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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

Boxer LaMotta, immortalized in ‘Raging Bull,’ dies at 95

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MIAMI (AP) Jake LaMotta, the former middleweight champion whose life was depicted in the film “Raging Bull,” has died at the age of 95.

His fiancee, Denise Baker, says LaMotta died Tuesday at a Miami-area hospital from complications of pneumonia.

The Bronx Bull, as he was known in his fighting days, compiled an 83-19-4 record with 30 knockouts.

LaMotta fought Sugar Ray Robinson six times, handing Robinson his first defeat. He lost the middleweight title to him in what became known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

In his previous fight, LaMotta saved the championship in movie-script fashion against Laurent Dauthuille. Trailing badly, LaMotta knocked out the challenger with 13 seconds left.

LaMotta threw a fight against Billy Fox, which he admitted in testimony before a U.S. Senate committee. He said he was promised a shot at a title.

On June 16, 1949, he became middleweight champion when Marcel Cerdan couldn’t continue after the 10th round.

The 1980 film “Raging Bull” was based on LaMotta’s memoir. Actor Robert DeNiro won an Academy Award for it.

Canelo and Golovkin fight to controversial draw

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Gennady Golovkin retained his middleweight titles Saturday night, fighting to a draw with Canelo Alvarez in a brutal battle that ended with both fighters with their hands aloft in victory.

The middleweight showdown lived up to its hype as the two fighters traded huge punches and went after each other for 12 rounds. Neither fighter was down and neither appeared seriously hurt but both landed some huge punches to the head that had the crowd screaming in excitement.

Golovkin was the aggressor throughout and landed punches that had put other fighters to the canvas. But he couldn’t put Alvarez down, and the Mexican star more than stood his own in exchanges with Triple G, from Kazakhstan. The two were still brawling as the final seconds ticked down and the fight went to the scorecards.

One judge had Alvarez winning 118-110, a second had it 115-113 in Golovkin’s favor while the third had it 114-114. The Associated Press scored it 114-114.

Golovkin, who has never lost in 38 fights, retained his middleweight titles with the draw. But Alvarez showed that he could not only take Golovkin’s punches but land telling punches of his own.

A frenzied crowd of 22,358 at the T-Mobile Arena roared throughout the fight as the two middleweights put on the kind of show that boxing purists had anticipated. They brawled, used sharp jabs and counter-punched at times, with neither one willing to give the other much ground.

“Congratulations all my friends from Mexico,” Golovkin said. “I want a true fight. I want a big drama show.”

There was plenty of drama late in the fight as Alvarez seemed to rally and rocked Golovkin with uppercuts and big right hands. But just as soon as he landed he often took one back from the slugger so feared that most other fighter avoided him.

“I won seven-eight rounds easily,” Alvarez said.

It was a battle from the opening bell as Golovkin tried to walk Alvarez down but often found himself getting hit from sharp counter punches.

“Today, people give me draw. I focus on boxing,” Golovkin said. “Look my belts, I’m still champion. I’ve not lost.”

Golovkin predicted before the fight that the late rounds would resemble a street fight, and in a way they did. Both fighters were willing to trade, and both had no problems landing hard shots to the head.

Golovkin had chased Alvarez for nearly two years, trying to get the signature fight that would pay him millions and make him a pay-per-view draw on his own. Alvarez finally agreed after Golovkin looked vulnerable earlier this year against Daniel Jacobs in a decision win that stopped his knockout streak at 23 fights.