Did we ever see Muhammad Ali in his prime?

Discussion in 'Boxing Discussion' started by MXZT, Apr 13, 2019 at 2:25 PM.

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Did we ever see Muhammad Ali in his prime?

  1. Yes

  2. No

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  1. MXZT

    MXZT Brown Belt Platinum Member

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    He lost about 4 years of his boxing life. I wonder if we could have seen a more prime Ali at the age of 26 to 29. Unfortunately I think we didn't get to see the best Ali in the ring.

    I know some people would say the Cleveland Williams fight Ali perfect prime performance. But who knows what he could he have done in those years he was off. He was never the same fighter after the exile, he changed his approach and style. Fought more with heart than with his natural physical skills.
     
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  2. mozfonky

    mozfonky We oughta be fightin' a bottle of Geritol.

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    His prime would have been during the exile, not only because that's when heavyweights usually mature but also because he was ultra hardworking in his first tenure as champion. In his comeback there may have been only a couple occasions where he was put in do or die positions where he trained properly. Even for the first frazier fight he showed up out of top condition and still made it a close fight. A prime Ali would have been able to pull out a decision and keep from getting knocked down. It would have been a competitive fight no matter what but he would have clearly won. Most of the post-exile fights were him skating by on talent/experience. That part of his career can actually be used to hurt his standing, a guy who lost to norton, spinks and frazier, well, could he have been the greatest heavyweight ever? A guy who got gift decisions against norton, young, shavers (all arguable of course) is he the "greatest"? I think the laziness and the fighting after he was really damaged and worn can be used to hurt his legacy, not that they should but no matter what people say about "we dismiss older fighters fights" it is there and detractors can use it and do. Jerry Izenberg, close ali friend has said he didn't think ali was "not a great man but a good man" and "not the greatest heavyweight". Joe Louis had 26 defenses and came prepared, it's too bad ali had all those distractions.
     
  3. Hanz_Blitz

    Hanz_Blitz BJJ all day

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    [​IMG]

    Closest we ever came
     
  4. KAZSoliloquy

    KAZSoliloquy 10/10 on Pitchfork

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    heard cleveland got his weave ripped out before the fight
     
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  5. KAZSoliloquy

    KAZSoliloquy 10/10 on Pitchfork

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    i think beating a prime liston, prime foreman and prime frazier make him the greatest. there’s no one with a resumé like that. before i knew anything about boxing i thought lennox was the best because he’s my favorite HW and the name value of his opponents is crazy but the best names on his resumé were not in their primes.
     
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  6. mozfonky

    mozfonky We oughta be fightin' a bottle of Geritol.

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    that's the best arguments, his best wins which were absolute killers who all may have been able to rule other eras. There will always be arguments on any fighter, no matter who that they are under-over/rated for my money ali at his best would beat all of the rest on his best night.
     
  7. loyalyolayal

    loyalyolayal Steel Belt

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    He just beat Millender. No way I'd forget his name.
     
  8. KAZSoliloquy

    KAZSoliloquy 10/10 on Pitchfork

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    <[analyzed}>
     
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  9. mozfonky

    mozfonky We oughta be fightin' a bottle of Geritol.

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    One quality in my mind would put him above the rest and it's not something that's ever mentioned, I only ever saw emmanuel Steward mention it. It was the pace he could fight at and his incredible stamina, He could throw punches like a lightweight in number and that was just too much for chuvalo and mildenberger, his toughest defenses in the sixties. You add in all the rest of his attributes, physical and mental, he was just too much.
     
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  10. defjaam

    defjaam Black belt

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    It can also be used for his standing. Got banned for three years, lost his movement / stamina, and still came back and beat everybody.

    I wouldn't use the Spinks fight against him anyway, because from that time you can already notice early signs of Parkinsons in Interviews. Even in 1976 his speech wasn't the same.

    On the flipside of the coin he had fights in his prime to only make him look good... Like against Folley or Williams, a fight that is often used to show his greatness. When peoples discuss fantasy matches, they translate Ali doing the same to Tyson, Holyfield, Klitschko etc... But do you really think that they would look THAT overmatched against him? Because people seem to imagine that they would. I think stylewise Chris Byrd gives Ali a tough fight by making him lead.

    Generally his fights from the 1960s were mismatches, because Ali was ahead of his time from an athletic standpoint. But also the size of heavyweights back then. Ali towered most of them, and over 50% were really cruiserweights or even light-heavyweights by modern standards.

    Here's a quote from an old man who has seen it back then:

    Funny enough this is the fight where people say "Wow look how great Ali was, they couldn't even touch him."
     
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  11. mozfonky

    mozfonky We oughta be fightin' a bottle of Geritol.

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    everybody knows cleveland was shot, what was different about ali in that fight was that he went for the kill right away, and he was maturing to be bigger and stronger than his opposition as well as faster, it was a rare instance of him trying to get a guy out of there asap because he didn't want to beat on cleve. His other sixties championship fights are all on a consistent level of greatness. He looked a little flat in the folley fight for whatever reason but he dominated some very good fighters, not quite on the level of who he beat later, but good fighters. My favorite will always be the first liston fight, he was in the zone that night.
     
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  12. Absolut

    Absolut Black Belt

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    New Ali two part documentary coming to HBO in May.

    Can’t imagine there is anything new to say...
     
  13. mozfonky

    mozfonky We oughta be fightin' a bottle of Geritol.

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    you'd be surprised, i've studied many famous men and there are always interesting things coming up many years after their deaths. In the recent eig bio of ali there are many interesting new stories but eig seems to lack some integrity. But some of the stories are new and unheard of. Nothing major but when you've read as much as I have, it does strike one when you hear stories you haven't heard before. Just the other day I saw a vid on ali that I'd never seen, so there are always things out there that haven't seen the light of day. I think that his final years, what shape he was in, not good we know will be revelatory. Also, not just with ali but with most of the men I read about, i wish there was a way to dispel myths and lies, hard to do because people lie so much. Ali was a hero for not joining the military to some and he was a coward more worried about the NOI killing him. That's not a settled question in my mind.
     
  14. defjaam

    defjaam Black belt

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    You know Cleveland was shot. I highly doubt that everyone knows. It's laughable to use this fight as an example of Ali's greatness, and imagine that this is how Ali vs Tyson or Lennox Lewis would look like. He tried it against Foreman, but Foreman was big, strong, athletic, skilled (= knew how to cut off the ring)... Sure you can argue that it wasn't Prime Ali, but bizarrely people always argue in Ali's favor. It's hero worship.

    As far as looking more flat footed against Folley. I look at it as Ali starting to sit on his punches more and press his opponent more. In certain fights, like a against Floyd Patterson, he was dancing around too much with barely any action happening during the rounds. But on the other side: Patterson was stronger, more athletic and more skilled than Folley, hence he posed a bigger threat.

    That's why I don't buy this nonsense that Ali walks through Klitschko, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, just because he's from an older era.
     
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  15. Blazeblack

    Blazeblack Green Belt

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    I think his physical prime would have been around 28-29, but I don’t think he just fell off the cliff at 30 either. The Ali we saw in his early 30’s is probably about as good we would have seen him in his mythical prime.
     
  16. mozfonky

    mozfonky We oughta be fightin' a bottle of Geritol.

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    he was still good enough to beat the best. Ali did say himself that the reason he fought flatfooted against frazier was because he didn't think he could move for 15 rounds because he hadn't really trained. The first frazier fight took alot out of both men, meaning, neither was ever quite the same. So, age, laziness, physical attrition and he still managed to dominate the scene for the next decade. Up to the third frazier fight he was still a top fighter.
     
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  17. mozfonky

    mozfonky We oughta be fightin' a bottle of Geritol.

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    people know about williams, no one pretends he was sonny liston or joe frazier on that night. Joe Louis would probably be his closest rival in an all time series but i don't see how he would do well, Larry Holmes would also be a tough fight. Many tough fights but what gave Ali trouble, said it a million times, was smaller, quicker guys who were volume punchers, the big guys never caused him issues.
     
  18. defjaam

    defjaam Black belt

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    Who are "people"? Boxing fans? Yes, but most people absolutely do not know.

    Ken Norton wasnt a small guy. I see nobody comparble to Lewis, Klitschko, Fury or Joshua during that era though. So I don't see how you can make that statement.
     
  19. Absolut

    Absolut Black Belt

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    No, but think of the ring rust he gathered and the extra training, more skills, etc that he would have accumulated from basically 25 years to almost 29.

    There is a chance, of course he gets starched if he kept fighting during that window, but I doubt it. Nobody hypothesizes Ted Williams would have blown out his knee had he not gone to fight in the war.

    I believe Ali would have been greater at 28 without the layoff.
     
  20. Someone88

    Someone88 Silver Belt

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    Some great points made in this thread. I will say that we saw Ali in his prime but maybe not at his absolute peak. I answered no because I assumed that's what was meant in the question.

    You guys know more than me, but I think Frazier would have always been a very difficult opponent for Ali regardless. Frazier had some health issues so if we want to make excuses we should be fair.
     

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