By Scoop Malinowski
Renaldo “Mister” Snipes was 25 years old and 22-0 when he challenged Larry Holmes for the World Heavyweight championship at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, PA in November 1981. The fight was televised nationally prime time on a Friday night by ABC, with Howard Cosell at the mic, and it turned out to be a thriller. Snipes, a former two-time Chicago City Golden Gloves champ decked the champ in the seventh round with a pulverizing right hand, eventually to lose by TKO in the 11th in one of the most memorable battles of the Easton Assassin’s eight year title reign. Snipes discusses his historic night…
Scoop Malinowski: What do you remember about your fight with Larry Holmes? Were you in top mental and physical shape?
Renaldo Snipes: “Oh yeah, I was in all my fights. I was always in good physical shape. I was always prepared. That’s one thing about all my fights, that people remember me for in the past, was always being in condition. Never in not one fight was I not in condition. What I remember about the Larry Holmes fight is was that he was down for over ten seconds [smiles].”
Scoop: Long count?
Renaldo Snipes: “Yes.”
Scoop: You landed a blockbuster right hand. Were you surprised?
Renaldo Snipes: “I was not surprised because almost all of my opponents that I fought I would always sneak that right hand in on them.”
Scoop: Remember how you set it up?
Renaldo Snipes: “Two jabs and a right hand.”
Scoop: Was that one of the best you ever landed? A perfect one?
Renaldo Snipes: “It wasn’t the best right hand that I had thrown. But it was a good right hand. You know, Larry did a good job. He got up and he came on like a great champion that he is.”
Scoop: What surprised you about Larry Holmes from that fight?
Renaldo Snipes: “Nothing surprised me. I always knew Larry had heart, good endurance, I knew Larry had good legs on him. I knew Larry had experience. So nothing from that fight was surprising to me.”
Scoop: You told me once it wasn’t his jab that was his best quality, it was his heart.
Renaldo Snipes: “I believe Larry had one of the best hearts in the heavyweight division, ever.”
Scoop: Do you feel Larry Holmes is one of the greatest heavyweight champs of all time?
Renaldo Snipes: “I think Larry is one of the greatest fighters ever, yes.”
Scoop: What was it about Holmes that was so difficult to offest against him?
Renaldo Snipes: “He had a good jab, he had good legs, he had good heart.”
Scoop: Did you ever meet with Larry and discuss your fight?
Renaldo Snipes: “We never talked about the fight. We always talk about being friends and everything, we never talk about the fight. But I have a lot of respect for him and he has a lot of respect for me. I see him a lot at fundraisers. I hadn’t seen him in over 20 years and all the sudden we just clicked and became great friends. And we talk all the time now.”
Scoop: Lasting memory of your title fight with Larry Holmes?
Renaldo Snipes: “I felt that I have nothing to regret. I feel good. I feel that I gave it my very best. And to fight against one of the great fighters that there’s ever been in the history of the game and still be able to walk around with my head up.”
Snipes’s last fight was in 1993 – a TKO 10 loss to 16-0 Cuban Jorge Luis Gonzalez. His final ring record stands at 39-8 (22 KO’s) including wins over Gerrie Coetzee, Jumbo Cummings, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad and Trevor Berbick – and losses to Greg Page, Tim Witherspoon, Alfredo Evangelista, Ricky Parkey, Tyrell Biggs and Orlin Norris. Snipes is 65 now and resides in New York City.
Full fight Holmes vs Snipes 1981