The greatest fights of Muhammad Ali’s career

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Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest boxers to ever set foot in the ring. He entertained the masses with the ability to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” He also stung like a bee outside of the ring with the verbal jabs he would give to his opponents.

Thanks to his incredible athletic gifts, Ali created some of the most magical moments in the history of boxing, so let’s take a trip down memory lane and remember some of the best fights of his legendary career.

Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman (Oct. 30, 1974 in Zaire, Africa)

The infamous “Rumble in the Jungle” fight took place in Zaire, Africa, where the ring temperatures hovered around 85 degrees for the entire fight. Ali became the second man to reclaim the heavyweight title by putting down Foreman in the eighth round.

Ali took a lot of punishment in this fight as he used his “rope-a-dope” strategy to ultimately end Foreman’s reign as champ.

Muhammad Ali vs. Leon Spinks (Feb. 15, 1978 in Las Vegas)

The 1978 Fight of the Year by The Ring featured a massive upset as Leon Spinks won the WBC and WBA heavyweight title after a split decision victory over Ali.

After the fight Ali said, “Next time, I’ll have to get on my toes to beat him. My rope-a-dope didn’t work. He was too strong. It was more a mistake in strategy.”

Which is exactly what Ali would do when the two faced off later that year in New Orleans.

Muhammad Ali vs. Leon Spinks II (Sept. 15, 1978 in New Orleans)

Spinks’ reign as the WBA heavyweight champion would be short lived as Ali dominated Spinks with an outburst of strikes and any time Spinks would try to mount any sort of defense, Ali would simply pull him in.

With the win, Ali became the first man to win the world heavyweight championship three times. This would also be the final win of Ali’s legendary career.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2i_J2eZ7axE

Muhammad Ali vs. Ken Norton (March 31, 1973 in San Diego, Calif.)

Ali lost his NABF Heavyweight title as he dropped just the second fight of his career.

Despite the lack of knockdowns in the fight, Ali suffered a broken jaw, he also suffered a partially broken ego.

He wore a white robe with rhinestones and jewels that read “People’s Choice” written on the back. It was a gift from Elvis Presley. Ali never wore the robe again.

Muhammad Ali vs. Ken Norton III (Sept. 28, 1976 in Bronx, N.Y.)

Ali regained his NABF Heavyweight title in his next fight with Norton, but their third meeting would be the creme dela crème of their trilogy, but it wasn’t without a bit of controversy.

Norton said after the fight that he “won at least nine or ten rounds.

Ali wasn’t quite as confident but still believed that he was the winner, “I had just enough to win,” he said. “I know I’m the winner.”

A month later, Ali had a very interesting quote in an interview with Mark Cronin, “Kenny’s style is too difficult for me. I can’t beat him, and I sure don’t want to fight him again. I honestly thought he beat me in Yankee Stadium, but the judges gave it to me, and I’m grateful to them.”

Cassius Clay vs. Zbigniew Pietrzykowski (1960 Summer Olympics in Rome)

Before he was known as “The Greatest”, Muhammad Ali was known as Cassius Clay and in 1960, Clay became a gold medalist at the age of 18. Clay won all four of his fights in the light heavyweight division that summer including a win over three-time European champion Zbigniew Pietrzykowski.

Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier (March 8, 1971 in New York City)

Ali stepped into the ring at Madison Square Garden on March 8th, 1971 with a 31-0 record that included 25 knockouts.

He would leave MSG with the first loss of his career at the hands of Smokin’ Joe Frazier, who also entered The Garden with an undefeated record.

Even though Ali was undefeated heading into the fight, he wasn’t the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world because he was stripped by boxing authorities, in 1967, for forgoing his mandatory military service. Ali based his decision on religious reasons.

This fight was the only time that one of the two fighters hit the canvas in their trilogy of fights as Frazier knocked Ali down in the opening seconds of round 11. Frazier would go on to win the fight by unanimous decision.

Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier II (Jan. 28, 1974 in New York City)

This is remembered as the least interesting fight of the Ali-Frazier trilogy, because the other two fights are two of the greatest fights in the history of boxing, but it was still a highly entertaining bout.

Ali clearly learned that he needed to fight Frazier differently, so that’s exactly what he did in this fight. Muhammad punched in bunches and would then clinch with Frazier, which didn’t go over well with Smokin’ Joe’s camp.

Ali was awarded an unanimous decision victory.

Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier III (Oct. 1, 1975 in Philippines)

All that needs to be said is “Thrilla in Manila.”

This was the third and final meeting between the two heavyweights. It was contested in the Philippines at 10am local time and under ridiculous ring temperatures (rumored to be around 120 degrees).

Ali attempted to use his “rope-a-dope” strategy on Frazier, but “Smokin’ Joe” pounded Ali while the champ leaned on the ropes.

During the fight, Frazier’s face became very swollen due to the amount of head strikes he had endured, which was very bad for Frazier because he was almost blind in his left eye.

After the 11th round, Frazier’s trainer, Eddie Futch, told him that he needed to stand more upright as opposed to bobbing and weaving, this ended up being very bad advice as Ali pounded Frazier in the final rounds. Futch decided to stop the fight after the 14th round.

After the fight, Ali said “Frazier quit just before I did. I didn’t think I could fight any more.”

‘Canelo’ Alvarez dominates Chavez Jr., Golovkin next up

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LAS VEGAS — Saul “Canelo” Alvarez dominated a grudge match against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on Saturday night, winning a unanimous decision in a fight that left no doubt who is the top active Mexican boxer.

Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) used a punishing jab to take control early in the 12-round matchup of former middleweight champions. The bigger Chavez (50-3-1, 32 KOs) started bleeding from the nose in the third round. His left eye swelled in the sixth and started to close a round later.

Alvarez, a 4-1 favorite, was much quicker against the largest fighter he’s faced and won every round on all three judges’ cards.

After the beating, Alvarez immediately announced he will next face middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin in September in a long-awaited bout. Golovkin then quickly joined Alvarez in the ring.

The 31-year-old Chavez, son of iconic Mexican boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., was trying to revitalize a career derailed by positive drug tests, weight issues and lax training. But he proved no match in the bout fought at a catchweight of 164 1/2 pounds.

Chavez avoided a $1 million-per-pound penalty when he weighed in at 164 pounds Friday, a half-pound below the catchweight and the lightest he’s been since losing his middleweight title to Sergio Martinez in 2012.

The 26-year-old Alvarez also weighed in at 164, nine pounds heavier than he’s ever fought. Alvarez, whose lone loss was to Floyd Mayweather Jr., got against the ropes several times and absorbed combinations from Chavez before quickly recovering with uppercuts.

Despite the 4-inch height advantage and an obvious weight edge after he rehydrated, Chavez was overmatched in his first fight under iconic trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain.

A confident Canelo didn’t bother to sit in his order after the seventh round, in a fight that wasn’t nearly as competitive as hoped.

A week after Anthony Joshua stopped Wladimir Klitschko in the 11th round of a thrilling heavyweight bout in front of 90,000 fans at London’s Wembley Stadium, the sport staged another big fight. Only this time there was a distinct Latino flavor.

Mexican bands played outside T-Mobile Arena more than three years before the main undercard began. A majority of the 20,510 fans inside the sold-out building wore either red (Canelo) or green (Chavez) headbands as they celebrated the Cinco de Mayo weekend by chanting “Mexico, Mexico.”

There was tension between the two fighters along with political overtones as a commercial for the fight depicted both boxers bursting through President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.

The red-bearded Alvarez is normally mild-mannered, but he had criticized Chavez for his work ethic. Chavez then needled him for refusing to fight the bigger Golovkin.

Alvarez was guaranteed $5 million and Chavez $3 million.

In the co-main event, former IBF middleweight champion David Lemieux of Montreal took a unanimous decision over stubborn Mexican Marco Reyes in a catchweight bout at 163 pounds.

A left by Lemieux (38-3) opened a large gash above Reyes’ right eye in the second round. Lemieux later twice knocked out Reyes’ mouthpiece with punches. But Reyes (35-5) stayed upright for 10 rounds as blood streamed down his face and onto his chest.

Lemieux hopes to get a shot at Alvarez.

“I could have done better but I hurt my hand after round two,” Lemieux said.

Other matches on the undercard included Lucas Matthysse, a former junior welterweight champ, ending a 20-month layoff by dropping Emmanuel Taylor (20-5) of Maryland twice before the referee stopped it in the fifth round. The Argentine (38-4) was making his welterweight debut.

Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. (24-0) out-pointed fellow Californian Manuel “Tino” Avila (22-1) in a one-sided 10-round featherweight bout.

For much of the undercard, fans traded “Canelo” and “Chavez” chants on a festive night that brought out several stars, including Evander Holyfield.

GGG outlasts Jacobs in close unanimous decision

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NEW YORK (AP) Gennady Golovkin outlasted Danny Jacobs in an exhausting 12-round defense of his middleweight titles Saturday night.

Both fighters are knockout artists, yet this one went the distance – the first time GGG has not had a KO in 24 fights, and his first time going 12 rounds. The Kazakh won 115-112 on two judges’ cards and 114-113 on the other.

The AP had it 114-113 for Golovkin.

In the toughest fight of his stellar career, Golovkin often was stymied by Jacobs changing to a left-handed style. But a series of hard rights throughout the bout were enough – barely – to bring his record to 37-0.

“Daniel did a very good job,” Golovkin said. “Daniel is my favorite fighter. I can’t destroy him.”

He didn’t, unlike so many other opponents who felt the fury or GGG.

“I thought I won it by at least two rounds minimum,” said Jacobs, nicknamed Miracle Man after he overcame bone cancer in 2011-12 to win 10 straight fights. “I did feel like I had to win the 12th round to make sure.”

He won it on two of the three cards, but it wasn’t enough, perhaps because he was knocked down in the fourth round, which went to Golovkin 10-8 on all three cards.

Still, with Madison Square Garden reverberating from chants of “Triple G” or “JACOBS,” no one could be sure of the outcome right until the final punch.

Jacobs is 32-2. Golovkin holds on to his belts and took Jacobs’ WBA middleweight title.

Golovkin, a world champion since 2010, is 5-0 at the Garden, which he calls a “second home.” But Jacobs, from Brooklyn and, oddly, a representative of the competing arena the Barclays Center, tested him more than anyone has.

Golovkin keeps his WBC and WBO crowns – the IBF belt was not at stake because Jacobs skipped that organization’s fight-day weigh-in. On the horizon for GGG could be that elusive meeting with Canelo Alvarez if the Mexican wins his fight in May against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

“Of course I am ready to fight Canelo, of course I want that fight,” Golovkin said. “I am like an animal for that fight.”

But there’s another option, GGG admitted.

“I will give Danny Jacobs a chance for a rematch.”

Earlier, Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai stunned previously unbeaten Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, knocking down the Nicaraguan in the first round, bloodying his face with an unintentional head-butt in the third, then winning a majority decision for the WBC super flyweight championship.

Even though Sor Rungvisai was docked a point in the sixth round for another head-butt – there were several in the brutal bout – he never backed off. He relentlessly attacked the cut over the right eye of Gonzalez, who clearly was hampered by the blood streaming down his face. The challenger carried the fight in the eyes’ of the judges through the latter rounds.

In only his second fight outside Asia, Sor Rungvisai improved to 42-4-1 with 38 knockouts. Gonzalez, considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, is 46-1.

One judge had the fight even at 113-113. The other two gave the Thai the nod 114-112 in the action-packed bout.

A sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden vigorously booed the decision.

The AP had it 115-113 for Gonzalez, who has held some sort of world title since 2008.

Gonzalez went down from a hard right to the body in the opening round, but he then took charge – even after his face turned to a bloody mask in the middle rounds. However, Sor Rungvisai landed enough punches and moved well enough to keep in it.

And then, despite being outpunched decisively, with Gonzalez landing 441 to 284, the Thai got the surprise decision.

Earlier, Carlos Cuadras outpointed fellow Mexican David Carmona in a super flyweight fight.

Both from Mexico City, Cuadras and Carmona were coming off defeats. Neither was particularly sharp Saturday night, and the decision drew a lusty round of boos from the crowd.

Perhaps the unorthodox manner in which Cuadras fought, at times looking off-balance and awkward, didn’t win over the fans. Or maybe it was the way Carmona came on late in the 10-rounder.

Regardless, the judges went for Cuadras 97-93, 97-93 and 96-94.

Cuadras (36-1-1 with 27 KOs) lost a close unanimous decision to Gonzalez in a sensational September matchup for the WBC belt he’d held since 2014. He wasn’t nearly as impressive in his win at the Garden.

Carmona (20-4-5) was also coming off a loss, to WBO world champion Naoya Inoue of Japan.

Cleveland’s Ryan Martin improved to 18-0 with 11 knockouts when he totally outmatched Bryant Cruz before stopping him in the seventh round of their lightweight bout.