Re: Ali vs Foreman : 2
I would not be in the least bit surprised if George was hoping that one of his former victims who had previously defeated Ali would win their rubber match for the title. Should Frazier have prevailed in Manila, or Norton in New York, they would have only been considered caretaker champions until facing Foreman. Then, once again as a defending champion, George would have more control over the terms of a rematch with Ali. As a Houston native, if Foreman managed to resolve the issues which had previously induced him to defend the title abroad, he ought to have arranged a rematch defense homecoming in the Astrodome (a very familiar place to Ali, where he previously beat hometown favorite Cleveland Williams, as well as Ernie Terrell, Jimmy Ellis, and Buster Mathis). That shouldn't have been difficult for George to have set up.
In Kinshasa, Ali fought George's fight, and prevailed. Loose ropes ought to have made it easier for Foreman to knock Ali out of the ring, yet it was a miss by George which nearly sent HIM tumbling over the top rope. Foreman got Muhammad in a 16 foot telephone booth with soft flooring, which prevented Ali from moving as he normally would without tiring. Muhammad gave the left side of his body away to George's lethal right without wilting. George was bigger, younger, stronger, and had never sustained a beating like Ali did in the FOTC. Foreman had seemingly proved his boxing skill and endurance earlier, in the first and second Peralta fights.
Muhammad did have the crowd on his side in Kinshasa, just as he did against Holmes in Las Vegas, but the crowd wasn't doing the fighting for him. An awful lot of people have said the cards were stacked in Ali's favor against George, but except for the arena audience, it seems to me that a stronger case could be made for Foreman having the competitive advantages as the match started.
How could an older man simply absorb powerful right hands to the body like that without slowing down? How is it, that George didn't break Ali's left side short ribs, without Muhammad protecting them? How on Earth did Ali rocket off LOOSE ropes with lightning bolt right hands that carried that kind of speed?
When Ali last boxed in an air conditioned Astrodome against hometown opposition, he produced the peak performance of his career. How much faster and harder would his right hands have been, if he'd had tight ropes to rebound them off of? Leaning as far back as he was against those slack ropes in Kinshasa, it was amazing to me that Ali was ever able to reach Foreman's head with right crosses starting from the third row. It blows my mind that even with George able to see them coming from such a long distance away, he couldn't move to avoid them. How much more energy would the older Ali have had in an air conditioned environment? And would George have left the Astrodome in a hearse?