Larry Holmes returns to the ring - sort of

At the close of his 20-minute one-man show, former heavyweight champion of the world Larry Holmes had a message.

"People say Muhammad Ali was the greatest," Holmes said. "They said that Rocky Marciano was the greatest, and they said that Joe Louis was the greatest. I'm here to tell you that I'm the greatest."

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Larry Holmes claims that he is "the greatest" boxer.

Widely recognized as one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, Holmes, 65, delivered that statement from a ring inside Harrah's Philadelphia Casino, where he was debuting his one-man show in front of about 200 spectators.

Holmes, who stopped Ali after 10 rounds in 1980, was the feature attraction at the casino on an eight-bout, "celebrity boxing" card promoted by World Xtreme Entertainment and Philadelphia native Damon Feldman.

"Damon is a guy who is coming on," Holmes said. "He's going to do big things in the business because he works hard."

Holmes, who retired with a record of 69-6, held the title for more than seven years and defended it 20 times, entered the ring in a pair of dark slacks and a brown short-sleeve shirt. As he paced the ring, his actions were filmed by a pair of videographers, one inside the ring and one on the outside. About 30 feet off the ring, a big screen looped footage of some of his many famous fights.

Holmes cracked some moderately funny jokes and poked fun at himself. Later, Holmes said he would continue to work with WXE. He added that in the future he may sing, which he has previously done since he retired. In the past, Holmes said he has opened shows for soul acts Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes and the Temptations.

Holmes, who made millions of dollars inside the ring, has not squandered his earnings. While he was boxing, Holmes invested heavily in real estate and owned a few restaurants and even a hotel in his Easton, Pa., hometown.

"I'm just having fun out here and having a good time," said Holmes, who added that he does "meet-and-greets" all across the country. "I made plenty of money in my career. This is a way to make some more money and have a good time with people."


jmitchell@philly.com

@JmitchInquirer