Re: Did the exile hurt Ali's legacy or did it help it?
Foreman was ranked nr. 2 by the Ring Magazine for 1970, so considering that Ali would have beaten just about every other challenger I think it's reasonable to guess that he would have gotten his title shot in 1971. But of course it could have been later.
The reason why he didn't get a shot at the title until 1973 was that Frazier took it very, very easy after FOTC, only taking on two unranked challengers during the following two years. At the beginning of 1973 Foreman had been ranked second, third and second for the three previous years, so it was either him or Ali (who had been ranked as number one for the whole of that period). Foreman was probably thought to be the easier of the two, but...