Almost 40 Years In The Making: Cooney-Holmes II Set?

When it comes to fights that had the most hype in the last 50 years, Gerry Cooney v. Larry Holmes was one of them. Now, 38 years after Holmes beat Cooney via TKO, the two are set to clash once again. That is, of course, under different circumstances.

In an interview with the New York Post, Cooney (28-3), Holmes (69-6) and promotor Lou DiBella are planning for a an exhibition bout between the the two fighters. A date and venue haven’t been picked out, but all involved were adamant the fight would involve a charity of some sort. Part of the proceeds will already be going to Holmes’ ‘Heart of a Legend’ charity. DiBella made it clear this was not going to be a violent encounter.

“I know it seems wackadoodle, but they’re not looking to kill each other,” DiBella stated. “I think these guys want to have some fun and they want another moment with each other in the spotlight. They’ve been talking about it for years.”

The fight between Cooney and Holmes back in 1982 was one of the most talked-about contests, especially because of the buildup. Promotor Don King and manager Dennis Rappaport held a narrative that race was  a factor in the fight for the WBC, The Ring, and lineal Heavyweight Titles. Multiple groups, including the KKK, were involved, forcing a heavy police presence. Being called “The Great White Hope”, Cooney was not in favor of the way this was being presented, and neither was Holmes, who spoke to Cooney following the bout.

“Larry said, ‘Listen, that’s just people talking, that’s not us,’” Cooney recalled.

The fight was a highly-contested one, with Holmes knocking Cooney down early. The latter fought back, landing body shots that hurt Holmes for just a little while. After a steady contest in the middle rounds, Cooney’s punches landed low several times, forcing the judges to deduct points. He was dropped a few more times by Holmes and had a deep cut before Victor Valle, Cooney’s trainer, threw in the towel in the 13th.

“I’ve been waiting 37 years to straighten this thing out,” Cooney stated as he laughed. “I don’t know for the life of me why we didn’t have a rematch. I learned so much from that fight.”

After that fight, Holmes went 29-6, facing and losing to Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson before ending his career in 2002 on a four-fight win streak. He ended up owning a few small businesses after boxing. Cooney only fought five more times after, with injuries as a factor. He won three in a row before losing to Michael Spinks and George Foreman, the latter via a second-round KO. Now, Cooney takes part in Fighters’ Initiative for Support and Training, an organization in which he founded, while also contributing to programming on SIRIUS XM radio.

The two became the best of friends after their fight in 1982, talking every so often. One of the key factors in the rematch is to have some fun. The other? To remind older fighters to stay in some sort of positive physical condition following retirement.

“My wife wants me to get back into shape,” laughed Holmes. “You know how it is, when you get older you get fat.”

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