Originally Posted by Bokaj
But let's say that he never went into exile and ruled supreme for 14 years until he lost to Holmes in 1978 with 30+ defenses under his belt (I'm not saying he necessarily would reign that long, but if he did), could anyone dispute his standing as the nr. 1 HW? Wouldn't he have a good claim to be seen as one of the very best p4p, even?
The exile hurt his legacy plain and simple.
His spring 67-fall 70 reign would have laid to waste a ton of solid fighters, including Frazier. Granted, he wasn't by any means battle worn by the Foreman fight given his layoff but Foreman 73 might have been his Waterloo even tho I consider Ali to be superior to George. A 64-73 Ali reign would have even more cemented him as the ATG HW. At age 60, I now see Ali's second reign in perspective. Inside George's head in Zaire, ruined him, never a rematch. Norton gave the comeback Ali hell, lost the third fight. Bums of the month. Controlled the sport for three solid years after regaining the title. It hurts to say it but he controlled every bout after Foreman with everyone slobbering over his greatness. He still fought like a champion but what we really would have seen wasn't there.