Originally Posted by Chaney
I don't think so. The Hauser book (The Life and Times of Muhammed Ali) is a meticulously researched and verified work of biography. Hauser had unprecedented access to Ali and all the main personalities from his story. I would doubt the accuracy of what was written by Richard Durham in Ali's "autobiography" The Greatest, but I think Hauser is an excellent source, the best single volume on Ali, IMO.
What is possible is that Ali was talking 'off the cuff', not in a highly analytical manner. I think he wanted to mention all of his most historically important opponents in one soundbite (i.e, world champions)...and Earnie does not figure in this rollcall. The quote in its entirity also mentions Sonny Liston as Ali's "scariest" opponent. I am also pretty sure that he calls Foreman "the most powerful", not "the hardest puncher" in this quote. There is a difference.
As for Ali's joke about his "ancestors in Africa" feeling the punches from Shavers, he also made exactly the same joke about Henry Cooper's punch that put him on the canvas, on British TV. So we have to be careful about confusing Ali's jokes and soundbites with his considered analysis. Thats why I was interested in reading the full quote where it seemed that Ali had definitivley chosen Shavers over Foreman as the hardest puncher he faced.
This is entirely feasible. The distinction between punching power and physical strength is one that was made by Archie Moore after his challenge of Marciano, when he stated, "He's the strongest
man I've ever fought. I don't know that he's the hardest hitter, but he certainly hits hard enough." (Ultimately, as is well known, Archie credited Yvon Durelle's first KD right as the hardest punch he ever took in his completed career.) The version of Big George who regained the linear HW title is surely the physically strongest boxing champion in history. (Did George ever take a single involuntary backward step inhis entire second career?)
"The Greatest" had some good quotable lines in it, but it was dreadful in terms of making obviously false statements, like identifying Zack Clayton as the referee of Ali's rematch with Liston. (How incompetent can a ghostwriter be, and still make a living?)