The Fight To Remember Or Perhaps Not …………….

One of the great tragedies of the modern sporting arena, was to witness the downward spiral of the boxing career of Muhammad Ali . We all knew that he fought way past his prime and if anything had four or five fights too many. Call it the ‘Pride And The Passion ,The Agony Of Shame And Defeat’ . But nothing to my mind epitomized that more than when Ali fought Larry Holmes (69-6-1, 44KO’s) for the WBC heavyweight title in October of 1980 .

Here, Ali (56-5, 37 KO’s) is seen challenging Holmes for the heavyweight title in a bout that took place at Caesars Palace , in Las Vegas, Nevada , on the 2nd October , 1980 .

What cannot be disputed is that, whilst being courageous , Ali was also being foolhardy in thinking that he would be able to defeat at Holmes at this stage of his career. Larry Holmes at the time, was the pre-eminent heavyweight boxer in the world and his record suggested as much. And though the relationship between the two wasn’t all strained. Holmes as a former sparring partner of Ali, was at first reluctant to accept his challenge. With that in mind , the fight still went ahead with the usual ballyhoo accorded with such a spectacle. We had a former champion looking to regain the title for an unprecedented fourth time. Holmes if anything , wanted to keep some semblance of respect that he had for his former mentor. But it was hard to do so when Ali , himself, wanted to sell the fight with his usual aplomb. A task made certainly all the much easier as it was being promoted by none other than Don King. Perhaps no else within the sport of boxing as a promoter, would be able to put on such a spectacle and at the same time have the public lapping it all up like voracious beasts ?

Ali (left)  seen  here  in the  ring  with   Holmes (right)   in their   match up  for  the  WBC  heavyweight title  bout held  at  Caesar's  Palace  in  Las Vegas , Nevada  .  The   fight  took   place    2nd  October   1980   .  It  was  Ali's  penultimate   fight   , which  he  lost  in  an  11th  round  TKO  decision to the  champion ,  Larry  Holmes.  In  his  last fight   Ali   would   also   lose  a  unanimous   verdict  to   Trevor  Berbick  of Canada.    picture  appears  courtesy of   John  Iacona  ..........   copyrighted  material      @  All  rights  reserved ...........

Ali (left), seen here with Holmes (right), in their WBC heavyweight title clash . Ali would lose the bout to Holmes in an 11th round TKO. The fight would be Ali’s penultimate fight but he would go on to have one last fight against , Canadian , Trevor Berbick . A fight which he also lost in a unanimous decision. picture appears courtesy of John Iacona – copyrighted material . @ All rights reserved …………..

Now, not wanting to sound outlandish or come off as being trite. I do believe that those within the sport and many who governed the sport of boxing at the time. I feel , full well that they were quite aware as to the acute problems that Ali was facing at the time. Primarily , with his health and the fact that he was lured into taking on fights that in no way shape or form , should be have done so, to begin with. And even prior to the Holmes’ bout , it was quite evident that his skills had already began to erode as a boxer and were in fact on the decline. Unfortunately however, he was being enabled by his handlers and many in and outside of his entourage. They impressed upon that he was still ‘The Champ’ , even if it was in name only. And by all accounts , that was how Ali still wanted to be referred to -as ” The Champ” . Sadly, but surely this was one of those episodes where valor may well have not counted for a great deal on Muhammad Ali’s part.

Holmes   the   aggressor  takes  the   fight  to  Ali   and  backs  him   up  into  a  corner   for  a  vicious  onslaught  in the  sixth   round.   picture  appears  courtesy of   sweetfights.com/ boxing/archives    ......................

Holmes the aggressor takes the fight to Ali and backs him up into a corner where unleashes a vicious onslaught with a barrage of punches in the sixth round. picture appears courtesy of sweetfights.com/archives/boxing/Ali-Holmes …….

From the moment that the bell first rang and until the referee stopped the fight in the eleventh round. One knew that this was going to be a night when we all saw a once great champion be brought humbly to his knees . Ali had his moments in the fight, where he brought back memories past , with moments of impish speed and flashes of brilliance. But on the side of the equation, there stood Holmes , a masterful technician, with an all too wicked right jab , powerful upper cuts and tremendous body punching. Who completely at will , literally went about destroying the legacy and myth that was once Muhammad Ali. He was brutally efficient in exposing Ali to his barrage of attacks and more than once he called on the referee to stop the fight , in order to save Ali from further punishment and embarrassment. Alas, much of that fell on deaf ears as the referee proceeded to let the fight continue to its bitter conclusion.

Don King , boxing promoter and infamous showman. Here he talks about his influences , the sport of boxing ,how he feels that he’s influenced and enhanced the sport . Little does he speak of the subpoenas that he’s received over the years from boxers who he’d represented over that time. You can see also, that King has a way with words, as he waxes on so lyrically on a number of subjects. I do believe that he’s swallowed a dictionary !

Now we come full circle where both of these tremendous gladiators of the ring have moved in differing directions as far their lives have gone. Both having been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. However, one of these two fighters is in conscious state of clear health. Aging , but still active in the community , Holmes resides in Scranton , Pennsylvania, with his wife and family close at his side. Ali , as we all know suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, plus various other ailments that have ravaged his body over the course of time. Much of it coming from his many fights within the ring.
Cognitive of those around him , Ali now mumbles as he’s unable to speak , nor can he facilitate any prolonged movement because of the degenerative disease. Furthermore , with him being cloaked in silence , it seems all the more bewildering for us all who’ve witnessed him speak with rapid fire aplomb about he would indeed defeat an opponent. Medication alone won’t bring him back to us in some shape or form that we can all recognize from days of old. Sadly in part, this has been due to the negligence of others. But perhaps , even more so, the negligence shown by Al, in not heeding the advice of others who only wanted the best for him and not the worst.

Ali in a scene from a ESPN commissioned documentary entitled ’30 For 30′ . The titles denotes the sports programming network’s thirty years as a cable broadcast outlet. And it has commissioned a wide variety of documentary films covering sport’s topics of the past thirty years. One of the films in question , is a piece on the Ali – Holmes’ title fight , entitled ‘ Muhammad And Larry’ . Which goes into great detail, as to the lead-up to the fight and what ensued after-wards.

Ali  seen  here  at  a    black  tie  affair   ,  though  cheerful  and   irreverent   . He's   nowhere   near  the person  we  once   idolized  as  a  fan  .        picture appears   courtesy of   askmen.com/ celebtrities/sports-icons/   Brett  Stephenson  ......................

Ali seen here at a black tie formal affair, though cheerful and irreverent . He’s nowhere near the person we all once idolized as fans. picture appears courtesy of askmen.com/archives/images/galleries/muhammad-ali …..

There are very few sporting icons alive today whose names are immediately recognized no matter where you are on the face of the planet. Muhammad Ali is one of those icons whose light still shines brightly in terms of that said recognition. But now, it merely in his own mind , it is but a fading ember as his memory . And for we , his fans all we now have to live with are those memories that are on film. Never again will hear his voice speaking passionately on a wide range of subjects. As his voice has now been silenced in the most cruel of ways. I can only but imagine how different his life might have been ,had he not been struck down by such a debilitating disease.

Ali’s career fight record 56 (37 KO’s)-5

Chronology;
Date of Birth 01/17/1942
Name; Born Cassius Marcellus Clay changed name to Muhammas Ali after change in religious status- becoming a Muslim- Nation of Islam
Place of Birth; Louisville, Kentucky,.
Notable achievements; Olympic Gold Medalist at the 1960 Rome Olympics Lt Heavyweight champion
First Professional fight ; 10/29/1960 Opponent ; Tunney Hunsaker W UD 6 rounds
Final Professional fight ; 12/11/1981 Opponent ; Trevor Berbick L
UD 10 rounds

First man to win the heavyweight title three times

* UD Denotes- Unanimous Decision

Nation of Islam

Author: tophatal ...........

An avid sports' fans that's all !!!!!

12 thoughts on “The Fight To Remember Or Perhaps Not …………….”

    1. Bobby Gee

      The sad thing is after the fight against Holmes , he still went back into the ring for one final fight. He was still under the impression that in spite of the loss to Holmes , he was capable of regaining the world title. In essence nothing was farther from the truth. As I said four or five fights too many sent him on a downward spiral that did irreparable damage to his overall well being and health.

      And though cognizant , he’s essentially become a child locked inside a man’s body , completely unable to speak. It is so had and heart breaking to think that his life has now come to this.
      While this has happened others have profited from his loss as a human being. None more so than that bas_ard Don King ! He’s essentially done the same thing to numerous boxers of the ensuing years . Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson to name but few that he’s ran afoul off. He’s cheated them out of millions of dollars . And many of these very same boxers have filed suit against him only in the end to settle for less than what they were initially owed.

      Alan Parkins

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  1. Yep…TOO many fights. As you know I don’t like boxing for the exact reason of what happened to Ali, not to mention all the others who wound up with diminished mental capacities and physical maladies.
    The biggest other issue was how Ali was treated by the Federal Government when he refused induction….he had good cause as, as a Muslim should have been declared a consciouence(sic) objecter; but we all (NOW) know of how Hoover and all his ilk felt about Ali and many others during this period. At least Ali stayed in the “good ole” USA and fought the charges….he did not flee to Canada or elsewhere…..ah well, God bless the man.

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    1. Al Clements

      That apart as to his treatment by the government is one thing. But what might be even more unpalatable was his mistreatment by Don King . Who essentially was a parasite sucking the life blood out of not only Ali but several other boxers over the ensuing years. The list is as long as an elephant’s trunk. And that’s by no mean virtue.

      What’s need isn’t so much a banning of the sport but more oversight as to the operations of not only the four major governing bodies but also the actions of the numerous fight promoters out there. The various state athletic commissions in the US have been negligent in their duties to say the very least. Hence the reason why Sen. John McCain wanted the federal government to investigate the sport -via the US Justice Dept .

      But nothing has ever been done as the bodies in question have supporters up on Capitol Hill. Even boxing has its own lobbyists – who knew ? LOL,LOL,LOL !!! Need one say anymore ?

      Alan Parkins

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  2. One further: We outlawed dog fighting, cockfighting and all kinds of other things that injure animals sometimes people; we “allow” Boxing which is injurious to the Boxers…..why?
    Is it because the animals have no say in these matters? Yep. But some Boxers are led to believe they have the ability to be “all that”….I think such occured to Ali when he was past his prime.
    Too bad it is not illegal to do that…I loved to hear Ali speak, even his tauting entertained me; he was not a stupid man.

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    1. Al Clements

      But it still doesn’t stop those elements out there who want to inflict harm by nefarious means. If you try to ban boxing, what’s next ? The NFL or even the NHL ?

      Alan Parkins

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    1. chappy 81

      I was out of my teens then . Though I’m not afraid to say I’m a child of the sixties ….. hippie generation as they say. I grew up loving Ali as a fighter. But my own personal favorite was former middleweight champion ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler (62-3-2, 52 KO’s). Fighters back then were real fighters with a great deal of skill. Rarely do you see that nowadays in the true sense of the word. Up until Bernard Hopkins in many people’s eyes he was deemed perhaps the greatest middleweight boxer of the last thirty years.

      As to the fate of Ali , much of that was self inflicted through his own naivete and that of his being induced to fight far too many times after his skills had eroded and the fact that he was very much past his prime. And a lot of that can be attributed to boxing promoter Don King. He’s been nothing more than a parasite leeching of many of the great boxers of yesteryear and many of those who are now boxing today !

      Alan Parkins

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  3. Another great piece, Al, paying credit to a great episode of 30 on 30.

    For some reason, I don’t remember watching this fight as a kid. I do remember watching Ali lose to Spinks the first time, but not this bout.

    Maybe there was a reason I put it out of my memory.

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    1. Chris Humpherys

      I remember the fight vividly as I was approaching my twenty first birthday the following January. Both Ali and I are Capricorns and that’s one of the reasons I think I was somehow drawn to him as a fan. However , he’s not my favorite fighter of all-time. As that honor goes to former middleweight champ Marvin Hagler. Still to this day I think he’s the best middleweight fighter I’ve ever seen. I think he’s better than Carlos Monzon and way better than either Michael Nunn, Roy Jones Jr at his peak. But I’m not so sure how he’d do against B-Hop. That’d be a fight for the ages !

      As to his ensuing fate it’s a shame that he’s now essentially a vegetable . Albeit, that he’s cognitive of everything that’s allegedly happening around him. But I think how he was cajoled into fighting way past his prime by the likes of Don King and Angelo Dundee . What they did was reprehensible and atrocious ! Neither were looking after Ali’s best interests as a fighter. He and King essentially pis_ed and shat on Ali and left his wife and family to pick up whatever pieces were left of the guy, once they’d used him as their ‘ meal ticket’ ! All they essentially after were the dollar bills that could be made at his expense.

      And these words have been attributed to Dundee.

      ” Muhammad Ali was still good enough to have fought Holmes and beat him “!

      What a crock of bulls_hit ! He knew that there was no way in hell that Ali could’ve beaten Holmes . As he was past his prime and his skills had eroded a great deal. People just seem to forget how really good Holmes was at the time. He had made over 19 successful defenses of the heavyweight title before he went on to lose it. And he’d taken on all-comers over that time , avoiding none of the top ranked heavyweights. Only Joe Louis as a heavyweight has ever made more defenses. And there are but a select few fighters that’ve got into the high teens in terms of title defenses in any weight category.

      So I for one don’t know what the hell either King or Dundee were thinking at the time. Unless it was essentially about having a big payday ? Which over the course of time proved to be a large sum of money. In today’s dollars it’d probably be in excess of $125 million or more .

      Alan Parkins

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    1. Chris Humpherys

      The night that Hagler ruthlessly dethroned Alan Minter for the middleweight title I was so pleased. Minter was an a_s to begin with , when he made the statement …..” there’s no way I’m losing my title to a black man.” I was so glad that Hagler whupped his a_s ! It really thrilled me to no end !

      There was absolutely no need for Minter to interject ‘race’ into the equation at all. That shows you how bigoted the world was to an extent and in particular many Caucasians in the UK at the time. Amongst my friends , I was one of the few hoping that Hagler would win. The others were cheering for Minter all the way. After the fight Minter wasn’t yet ready to apologize for making the statement. It wasn’t until several months after that , he acted with some dignity and apologized publicly for the dig at Hagler.

      Alan Parkins

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