Turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks. 52-year-old Larry Holmes proved his mettle in a 10 round fight against Eric ‘Butterbean’ Esch on July 28, 2002. It wasn’t the first time Holmes had dusted off his boxing gloves since retirement – the seventh, actually – but it was the last fight of a legendary fighter with a record of 68 wins and only 6 losses during his career.
After the night was over, Holmes could say he was 69-6.
While the beginning of the fight started rather slowly, it was clear by the end Butterbean Esch stood little chance against the veteran fighter. Age had taken its toll on Holmes, but experience and patience triumphed over Esch, who was only used to fighting 4 rounds. This match lasted over twice that, trying the endurance of both athletes who were covered in sweat and exhausted between rounds.
By the end of the match, Holmes has a newfound respect for Esch.
“He’s more than a four-round fighter,” Holmes said. “He did not sit down once tonight. He’s big, he’s heavy. He doesn’t have all the skills, but he has the heart to fight 10 rounds.”
For the right amount of money, Holmes said he would gladly step back into the ring again. He made $250,000 from the match but acknowledged most promoters probably wouldn’t pay him much to fight in the future. It was a memorable night in Norfolk for the 7,000 in attendance, and a fitting sendoff for the victorious Holmes.