Following the death of Muhammad Ali, here we take a look back at some of the most memorable moments of the boxing legend’s career.
Ali – then known as Cassius Clay – went into his first clash with Sonny Liston as the huge underdog, with the defending WBA and WBC heavyweight champion having picked up two emphatic first-round victories over Floyd Patterson. However, Liston failed to emerge from his corner at the beginning of the seventh round, handing Ali victory. The bout, as well as the re-match won by Ali, was dogged by allegations of fixing, although the claims were never substantiated.
THE FIGHT OF THE CENTURY
Ali had won 31 fights on the bounce by the time he came to face Joe Frazier for the first time in 1971. Ali, having been stripped of his titles and served a three-and-a-half-year ban for rejecting military service, was looking to win back the titles he had been forced to vacate prior to his suspension. However, it was Frazier who eventually emerged as victor by unanimous decision at the end of a brutal 15 rounds.
Ali and Frazier met for the second of their three bouts at Madison Square Garden in 1974. While considered by most the least important of their rivalry, the fight did allow Ali a chance to gain a measure of revenge over Frazier – winning by unanimous decision after going 12 rounds.
RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE
That win over Frazier was the ideal morale-booster for Ali ahead of a title bout against George Foreman in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo). Foreman had beaten Frazier in 1973 and successfully defended his titles in subsequent fights against Jose Roman and Ken Norton, heading to Africa as favourite. However, Ali employed what became known as his rope-a-dope tactic of leaning on the ropes, allowing Foreman to punch him on the arms and body, and directing straight punches at his opponent’s face. The approach worked, as Ali stopped a tiring Foreman in the ninth.
THRILLER IN MANILA
The third and final bout between Ali and Frazier lived up to the promise of the earlier two, with Ali entering as defending champion for the first time. Frazier’s corner spent the build-up warning Ali against using the underhand tactics they felt he had used to emerge victorious in their second meeting. However, it was Ali who eventually came out on top after another bruising clash, winning by technical knockout in the 14th round of 15.