Nicknamed Hercules by Ken Norton for his rock solid physique, Mike Weaver won by the knock out and lost by the Knockout.
He is best known for his Knockout wins over John Tate, Carl the Truth Williams , Gerrie Coetzee and his knock out losses to Larry Holmes, Michael Dokes and Pinklon Thomas.
In late 1978 Weaver got a new team and manager and reeled off five straight knockouts, two of which came over top ranked opponents. In October 1978 he came off the floor to knock out hard hitting Colombian Bernardo Mercado in 5, and in January 1979 knocked out hulking old foe Stan Ward in 9 to win the USBA heavyweight title.
World title challenge to Larry Holmes
These wins helped get him a high profile World title fight with reigning and undefeated WBC champion Larry Holmes in New York’s Madison Square Garden in June 1979. New cable channel HBO bought the rights to the fight as Weaver was so lowly-regarded the fight was seen as a mismatch and the networks didn’t want anything to do with it (Weaver was 20-8 to Holmes’ 30-0).
But Weaver proved far better than expected, however, and gave Holmes a really tough battle. Finally Holmes would rally with that great champion reserve by decking Weaver with sharp uppercut in the 11th and stopping him on his feet in the 12th.
In March 1980 fought John Tate for the WBA title, in Tate’s backyard of Knoxville, Tennessee. Tate was an amateur star from the 1976 Olympic team. As a pro he had put together a 20-0 record and won the vacant WBA title by decisioning South African Gerrie Coetzee over fifteen rounds, in front of 86,000 hostile fans in Pretoria, South Africa.
Weaver v Tate produced one of the divisions finest knock outs ever. The giant taller Tate dominated Weaver for all the first 10 rounds. But then with sheer determination a battered Weaver suddenly turned it around, pushing Tate backward. But he’d left it ‘too late?’ noted the commentator, as only 5 rounds remained and Tate was expected to resume his lead. However with only 40 seconds left in the 15th round, Weaver caught Tate bouncing off the ropes towards him with a truly lethal left hook. It dropped Tate to the canvas out cold for well over a minute. Press pictures showed Tate sound asleep whilst Weaver did a handstand alongside to celebrate.
In October 1980 Weaver made his first defense, traveling to Sun City, South Africa, to fight Gerrie Coetzee. Weaver was hurt and nearly knocked down in the 8th round but rallied down the stretch and knocked Coetzee out in the 13th round. Coetzee a good boxer/puncher had never previously been down, amateur or pro.
In 1981 Weaver outpointed the spoiler James “Quick” Tillis over 15 rounds in Chicago to retain his title after a year’s inactivity.
Weaver’s last fight was against Larry Holmes in 2000, Weaver lost by Knockout.
Smallthoughts:Old School Tuesday salutes… Mike Hercules Weaver