Earnie Shavers knocked out Sylvester Stallone in Rocky 3 audition?Written by Leroy Cleveland
Sylvester Stallone was a brave guy back in the day.
A few years ago, TMZ caught up with Stallone who recounted his late 1970s pseudo rumble with then-top 5 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Roberto Duran.
When asked if he thought he could hold his own in a ring session with then-49 year old fight legend Bernard Hopkins who was fighting on HBO that weekend, Stallone replied:
"No. I learned my lesson from Duran."
"Professionals and [acting] are two different things," Stallone uttered ... "I kind of interpreted it."
"They're the real deal."
Allegedly, a brave Stallone stepped up to the lightweight legend, and paid a price.
But did he really learn his lesson?
According to Ralph Wiley, currently or formerly of ESPN, Stallone's next... er... victim was an over-the-hill former top five heavyweight contender known for his legendary punching power.
Is it true? Was the fearsome Earnie Shavers almost Clubber Lang in Rocky 3?
Here's a recount, as delivered by Mr Wiley of ESPN.
"Got a call and went out to try out for this part in 'Rocky,' the Mr. T Rocky, I think, stated the heavyweight tough man.
"Got out there and got put up in a good hotel for a change."
"Then got in the ring with Mr. Stallone. He's not a real tall fellow, is he?"
"Well, it don't matter. Anyway we were circling"
"I was pulling my punches. He said, 'Don't hold back, Earnie. Hit me."
"I said, 'I can't do that, Mr. Stallone.' "
"I could've, but I wanted that job, and I didn't think that would help me get it. But he kept on pushing me, saying, 'C'mon, show me something,' and sort of hitting me, sort of."
"Finally, I said, 'OK,' and I give him a little one under the ribs, where the livers of boxers are. Don't know about actors. If they got livers, they probably are in the same place."
"Anyway, Mr. Stallone called time -- he didn't say nothing, just kinda doubled over a little bit and sort of just waved his hand -- and then somebody helped him out of the ring, and to this bathroom or somewhere, and he sent word out later that they couldn't use me."
"It was like what they call an audition, and I guess I blew it."
Sylvester Stallone must have been a literal real-life Rambo.
Did he really ask THE Earnie Shavers to not hold back?
He later said: "That nearly killed me. I went straight to the men's room and threw up".
Stallone was bigger than Duran, who was a lightweight at the time, so it's understandable why Sly might have wanted to test his mettle against a smaller man... But Earnie was a heavyweight - and a monstrous puncher.
Earnie, by this time, was a bit past his prime but at 36 or 37 he could still bang. Reflexes may go, but an aging fighter retains his power years after his skills are no longer elite.
Five years later, heavyweight legend Larry Holmes said of Shavers, "Earnie hit me harder than any other fighter, including Mike Tyson."
The fight legend added, "Being hit by Mike Tyson was like getting hit by a speeding Ferrari. Being hit by Earnie Shavers was like being hit by a Mac Truck."
Heavyweight tough man Randall "Tex" Cobb, known for his ability to absorb punishment in the ring, once stated, "Earnie could punch you in the neck with his right hand and break your ankle."
Earnie Shavers facts
- Shavers, 44-2 with 43 knockouts (at the time) , knocked out former WBA Heavyweight Champion Jimmy Ellis in the first round on June 18, 1973.
- Shavers fought Muhammad Ali for the World Heavyweight Championship on September 29, 1977. He hurt Ali badly with a right hand in the second round, but Ali survived the round and went on to win by a fifteen-round unanimous decision in a grueling fight.
- Earnie knocked out Ken Norton in the first round in a WBC title eliminator on March 23, 1979.
- Earnie fought Larry Holmes for the WBC Heavyweight Championship on September 28, 1979. After losing the first six rounds, Shavers dropped Holmes with a devastating right in the seventh round. Holmes fell as though he had been hit by a sledgehammer, but he was able to get up and survive the round. Holmes came back to stop Shavers in the eleventh round.
- After losing to Holmes, Shavers was diagnosed with a detached retina. He had an operation to reattach the retina and continued his boxing career. The procedure was performed by Dr. Ronald G. Michels, who later operated on Sugar Ray Leonard when he suffered a detached retina.
- Shavers recorded 23 first-round knockouts and 50 knockouts within the first three rounds.
Quotes About Shavers
Muhammad Ali: "Earnie hit me so hard, it shook my kinfolk back in Africa."
Ron Lyle: "Hey man, that's the hardest I've ever been hit in my life. And George Foreman could punch, but none of them could hit like Earnie Shavers did. When he hit you, the lights went out. I can laugh about it now, but at the time, it wasn't funny."
In 2003, Shavers was ranked number 10 among boxing's greatest punchers in history by The Ring. Within the sport of boxing, he is widely considered to be the hardest puncher of all time.
Shavers finished his career in 1995 with a record of 74 wins (68 by knockout, 23 inside the first round), 14 losses and 1 draw.
Shavers highlights below