Eyewitness to History: Scranton nationally televised fight

Eyewitness To History

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A sold-out venue. A national television audience. In March 1983 the late Scranton Mayor and showman James Barrett McNulty orchestrated the World Boxing Council Heavyweight Championship Bout at the Waters Armory.

It was March of 1983. Scranton Mayor James Barrett McNulty had arranged for a nationally televised boxing match from Scranton’s Waters Armory. The participants of ‘the Easton Assasin’ Larry Holmes, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, and Lucien Rodriguez, the European champion. Here is a story from our archives of a preview of that upcoming boxing match.

“Round 1 could have been fought this morning at Lake Scranton, except the hands of time just weren’t working fast enough. Both Holmes and Rodriguez were taking on the lake just minutes apart. The Rodriguez group had just begun its trek around the rain-soaked pathway when the Holmes entourage rounded the far corner. Their paths never crossed and Holmes said it was a good thing,” reported Sue Miller of Newscene 22.

“‘How you doing Larry, asks Joe Butash. ‘Alright. I want everybody to watch us. Right here Scranton live when I knock out Lucien Rodriguez,’ said Holmes ‘He just went the other way’, says Miller, “He knows better,”” remarks Holmes.

“On this day 10 years ago (March 21, 1973), Larry Holmes threw his first professional punch for $63 at Scranton CYC. And today to mark the anniversary, the mayor paid tribute at City Hall,” said Miller.

“It epitomizes the true definition of a champion. A hero. A savior, a leader, a friend. Since he has not only fought in Scranton but continues to fight for Scranton and all of the people of northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Mayor Barrett McNulty.

“I turned down a lot of money to come here, I want you all to know that. But over my five years as reigning as heavyweight champion of the world, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, I made a lot of money. And I always said as long as I have my ability and my health, which I feel that I am blessed by God that I’m able to come back and say these things, I will continue to make money,” said Holmes.

“Another group of champions were also included in the homecoming. The University of Scranton Royals, who just captured the Division III National Basketball title (Scranton over Wittenberg 64-63 at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan) were also on hand. And when champs meet champs, there is always excitement,” reported Miller.

Holmes, the Easton Assassin, won a unanimous decision over Rodriguez. According to the Boxing Hall of Fame website, the crowd was 6,700 at the old Scranton Armory. The Saturday afternoon fight was carried live on NBC Sports!

Holmes’s all-time record is 69 wins and six losses. Larry was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008. All told, ‘the Easton Assassin fought 10 times in the Electric City, nine times at the beginning of his illustrious career, and the nationally televised fight of March 27, 1983.

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