Earnie Dee Shaver (born August 31, 1945), better known as Earnie Shavers, is a retired American professional boxer and is widely considered the hardest puncher of all time.
Muhammad Ali, Joe Bugner, Larry Holmes, Randall "Tex" Cobb, Ron Lyle and Ken Norton all credited Shavers as being the hardest puncher they had ever faced in the ring.
Shavers took up boxing at the late age of 22, yet two weeks later he won his first ever fight by knocking out Jim Daniels in the first round.
Earnie worked out daily in Warren, Ohio. He was generally in and out of the top ten ratings for no less than about a ten year period.
Shavers is listed as 10 on Ring Magazine's list of 100 greatest punchers of all time. His right uppercut and cross were his two biggest shots.
But as Angelo Dundee once respectfully said of Shavers, 'He can get you out of there with any shot'.
Shavers was a heavy-handed puncher who stalked his opponents in order to set them up for his thunderous right, which accounted for many of his knockouts.
Sometimes ungraceful and without accuracy, Earnie was known to exhaust himself before round seven, perhaps due to a lack of proper training facilities, and critics argued he rarely won a bout that went longer than eight rounds. But he fought Ali well for 15 rounds and Holmes for 11.
Earnie would throw punches against any legal area he could reach, exposed or covered, relying on his tremendous power to wear down his opponents and exploiting any opening.
In fighting stance, he made a short and powerful image. His chin was perhaps not as strong as ideal but h could 'box' as well as slug. Famously, he hurt his right hand early in a 10 round match against rated Henry Clark and then nearly jabbed Clark's head off, beating him at his own game as it were, to win on points.
Shavers finished his career in 1995 with a record of 75 wins (69 by knockout, 23 inside the first round), 14 losses and 1 draw.
SaddoBoxing: How did you first get into the sport of boxing, Earnie?
Earnie Shavers: I was invited by a friend to go to a local gym and spar around. When the guys at the gym saw the power I had they encouraged me to start boxing.
SB: Muhammad Ali once said that you hit him so hard that it "shook his kinfolk back in Africa". What was it like to fight Muhammad Ali and was he the greatest?
ES: It was an honor to fight Muhammad and although he was a great fighter, he loved to dance and move a lot. I trained for a fifteen round fight as we knew Muhammad would go the distance. I hurt him probably three times, I was tired in the last round but he never hurt me at all.
SB: Where was the favourite venue where you loved to box?
ES: My favorite venue was Madison Square Gardens. It gave me a sense that I had really made it to the big leagues.
SB: Earnie Shavers, you are regarded as the hardest punchers in the history of boxing. You boxed Joe Bugner in 1982 and dropped him in round one before winning in two rounds because of a severe cut to Bugner's head. Please give us your thoughts on Bugner.
ES: Joe Bugner was a great fighter, I don't think he was prepared for the hits that I gave him in that fight.
SB: Was your punch ever tested mechanically to see how hard you hit?
ES: No, my punch wasn't tested mechanically; only the opponents that I hit could tell you how hard my punch was.
SB: What was the weakest part of your boxing ability?
ES: It was not so much the weakest part of my ability, but my age was a factor as I started at an older age than most of the guys in my era.
SB: Why did a matchup between yourself and George Foreman never happen? It's been said that George ducked you; care to set the record straight?
ES: I wanted to fight George Foreman but he didn’t want to fight me. I would have knocked Foreman out. He had long arms but I would have got close to him an knocked him out eventually, George was a great fighter also.
SB: Is it true that you were considered for the part of Clubber Lang in Rocky 3? If so, tell us about it and why you didn't get the part?
ES: Yes, I was asked to audition for the part of Clubber Lang. They flew me out to California and Sylvester Stallone asked me to hit him for real and not hold back. He did his own stunts and wanted it to be as realistic as possible, so I opened up on him and it was too hard so I didn’t get the part. He was a real nice guy, though.
SB: I know all your fights were hard, but who was the toughest opponent you faced and why?
ES: I would have to say Roy Williams. He was a strong fighter and also he was taller than me. I knocked him out in the tenth round.
SB: Have you any regrets about your boxing career, Earnie?
ES: The fight game was good to me and if I had to say one regret, it was the sacrifices that my ex-wife Laverne and my five daughters had to make.
SB: About James "Quick" Tillis, you fought each other at Caesar's Palace in 1982 and James won. I believe you are very good friends to this day. Have you any good stories to tell about you and James, as he is a very witty guy?
ES: James and I are good friends, that fight just wasn’t my night. I still play out defeats in my mind as to what I could have done differently, even though I realize someone has to lose.
SB: Which modern day boxer do you most like to watch and why?
ES: I really don't have a favorite fighter. The fighters now-a-days are in a different mindset than we were back in my era.
SB: I ask everyone that I interview this question; do you think that the Mayweather v. Pacquiao fight will happen and if so, who will win and why?
ES: Personally, I don't think the fight will happen but if it was to happen, I think Mayweather would win.
SB: Have you anything that you would like to say to your fans and our website viewers?
ES: I would like to tell my fans that I really love them and thank them for all the support given to me during my career. If it wasn't for the fans, I wouldn't be where or what I am today.
A huge thank you goes out to Earnie Shavers' daughter Tamara, without whom this interview wouldn't have been possible.