Earnie Shavers, who was considered one of the hardest punchers in heavyweight boxing history, has passed away, Yahoo Sports reported. He was 78.

His cause of death is unknown.

Emerging during the golden age of heavyweight boxing during the 1970s, Shavers was one of the most feared fighters of the era.

Known as the "Black Destroyer," Shavers won 44 of his first 47 fights by knockout, including 27 consecutive knockouts, of which 20 were in the first round. 

His profile rose when he began being managed by a then-unknown Don King and he started facing the top contenders in the heavyweight condition.

Shavers fought twice for the heavyweight championship, losing to Muhammad Ali in 1977 at Madison Square Garden and to Larry Holmes in 1979 at Caesars Palace.

Ali nicknamed Shavers “The Acorn” before the fight because of his shaved bald head. After the fight, Ali praised Shavers' punching power. 

“Earnie hit me so hard, it shook my kinfolk in Africa,” Ali said.

Former heavyweight champion George Foreman said in an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman that the hardest punchers he fought were Gerry Cooney, Ron Lyle and Cleveland Williams. When Letterman brought up Shavers, Foreman had a hilarious response.

“I never fought Earnie Shavers, thank goodness,” Foreman said.

In a career that spanned from 1969 to 1995, Shavers posted a record of 74-14-1, with 68 knockouts.

He went on to become an ordained Christian minister after retiring and moved to Phoenix where he pastored for many years. In the early 2000s, he relocated to England to pastor a church there. 

In 2002, Shavers released his autobiography Welcome to the Big Time

After retiring from boxing. he continued to attend boxing events as a special guest, autograph signer, and motivational speaker.

We at Ebony extend our prayers and deepest condolences to the family and friends of Earnie Shavers.