I agree with Pat Putnam's high estimation of Larry Holmes's boxing skills (Holmes Had a Spoonful, May 30). However, I am puzzled by his relegation of Holmes to a rank below that of Rocky Marciano and Sonny Liston. If there is a more overrated figure in boxing annals than Marciano, his name escapes me. Marciano's major victories—over Joe Louis, Jersey Joe Walcott and Ezzard Charles—came when his opponents were past their prime. Archie Moore, who at the time of his title bout with Marciano was at least 38 and an overblown light heavyweight to boot, actually dropped Rocky. Indeed, it seems unlikely that Marciano, with his singular lack of reach and height—no heavyweight champ since Tommy Burns has been shorter—would have been able to get past Holmes's pistonlike jab. This is not to mention the fits Holmes's dazzling combinations and superb footwork would have given him, or the fact that Marciano would not have been able to combat Holmes's most undervalued asset—his ring generalship. Moreover, Marciano fought in an era—the 1950s—that many of the sport's pundits regard as boxing's dark age.
Liston, on the other hand, was a heavyweight of no mean consequence, but he lacked the quickness and guile to be effective against a fighter of Holmes's transcendent abilities. One need only point to the artful surgery performed on him by a young Muhammad Ali, a boxer whose style and execution resembled the current champion's, to get an idea of the difficulties Liston would have faced in a bout with Holmes.
Pat Putnam says, " Holmes falls short of only Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Sonny Liston and Rocky Marciano." Then he states that "all the rest" would have come up short, "some for no other reason than their antiquated styles."
I have a high regard for Holmes's boxing ability and power, but I can only assume that Putnam is too young to have ever watched Jack Dempsey, who in his prime would have demolished Ali. Marciano was an enigma. Liston was overrated, as was Ali. Louis was truly great. But if Putnam thinks that the styles of Gene Tunney, Harry Wills and Jack Johnson would have been no "match for the science of Holmes," I regret that I will never be able to take his bets.
JOHN T. MORGAN
West Hyannisport, Mass.
The '30s and '40s were the decades when boxing attained its highest levels, so the term "antiquated" can hardly be applied to men such as Jersey Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles and Max Schmeling, all of whom I feel would have defeated a comparatively inexperienced Holmes. It can also be argued that the very lack of style of a man such as the frenzied, powerful Jack Dempsey would have proved too much for a rather methodical Holmes.
In comparing eras, all factors must be considered: How, for example, might Holmes have fared over 25 rounds ( Jim Jeffries vs. Tom Sharkey, 1899) or 61 ( Jim Corbett vs. Peter Jackson, 1891)?
Larry Holmes the fifth-best heavyweight of all time? What a joke! I realize it's not Holmes's fault that the heavyweight division hasn't been all that good for a few years, but in almost any other era there is no way he would have held the title.
San Rafael, Calif.
Thank you! Thank you! The article Is This a Holy Place? (May 30) by Bil Gilbert concerning Mono Lake was an eloquent example of how environmental issues should be addressed. As a student in the School of Natural Resources at Ohio State, I am continually enlightened by your thought-provoking pieces on environmental matters.
ELAINE E. STADLER
North Royalton, Ohio
I had the opportunity to work with Duane Georgeson and other Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials last year as a Coro Foundation Fellow. Although I do not entirely agree with DWP's positions on the Mono Lake issue, I am in full agreement with the department's stance that unless an equal amount of comparably priced water is made available to Los Angeles to replace the water from Mono, no satisfactory end to this controversy can be reached.
No political decision should be made in a vacuum; any actions regarding Mono Lake could seriously affect the entire water supply of Southern California. If DWP's supply is cut, the City of Los Angeles will need to obtain water from some other system to replace whatever is lost. A possible source would be the Southern California Metropolitan Water District, which supplies most of the rest of Southern California. Unfortunately, MWD does not have water to spare. As I understand the doctrine of public trust, under which this case will be decided, the effects on the rest of Southern California's population in the event that DWP's water supply is cut should be taken into consideration.