Re: Did the exile hurt Ali's legacy or did it help it?
Sooner or later the superstardom that Muhammad Ali enjoyed so much would have led to more slacking off training, the groupies, the over-confidence, loss of focus .... and he would have lost to a hungry fighter, perhaps Frazier or Norton or someone else.
The idea that he would have reigned until 1978 and made 30 defences or more is hard to justify.
Actually the injustice of having his title taken away gave him a ton of motivation in the 1970s, as did his loss to Frazier in '71, and even then he wasn't 100% for every fight like he should have been.
If he had stayed active and dominant in 1967 he would almost certainly have slacked off and lost his title within a few years.