The sports world was saddened last week when news emerged that heavyweight boxing legend Earnie Shavers – whose notable opponents included Larry Holmes and Muhammad Ali – died at the age of 78, as the Associated Press reports.
Shavers' passing was confirmed by close friend and former boxer Kenny Rainford, who indicated to the outlet via phone that the longtime sports standout "had a hard career, traveled a lot and slowed down all the sudden," with his last days spent at the Virginia home of one of his children.
As the Daily Caller noted, Shavers is widely acknowledged as the hardest punching boxer in the history of the sport, notching an overall professional record of 74-14-1 between the years of 1969 to 1995, according to statistics cited by ESPN.
Among Shavers' most notable bouts was his 1977 fight with Ali, in which the latter won a unanimous decision following 15 rounds to win the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association championships in the heavyweight class.
Another memorable point in Shavers' career came in 1979, when he faced Larry Holmes in a heavyweight title match in which Holmes ultimately won via a technical knockout after 11 rounds.
Reminiscing about the late boxer on Friday was Randy Gordon, former New York State Athletic Commissioner, who praised Shavers as "one of the nicest guys in the world, until he got into the ring and tried to take your head off."
Though he garnered the nickname "Black Destroyer" for his powerful exploits in the ring, as Bleacher Report explained, Shavers later became known as "The Knockout Evangelist" after becoming an ordained minister in 1989 after retiring from the sport for the second of an eventual three times.
According to the AP, Shavers died just one day after his birthday, and Rainford indicated that a funeral service is set to be held on Sept. 17 in Ohio.
As a result of his reputation as an exceptionally hard-hitting athlete willing and able to keep pace with some of the greatest fighters his sport has ever seen, and because of the respect he earned from his peers outside the ring, Shavers has left a legacy that will undoubtedly endure in the minds of and hearts of boxing fans for generations to come.