Money, fights and sex: 'get it while you can'
From the importance of a good jab to the acceptance of sex before fighting - former world heavyweight champion Larry Holmes readily handed out advice to top New Zealand boxers Joseph Parker and Robbie Berridge today.
Holmes welcomed the two and their Kiwi entourage into his Champ's Corner bar and restaurant in Easton, on the outskirts of Philadelphia in the US.
A grandfatherly chat evolved into a long and casual dinner, surrounded by the memorabilia Holmes collected through 38 years of fighting including ruling the world from 1978-85.
Grounded at first, but warming to the eager attention he was receiving, the 64-year-old delivered some gold to the young Kiwis in technical and general terms.
They soaked it up ahead of their fights at the Sands Casino on Sunday night with Holmes enjoying their company so much, he said he would do "everything I can" to attend.
He also indicated a willingness to come to New Zealand, even possibly for December's Fight For Life event.
Holmes said the best fighting advice he could offer the Kiwis today was the need for an effective jab, a weapon he won universal acclaim for.
"You make them drunk with your jab, then you mug them," he said.
"You've got to flick that, you've got to whip it" he implored, holding his left hand close to his heart and then unleashing it with incredible speed.
Holmes became animated, rising from his chair to demonstrate hand work and footwork and correct techniques.
"Go out and kick arse ... when in doubt always stick that jab out. Keep your hands up, be fast, and be first. And don't be scared."
Parker said that jab advice alone was worth the trip to meet Holmes. Parker said his coach Kevin Barry had rated Holmes' jab as the best in the business and the one to model his own on.
"I've watched a lot of his fights and he has got the best jab. Kevin has told me a lot about it. We always talked about Larry and how fast and effective his jab was.
"I think this shows me that Kev is teaching me the right things. Champions do it and now I'm starting to do it myself. His speed with his jab was the best.
"That was just amazing he took the time out to see us. It's an honour to actually meet the guy I've talked about. He knows everything there is about boxing.
"Dedication, hard work and money - he is money driven, it's get it while you can. If he comes along (to Sunday's fight) that would be amazing. I'll have to put on a good performance."
Holmes raised some eyebrows and some laughs when he readily aired the topic of sex ahead of fighting.
"If you want sex, go get it," he smiled. "It will help you relax ... even the night before a fight. I did it."
Holmes said the relaxation was a crucial ingredient as well as wise training.
"Be dedicated. Hard work aint that easy but it's fair. But don't leave it all on the roads running or in the gym," Holmes said, emphasising inside the ropes was the place to excel.
Holmes also had some valuable offerings on longevity. Sprightly and clearly sound of mind despite his long time in the game, he said the key was not getting hit.
"Don't take the shots. Go in and do your thing and then get out of range.
"Some boxers can't talk because they got hit too much," he said noting the physical decline of fellow great Muhammad Ali as an example.
Holmes said boxing was a tough game and that deserved reward. Money was clearly a motivator for him - and still was.
"It's all about the money. If you can't get the money, don't do it. I could make you a champion," he told rising heavyweight star Parker.
"Where's a contract? I'm like [promoter] Don King, I could steal you," he joked.
Holmes, with all the confidence of a man who defended his heavyweight title a staggering 20 times, told Parker's father Dempsey: "the smartest thing you did is you brought him here to see me."
Holmes liked the look of Parker, especially his height.
"He's a big guy. He has the opportunity. Saturday night I'll see what he can do. He's still young and you don't learn overnight. He seems to have good support from people with goodness in their hearts," Holmes said of the 22-year-old.
Holmes believed the heavyweight division was "wide open" as Parker starts to stake his claim, having lifted to No 15 on the WBO rankings inside two years.
Holmes had little time for the current fighters, questioning the abilities of the Klitschko brothers Wladimir and Vitali, and also criticising them for hiding behind pay-per-view walls that denied the public the enjoyment of seeing world champions.
"How do I know about people we don't see?" he asked. "They're nice guys, I've met them. But I don't know about them because they don't fight here (in the United States)."
As for Klitchkos' intimidating size, Holmes scoffed: "You hit them right, they will fall."
He believed the lack of American talent at the top of the heavyweight ranks and other divisions was through "a lack of desire".
Holmes' long-time friend and adviser, Jim Blasco, helped arrange today's meeting and said Parker and Berridge should feel honoured for the way he opened up to them.
"That's advice you can't buy. Larry doesn't give actual hitting advice to many people," Blasco said.
* Duncan Johnstone was flown to the United States by Duco Promotions