At the age of 78, one of the greatest knockouts in the history of boxing – Ernie Shavers – left this world.
The Black Destroyer, as he was nicknamed, would go down in history with a record of 74-14-1, with 68 of those 74 victories coming by way of knockout.
“Only God Hits Harder Than Me”Shavers liked to say about himself.
Former boxer and later actor Randall Cobb once defined it by saying: “Ernie Shavers could punch you in the neck and break your ankle.”
Boxing fans still remember his match against the legend Muhammad Ali. Shavers fought twice for the world title, but lost both matches.
In 1977, the Black Destroyer faced off against the legendary Ali at Madison Square Garden. The match will go down in history with its spectacle. After 15 tough rounds, Ali managed to defend his title after a unanimous decision.
Throughout the match, Shavers looked to land his powerful right hand, but it never “went in”. However, after the match Ali stated: “Ernie hits so hard that my relatives in Africa felt it.”
Ali adds that Shavers “is more powerful than Joe Frazier and George Foreman. He hits really hard.” In his autobiography, Cassius Clay admits that “when Shavers hit me, I could hear bells ringing and sirens.”
Shavers’ second World Heavyweight Championship match came in 1979. Ernie then lost by TKO to Larry Holmes in Las Vegas.
Shavers played 89 professional matches between 1969 and 1995 in which he recorded an impressive 68 knockouts.
Outside the ring, the Black Destroyer tries his hand at the cinema. When it’s clear that his career is on the wane, he gets a job on the crew of Rocky 3.
During a sparring session with Sylvester Stallone, the star of the film urges him to start hitting harder: “Come on! Hit me right!” Then Shavers lets go and delivers such a bomb to the actor’s face that Stallone barely recovers from. Legend has it that what saved Sly was Ernie knocking him out with his weak, left hand.
“I’ve never been closer to death than that moment,” Stallone said afterward. According to eyewitnesses, after standing up, Sly was taken into the bathroom to vomit.
The knockout cost Ernie Shavers his strip job. The boxer was supposed to play Clubber Lang (the opponent of Rocky Balboa in “Rocky” 3). Subsequently, the role went to the famous wrestler Mr. T.