Holmes-Berbick fight is better than feature

April 08, 1991|By Steve Wyche | Steve Wyche,Knight-Ridder

HALLANDALE, Fla. -- Former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes made quick work of his opponent last night as he ended a 3 1/2 -year retirement.

The post-fight free-for-all was more exciting.

After his first-round knockout of Tim "Doc" Anderson at the Diplomat Hotel, Holmes, 41, got into a bizarre brawl with former heavyweight champ Trevor Berbick.

The fracas started when someone asked Holmes if he would fight Berbick, who happened to be present at the post-fight news conference. Holmes said he would not because he did not respect Berbick as a person.

When Holmes left, Berbick launched into a tirade in which he made comments about one of Holmes' friends.

Berbick, a 36-year-old Miramar, Fla. resident, was escorted out of the room and hotel. He started talking to reporter Brian Mercurio of radio station WPBR.

"Holmes came out and started kicking Berbick in the ribs," Mercurio said.

A few kicks landed and a few missed. Then the ex-champs started wrestling on the ground. Punches were thrown and landed by both boxers.

Police and bodyguards separated the men. Berbick started running and was chased, apparently by somebody from Holmes' entourage. Police intervened, and Berbick began describing the incident to onlookers, who had been waiting for valets to retrieve their cars when the brawl erupted.

Holmes then came bounding over a car and lunged at Berbick, but he slipped to the pavement. He got up but was restrained until Berbick could leave.

Earlier, Holmes kept a crowd of more than 2,000 waiting more than 90 minutes before he made his entrance into the ring.

The bell signaling his official comeback to professional boxing sounded at 9:54 p.m. Two minutes and three seconds later, the fight was over.

The bout went quicker than it had taken the ring announcer to introduce the fighters.

"I must say to you, 'Do not judge by what you saw tonight,' " Holmes told the crowd from the ring after the fight. "Three and a half years is a long time away."

He promised to get better.

Holmes, who weighed in at 236 pounds, improved his record to 49-3. The 49th victory had evaded him since 1985, when he lost his International Boxing Federation heavyweight title to Michael Spinks. He went on to lose to Spinks again and then Mike Tyson in January 1988.

Anderson, a 32-year-old from Daytona Beach who weighed in at 202 pounds, tried to run, but a confident Holmes chopped him down with body blows.

About 90 seconds into the fight, Holmes drilled Anderson (25-14) low to the ribs. Anderson bent over in pain, and Holmes wasted little time putting Anderson away.

"He felt he could take me around the ring and throw some fluky punches and my legs would go," Holmes said. "I am so happy I took him out the old-fashioned way -- with the body."

The comeback was disappointing for Holmes in a way: That easy a victory over that easy an opponent won't get him an immediate big payday.

"A lot of people are going to say I didn't fight anyone to make it back," Holmes said. "But the only thing that matters is what me and my family think."

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