Originally Posted by mr. magoo
I agree that 1975-1979 was weak..
But I don't know if I agree with your comment that I just quoted. From 1975 to the time he lost the crown in 1978, Ali defended his title 10 times, and at points was even defending as many as four times annually. Some of those opponents included Joe Frazier, Earnie Shavers, Jimmy Young, Ken Norton, Ron Lyle, and Joe Bugner. I wouldn't exactly call that " holding the title hostage." There are some who call some of those wins "gifts", but that's a different argument entirely. And yes, there were some lesser challengers like Evangelista, Coopman, etc, but when you're defending a title that often and against the caliber of men he was facing, its inevitable that some of your defenses are going to be weak.. Jack Dempsey can be accused of holding the title hostage... Muhammad Ali can't.
You're right. But he was involved in a lot of dodgy decisions (Young, Norton II, Shavers), bullshit fights (Wepner, Coopman, etc). I guess what I meant is that he was clearly declining and only a shadow of what he used to be. At that point you're sort of waiting for the next great thing to step up, beat him, and make you excited about the future. Which then turned out to be Neon Leon.