Hard-hitting heavyweight contender Shavers dies at 78

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Hard-hitting American heavyweight boxer Earnie Shavers, who fought Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes for world titles has died, the Ring magazine reported on Friday.

The Ring reported that Shavers died on Thursday, the day after his 78th birthday.

Shavers was born on August 31, 1944 in Garland Alabama. He was famed for the power of his punch. He won 74 of his 89 fights and 68 of the victories were by a knockout.

He turned professional in 1969 and fought twice for the world title.

Shavers lost to an ageing Ali at Madison Square Gardens in 1977 on points after the defending champion launched a furious attack in the 15th round.

Two years later, Shavers lost to Holmes in Las Vegas. Shavers knocked the reigning champion down in the seventh but by the 11th was in trouble and the referee stopped the fight.

Holmes later told Boxing News that Shavers punched harder than Mike Tyson.

"He could knock the hell out of it," Holmes said.

In between those two title bouts, Shavers faced former champion Ken Norton and knocked him out.