Re: Ali's Prime Opposition
An awful lot of Ali's stock is probably invested in what might and should have been, if he'd continued to compete through the late 1960s. Much overlooked when discussing this subject is Muhammad's performances against a peak Jerry Quarry, who NOBODY else had a picnic with in the nine years he was a prominent contender (except perhaps Frazier in their rematch).
Much of his first title reign was devoted to restoring the credibilty of the HW championship, by granting shots to contenders who were long overdue for one, through D'Amato's and Patterson's breaking of Jim Norris's IBC stranglehold on HW boxing.
Ali's time in the wilderness of the early 1970s wasn't exactly littered with tomato can opposition. Even Jurgen Blin put up a spirited resistance in Zurich.