5 greatest fights from Muhammad Ali’s illustrious career
Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, along with countless other illustrious opponents have faced the brunt of Muhammad Ali’s glove at some point, but the Louisville Lip’s sheer grit managed to leave a permanent mark on things far greater.
Not only did he break racial barriers by taking pride in his African heritage and inspiring countless, outrageously talented Afro-Americans to shed their colour inhibitions and go on make a name for themselves in a largely white dominated ‘60s United States but also pioneered his infamous brand of trash talk - which continues to be used by nearly every fighter worth his/her salt today. His commendable determination, dazzling talent and gift of the gab – all of which made people root for the perceived underdog – saw him evolve from a mere boxer to an icon of American pop culture.
Having made such an impact on world history, it comes as no surprise that he acquired the title of the Greatest – a title met with little astonishment from the man himself. All in all, it can be safely said that Ali remains undefeated even in death, as his legacy will undoubtedly continue to live on. In fact, one can almost imagining him cautioning the Grim Reaper with the words: ”If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologise”. Here’s looking back at Muhammad Ali’s five greatest fights.
1) Clay vs. Sonny Liston (25 February 1964)
Labelled as one of the biggest upsets in boxing history, the bout against world heavyweight champion Sonny Liston was what made everybody sit up and take serious notice of Ali’s credentials as a boxer.
Liston, who once remarked that if he fought Clay – a 1960 Olympics gold medallist - he’d get locked up for murder, entered the match as the undisputed favourite, but as soon as the first bell rang, it was clear that the tide was in favour of Ali – then going by his birth name of Cassius Clay.
Liston began the match by rushing at Clay, hoping to knock out his young opponent quickly, but was soon overcome by the latter’s magnificent speed and jabs, and eventually conceded defeat before the seventh round commenced. As soon as his opponent threw in the towel, Ali uttered the unforgettable line "I am the greatest ... I shook up the world."
There was Clay, the youngest boxer to take the title from a reigning heavyweight champion, ready to create more history. The unforgettable match was followed by another shocker in the form of Clay’s decision to convert to Islam and change his name into one that he’d be remembered by for the rest of his life – Muhammad Ali.