatest when it comes to boxing. We hope this helped you learn more about the fight between Larry Holmes and Muhammad Ali. For more popular sports events, you can check out our list of the Top Iconic Sporting Events of the 80s.

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