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IN THEIR WORDS: Reflections as Muhammad Ali laid to rest

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As Muhammad Ali is laid to rest with a public funeral and private burial, some of the world’s most famous faces reflect on a man known simply as “The Greatest.”

Ali is to be buried Friday after a procession in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

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“I feel like Louisville KY is now my home, as I’ll make many visits to Ali beloved resting place in the future.” — heavyweight boxer George Foreman.

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“We saw an expression of the extraordinary strength of his human spirit during the Olympic Games Atlanta 1996, when The Greatest Of All Time did not hesitate to expose his affliction when lighting the Olympic cauldron. One can only imagine what it meant to this champion, who was so proud of his physique and good looks, to expose his own frailty with the eyes of world on him. This inspirational act gave hope and strength to the billions of spectators around the globe. It was his greatest Olympic moment and I was not alone to wipe the tears from my eyes.” — International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach

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“He was my idol, my friend, my mentor. He was someone that I looked up to and someone who I tried to emulate during my boxing career.” — boxer Sugar Ray Leonard

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“His dignity in the ring and his sense of heroism beyond the ring made him a living legend. … He never stopped winning battles whether it was in the ring or outside the ring.” — Rev. Jesse Jackson

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“It’s the end of an era and a sad day for the world. Muhammad Ali once asked me to sing ‘I am, I said’ for him at my office. Of course, I did.” — singer Neil Diamond

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“There were a lot of guys back then that you looked up to as men, as opposed to sports figures, because of what they did walking away from the game, as opposed to what they did in the ring. So, as a young man growing up, that taught me a lot as far as respecting myself and understanding what I need to do growing up as a man.” — New York Jets coach Todd Bowles

Pacquiao plans to return to the ring Nov. 5

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LAS VEGAS (AP) Manny Pacquiao isn’t ready to give up his night job just yet.

Pacquiao, who said before his last fight in April that he would retire, now plans to return to the ring in November against an opponent who has yet to be selected.

Promoter Bob Arum said Tuesday that Pacquiao got permission to take a break from his new duties as a senator in the Philippines to take another fight. It will be held Nov. 5, likely in Las Vegas.

“He likes to fight and he likes the attention,” Arum said of Pacquiao’s return.

Pacquiao looked impressive in his last fight in April, returning from a layoff to knock down Timothy Bradley on his way to a unanimous decision. After the fight he wavered on his previous plans to retire.

“If you ask me to come back I don’t know,” Pacquiao said. “I may be enjoying retired life. I’m not there yet so I just don’t know.”

Pacquiao, who was formerly a congressman in his native country, was elected to the Senate in May and there were fears that increased duties would prevent him from fighting again.

But Arum said the head of the Senate told Pacquiao he was free to fight after the country’s budget is settled on Oct. 15.

“He would train in the Philippines and leave on the 16th to come to the U.S., train for two weeks and then come to Vegas,” Arum said. “The only issue is getting an arena for the fight.”

Arum said he is talking with MGM Resorts about an arena to host the fight. He had reserved the Mandalay Bay arena for Oct. 15, but Pacquaio can’t leave his Senate duties that early.

The fight also could be at the UNLV campus arena, he said, though UNLV would have to move a scheduled basketball exhibition from the date.

There were reports that Pacquiao might fight Adrien Broner, but Arum said he wanted the same money as Pacquiao, which was a non-starter. Another possible opponent would be Jesse Vargas, who fights for Top Rank, and holds a piece of the welterweight title.

Pacquiao was off for nearly a year after losing in May 2015 to Floyd Mayweather Jr., healing from a shoulder injury. But he seemed reinvigorated after beating Bradley in April in a performance that got good reviews from most, including trainer Freddie Roach.

“When I see Manny Pacquiao like that, this is the best Manny Pacquiao,” Roach said after the fight. “He hasn’t missed a beat. I would like to see him fight again.”

Laila Ali, Jaime Foxx pay tribute to Muhammad Ali

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Laila Ali paid tribute to her late father, sports icon Muhammad Ali, during the BET Awards on Sunday at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

Ali, a retired boxer herself, started to choke up as she spoke about her father’s legacy and the outpouring of support since his death at the age of 74 on June 3 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

“My father, Muhammad Ali, lived his life with conviction and purpose,” Ali said. “He is known as the greatest athlete of all time, a man who fearlessly faced opposition both in and outside the ring.”

Actor Jamie Foxx, who starred in the 2001 biopic about the icon’s life, “Ali,” as Ali’s cornerman Drew Bundini Brown, also spoke about the legend, noting that he stood up when no one else was doing so.

After getting a standing ovation, Ali stood in front of a photo of her father holding her as an infant and talked about her father’s evolution in his heart, mind and spirit over the course of his lifetime.

“These past few weeks my father’s generosity and love has been matched by a worldwide outpouring of love and reverence for him and our entire family,” Ali said.

“If he was here today, he would humbly ask you to pray not just for our family, but for all of mankind.”