April 8, 1995 in Sports

Holmes Hoping He’ll Have Ability To Answer Mccall

Michael Katz New York Daily News

He was in the room where he won the heavyweight championship almost 17 years ago, talking about fighting Bobby Czyz in the first defense of his second title. Yeah, he still complains and “everyone is suing me, even my 26-year-old daughter,” but Larry Holmes has developed the outsider’s sense of humor.

“What can Oliver McCall do to me that hasn’t been done to me before?” he said. “He knocks me out? Hell, Mike Tyson’s done that already.”

He’s 45 years old, a grandfather, a rich grandfather who should know this is not an old man’s game, but Holmes says to look at George Foreman, who’s 46 and the real heavyweight champion. “There’s only one heavyweight out there - maybe,” he said.

Holmes knows as much about boxing as anybody, knows enough not to want to fight Tyson again, but he doesn’t know what three years of prison has done.

“If I could get him in his first fight back,” said Holmes, looking past the 29-year-old McCall and Saturday night. “OK, when he’s still rusty.”

He had just worked out, the old body trimmer - or more accurately, not as fat - than usual for this comeback, maybe 234 pounds. He is holding court at the Caesars Palace Sports Pavilion, the scene of his split decision over Ken Norton in 1978. After that one, he didn’t know he was supposed to go to a press conference. Instead, he celebrated by jumping into the pool. At least he was wearing trunks, even if they were the ones he wore in the ring.

He was 28 then, and now he’s 45 and McCall said he wasn’t going to give age a second thought. His trainer, George Benton, said, “This whole fight depends on which Larry appears - the 45-year-old, the 35-year-old or the 25-year-old.”

In sparring 11 rounds, Holmes didn’t look as if he could beat Father Time, but he was still tapping his head, saying he was “wiser, and you compensate.”

The right hand hurts now. There has always been problems. His left biceps was damaged for the Norton bout. There was a detached retina and everything was “real dark” out of his right eye when he fought Evander Holyfield.

“I’m not crazy,” he said. “I don’t like to get punched in the nose. But it gives me two things. It gives me a spot in history and it gives me a few more bucks in the bank.”

The bank accounts are under constant assault. He jokes about his insurance company paying $280,000 to the police officer whose foot he stepped on when he was running across car tops chasing Trevor Berbick. That was his first comeback, when he beat Tim (Doc) Anderson. He jokes that his daughter sued him after slipping on ice in front of daddy’s home, laughs about how if he doesn’t fight Czyz it will be Doc Anderson.

And if he loses, as the 8-5 odds indicate, “I’ll quit right away.”

He snickered at McCall’s stories about rising from petty thievery to the title.

“I know what it’s like to be hungry,” he said. “I robbed people when I was young, too.”

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