Boxing is a sport which has provided us with many great names over the years, if you were Heavyweight Champion of the World you could be assured that your name would be known across the world, and of all the Heavyweight champions Boxing has provided to us, none have received as much fame and recognition as the man they call ‘The Greatest’. As Muhammed Ali turned 70 this month, we look back at three of his greatest battles which helped make this heavyweight champion of the world ‘The greatest of all times’.
Cassius Clay v Sonny Liston February 25 1964. Clay came into this bout as the underdog, very few gave the brash fast talking young man a chance against the man whom Clay labeled ‘The big ugly bear’. Liston was Heavyweight Champion of the world and possessed a vicious punch and very often intimidated his opponent before the fight due to his sheer brute force and punching power. But Clay was having none of it, Clay convinced himself that he would be Champion and let anyone who would listen know too. Even Sonny Liston seemed to be getting annoyed at Clay, not knowing if Clay really did believe in himself or whether Clay was genuinely mental! The fight came and Clay dominated, his ability to slip punches and his superior speed left Liston in a spin. There was only one round in which Clay looked in trouble, when he later mentioned he believed that Liston’s trainers had smeared vaseline over his Boxing Gloves in an effort to get it into Clay’s eyes. Clay stunned the Boxing world at 22 when Liston did not come out of his corner for the 7th round.
Muhammed Ali v Cleveland Williams November 14 1966. If ever there was a perfect Boxer, with size, strength and speed, then Muhammed Ali especially when he fought Cleveland Williams. Ali was worried that since an injury Williams had sustained, he was not the same fighter, and he was advised to finish the job quickly. What we witnessed was Muhammed Ali at his absolute peak, a Boxing master class, devastating speed both hand and foot and knockout power left Williams battered in round three. Along with his fights against Ernie Terrell and Zora Foley, this really was Muhammed Ali at his best. Arguably no heavyweight fighter has looked as good as Ali in that 3 fight span before his ban from Boxing.
Muhammed Ali v George Foreman October 30 1974. This was almost like another Cassius Clay against Sonny Liston. Ali again was the challenger and Foreman was now the Heavyweight champion of the world, and like Liston, Foreman possessed arguably the most powerful punch in Boxing history. Yet again very few gave Ali a chance of regaining the Heavyweight title against a man that had destroyed Ali’s nemesis Joe Frazier. But Ali would make history in more ways than one, regaining the Heavyweight title with an 8th round KO using a strategy made legendary, the rope a dope in which Ali took Foreman’s best shots, tiring Foreman out and then pouncing on Foreman. This fight demonstrated that the new Ali in his early 30’s could adapt, no longer possessing lightning hand speed as he did in his youth, this Ali displayed he could take a punch and had Boxing acumen, able to fight to a game plan. The Rumble in the Jungle has gone down as one of Boxing’s greatest nights.
So there’s my picks of three of Muhammed Ali’s best bouts which went a long way to establishing Ali as one of history’s greatest ever Boxers. So now its time for you to grab those 16oz Boxing Gloves and head down to the gym, just remember, Ali was his own biggest believer, and that confidence helped him achieve everything he set out to do! Whatever your level from Boxing for fun to amateur to professional, you can find the perfect glove for you at