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Old 04-25-2020, 09:05 PM #1
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Default Was Ali that great?

Iím watching some classic boxing during this extended stay-at-home due to the coronavirus pandemic. Iíve been watching a bunch of Ali and Foreman fights (btw Foreman-Young fight was pretty entertaining) and Iím kinda underwhelmed by some of Aliís performances.

Iíve watched the Foreman, Frasier III, Chuvalo, Bonavena and Mac Foster fights. He let Bonavena work his way inside Of him and land a lot of clean solid shots. Up until the KO in the 15th round the fight was almost dead even.


From watching this fight (and others) its evident to me that Ali never really had an inside fight game except trying up and rope-a-doping his opponents.

Granted, these fights were after Aliís 3 plus year hiatus and he wasnít the same fights he was once but still he wasnít old and too shop worn.

As I watch these fights his performances were not as great as his mythical status would indicate.

What am I missing?
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Old 04-25-2020, 09:22 PM #2
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Originally Posted by BostonGuy View Post
Iím watching some classic boxing during this extended stay-at-home due to the coronavirus pandemic. Iíve been watching a bunch of Ali and Foreman fights (btw Foreman-Young fight was pretty entertaining) and Iím kinda underwhelmed by some of Aliís performances.

Iíve watched the Foreman, Frasier III, Chuvalo, Bonavena and Mac Foster fights. He let Bonavena work his way inside Of him and land a lot of clean solid shots. Up until the KO in the 15th round the fight was almost dead even.


From watching this fight (and others) its evident to me that Ali never really had an inside fight game except trying up and rope-a-doping his opponents.

Granted, these fights were after Aliís 3 plus year hiatus and he wasnít the same fights he was once but still he wasnít old and too shop worn.

As I watch these fights his performances were not as great as his mythical status would indicate.

What am I missing?
I would say Ali's status as the greatest heavyweight (Joe Louis for me) is based on his sheer speed and athleticism during his first incarnation. During his second go round I think it's based on his ability to rise to the occasion and win his biggest fights. Like all boxers though, yes he was in some stinkers. No one can argue his resume though.
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Old 04-25-2020, 10:07 PM #3
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I always felt he was overrated. Not that he wasn’t a good fighter or important to the sport, but he did a lot of things wrong from a technical aspect. He got away with it because he had superior speed and reflexes over the big lumbering heavyweights or he had substantial size advantages over many of the others. He fought with his hands at his side, leaned back from punches, moved back in a straight line, dropped his hands too low throwing uppercuts, and rarely went to the body. Took way too many punches on his granite chin. Got several gifts too.

Last edited by GhostofDempsey; 04-25-2020 at 10:11 PM.
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Old 04-26-2020, 10:58 AM #4
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Ali was a great fighter and one of the best. But their is know doubt his outside the ring persona, along with social impact has made his boxing career inside the ring put on a loftier pedestal.
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Old 04-26-2020, 11:12 AM #5
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- -Nobody but Ali and his man Friday, aka Budini Brown called him the greatest in his prime.

What happened was his Vietnam stance that landed him in the middle of that hot mess in the day where he was stripped and charged with draft dodging.

To pay the bills he went on speaking tours to colleges, eventually into highest white academia. Most students and profs vehemently against the war , so when the Supremes exonerated him, he entered into folk hero status, and then getting beat up by FOY Frazier showed he could "take it" for the old salts soon followed by his sainthood coronation in Zaire, so there it is.

Sadly it was those adoring fans and media that kept him propped up for debilitating beatings post Foreman where a physiologist familiar with boxing would have to diagnose increasing %levels of disability as the beatings continued.

A great story inadequately told in film and literature thus far though perhaps Thomas Hauser comes closest.
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Old 04-26-2020, 05:17 PM #6
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Originally Posted by BostonGuy View Post
I’m watching some classic boxing during this extended stay-at-home due to the coronavirus pandemic. I’ve been watching a bunch of Ali and Foreman fights (btw Foreman-Young fight was pretty entertaining) and I’m kinda underwhelmed by some of Ali’s performances.

I’ve watched the Foreman, Frasier III, Chuvalo, Bonavena and Mac Foster fights. He let Bonavena work his way inside Of him and land a lot of clean solid shots. Up until the KO in the 15th round the fight was almost dead even.


From watching this fight (and others) its evident to me that Ali never really had an inside fight game except trying up and rope-a-doping his opponents.

Granted, these fights were after Ali’s 3 plus year hiatus and he wasn’t the same fights he was once but still he wasn’t old and too shop worn.

As I watch these fights his performances were not as great as his mythical status would indicate.

What am I missing?
Well to start off on the right foot, so to speak, we need to understand some important things about Ali: Ali never had an inside game. Ali did not really have a commanding power punch, was not a puncher at all... and Ali did everything wrong technically... He moved straight back, he seldom used angles... cut the ring off? NEVER!!

Ali had incredible speed, he had one of the best chins. Ali also studied martial arts and used segmented body movement. In other words instead of footwork Ali would use shoulder and head movements. Ali had a jab second to none. because he could move off the line so quick (moving straight back and fourth) he could catch you in a half breath with that jab.

When Ali got in trouble he would use his hand speed and shoulder movements to counter a guy... and with Ali's speed? unlike most technically great counter punchers, Ali didn't have to time it so he caught you fully extended. He could flick that jab, or turn it into a lead, and catch you anytime as your punch came and you would never see it...This is actually documented and something guys who sparred with him talk about.

Ali's methods were really about fighting to the level of his opposition. If you look at his fights, unless he was angry, like he was against Patterson, he would not try to dominate his opponent. He rose to the occasion.

With these insights it becomes a bit less quizzotical to look at Ali fighting someone like Wepner and wondering why he didn't dominate.

As far as his greatness purely for its own sake? Its similar to how Roy Jones was great. Ali used his own methods. And here is how I look at these methods:
1) Ali the Psychologist. Could read his opponents like a book and cause them to show their cards. Could use and seize momentum.
2) Ali the martial artist. Read about his time spent with George Dillman and Richard Chuns school in New york City... Ali used segmented body movements characteristic of guys in the martial arts.
3) Ali the athlete. Had blinding speed and reflexes, and had a chin of iron.

Last edited by billeau2; 04-26-2020 at 05:25 PM.
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Old 04-26-2020, 08:31 PM #7
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What annoys me about Ali is that had he thrown and landed more body punches he would had an easier time breaking down and stopping his opponents. Instead he relied almost solely on head punches for his offense.
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Old 04-26-2020, 11:17 PM #8
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Originally Posted by BostonGuy View Post
What annoys me about Ali is that had he thrown and landed more body punches he would had an easier time breaking down and stopping his opponents. Instead he relied almost solely on head punches for his offense.
- -U describing the two of the three common features he shared with the K bros.
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Old 04-27-2020, 08:47 AM #9
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You need to know the context. His greatness was more equated into his ability to rise into the occasion, walk the talk, and prove the doubters wrong.

I'll try to summarize how great Ali was during his time. Sonny Liston was the most feared man in the late 50s-early 60s.
A young Ali who was the 7–1 underdog that time, won in a major upset when Liston gave up in the 7th round, winning the heavyweight title for the first time.

Ali split fights with Frazier 1-1, and Norton 1-1, which meant those 2 guys were in the same league with Ali. He always had trouble with these 2 all-time greats. And then here comes George Foreman who beat Frazier and Norton in just 2 rounds, both knocking them out. Foreman became the scariest man of the 70s. No one gave Ali a chance to beat Foreman, to the point were people were so afraid that Ali could die. It was a major upset victory with Ali coming in as a 4–1 underdog against the unbeaten, heavy-hitting Foreman, introducing the rope-a-dope tactic at that time.

And then the Thrilla in Manila, where the only fight in the Ali-Frazier trilogy that didn't go the distance as Ali won via TKO.

I could have missed some notable legendary fights. Ali may not have been as technically sound as Mayweather, but Ali had it all, speed, agility, power, chin, heart, charisma, ring IQ, name it. Let alone the fact that he transcended the sport. What I liked the most is he never backed down from anyone.
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Old 04-27-2020, 09:44 AM #10
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Ali always rose to the occasion. It's basically what Tyson Fury does nowadays.
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