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View Poll Results: Ali's most difficult opponent?
Joe Frazier 30 61.22%
Ken Norton 19 38.78%
Voters: 49. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 10-28-2008, 04:15 PM   #1
Robbi
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Default Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

This may surprise some people, but I think Norton was Ali's most difficult opponent. Two of his fights with Norton were non-title affairs. They never had the glamour or pre-fight hype that surrounded the first and third Ali-Frazier fights. But looking at all these fights strictly in isolation when it comes to what happened between the ropes, perhaps Norton actually gave Ali more trouble than Frazier did.

Norton did have a slight advantage as he fought Ali after Manila. And Frazier has the best win when he beat the undefeated, closest to prime, Ali in 1971. Norton's win and perhaps the most convincing of all the fights either had against Ali was his 1973, non title bout, in San Diego. Norton won that fight without any dispute whatsoever. The second fight was certainly close with that last round more or less deciding the fight. It's arguable if Norton also won that fight. Ali-Frazier II comes with 'next to no' controversy. I haven't mentioned all six fights, so please give me your thoughts.

Perhaps Norton's jab was the the primary reason he gave Ali more trouble than Frazier did. At long range Norton done pretty well against Ali. He'd jab at the same time as Ali, push him to the ropes, then go to the body with both hands to bring Ali's hands down, thus exposing him for head shots. Norton was also physically stronger than Frazier which helped him in the clinches. Frazier was maybe a better worker inside with volume. His height certainly helped somewhat and the way he fought 'bobbing and weaving'. His style suited going to Ali's body more consistently.

Whats your thoughts?
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Old 10-28-2008, 04:19 PM   #2
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

I don't know if we can really differentiate between the two. Sure, its possible that Norton may have given Ali two additional tougher fights than Frazier, and may even have been robbed in one of them, but its still very close. Also, I would argue that the fight of the century Ali was a tad better conditioned in 1971, than the one who entered the ring at 220 Lbs against Norton in 1973 ( no excuses though ).
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Old 10-28-2008, 04:58 PM   #3
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

I feel that Norton was the somewhat tougher opponent. IMO no one gave as good a version of Ali as the one in Ali-Norton II as tough a fight as Norton did. I believe that that Ali was a bit better than the one in FOTC.

I can't of course say for sure exactly how the Ali of the Norton rematch would have fared in FOTC, but I think he would have done somewhat better than he did in reality.
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Old 10-28-2008, 04:59 PM   #4
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr. magoo
Also, I would argue that the fight of the century Ali was a tad better conditioned in 1971, than the one who entered the ring at 220 Lbs against Norton in 1973 ( no excuses though ).
I agree. Probably more than a tad, even,
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Old 10-28-2008, 05:07 PM   #5
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

Intriguing question.
Ali was in better shape for Frazier I than Norton I and and less washed-up for Frazier III than Norton III, so they're hard to compare.
But the second fights against the two were only months apart with Ali in comparable conditions and I'd say Norton did marginally better in his fight.

Frazier was the better fighter overall but Nortons style was more bothersome.

Smokin Joe with his constant aggression mainly tested alis defense and resilience.
Norton while an aggressive fighter with his awkward crablike style first and foremost nullified Alis offense and tested his patience.

Frazier made Ali look good even in losing, Norton made Ali look bad even in winning.

Frazier hurt him more while Norton bored him and as I believe that Ali would r choose pain over boredom he probably prefered to fight Frazier.
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Old 10-28-2008, 05:34 PM   #6
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

Frazier if you ask me. He fought a much better version of Ali than Norton. Ali was 10 lbs overweight for the first fight with Norton and clearly underestimated him. When he was in-shape in the rematch, Ali beat him. In 1976, Ali had little left while Norton was at his peak, having recovered from the Foreman beating and posting impressive wins.

To summarize, Norton had the advantage of being at or near his peak for all three Ali fights, while Ali was out of shape for the first, in good condition for the second (which he won), and far past his best for the third.

Frazier on the other hand, was at his peak for the first fight (which Frazier won clearly), but declining heavily during the second two fights, as did Ali of course. And both were pretty damn close.


Frazier won his fight more decisive against a better version of Ali. Something else to note is that the Frazier fights took something out of Ali. Ali went from a capable fighter who handled Foreman to a nearly a shot fighter in Manilla.
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Old 10-28-2008, 05:39 PM   #7
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

Well, it's a chess match with Norton. Life or death with Frazier.
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Old 10-28-2008, 05:53 PM   #8
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisPontius
Frazier if you ask me. He fought a much better version of Ali than Norton. Ali was 10 lbs overweight for the first fight with Norton and clearly underestimated him. When he was in-shape in the rematch, Ali beat him. In 1976, Ali had little left while Norton was at his peak, having recovered from the Foreman beating and posting impressive wins.

To summarize, Norton had the advantage of being at or near his peak for all three Ali fights, while Ali was out of shape for the first, in good condition for the second (which he won), and far past his best for the third.

Frazier on the other hand, was at his peak for the first fight (which Frazier won clearly), but declining heavily during the second two fights, as did Ali of course. And both were pretty damn close.


Frazier won his fight more decisive against a better version of Ali. Something else to note is that the Frazier fights took something out of Ali. Ali went from a capable fighter who handled Foreman to a nearly a shot fighter in Manilla.
Norton was looked upon as a journeyman going into the first Ali fight. He never had the experience that Frazier did when he fought Ali in 1971. Frazier was a world champion at the time and at his peak. It must be said that Ali was unmotivated for the first fight which obviously takes a little bit shine off Norton's win. But nonetheless, Norton probably dominated Ali in that first fight more than Frazier did in the FOTC. Thats very arguable.

When you mentioned that Ali won the second fight against Norton. You didn't mention the controversy which surrounds that fight in your last post. The general consensus is that Ali won by a thickness of a razor blade. You also mention that Frazier was declining for the second and third fights. Fair doos. But you mention that both were close. Manila was close up until the stoppage, but the rematch wasn't. Certainly not as close as Ali-Norton II.
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Old 10-28-2008, 05:59 PM   #9
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bum of the week
Intriguing question.
Ali was in better shape for Frazier I than Norton I and and less washed-up for Frazier III than Norton III, so they're hard to compare.
But the second fights against the two were only months apart with Ali in comparable conditions and I'd say Norton did marginally better in his fight.

Frazier was the better fighter overall but Nortons style was more bothersome.

Smokin Joe with his constant aggression mainly tested alis defense and resilience.
Norton while an aggressive fighter with his awkward crablike style first and foremost nullified Alis offense and tested his patience.

Frazier made Ali look good even in losing, Norton made Ali look bad even in winning.

Frazier hurt him more while Norton bored him and as I believe that Ali would r choose pain over boredom he probably prefered to fight Frazier.
Very good post, as usual. It should be pointed out that Norton was at his peak in the rematch with Ali while Frazier probably was slightly past his in 1974, though.

But I think that Ali won with a considerably more comfortable margin in the rematch with Frazier than in the one with Norton. In the rematch with Frazier he looked to have quite a lot of gas left in the last round, while he needed to squeeze every last drop to beat Norton.
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Old 10-28-2008, 06:21 PM   #10
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

Norton beat Ali 2-1 in my book, and hurt Ali more than Frazier did. I think Norton was tougher for Ali than Frazier by a small but noticeable margin.
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Old 10-28-2008, 06:32 PM   #11
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

While I think Norton would've likely always been a tough fight for Ali, the mileage that had built up on Ali had more to do with the styles matchup IMO, and I see Ali winning a clear UD prime for prime. Frazier would've always been very tough for Ali the way I see it.
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Old 10-28-2008, 06:48 PM   #12
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robbi
This may surprise some people, but I think Norton was Ali's most difficult opponent. Two of his fights with Norton were non-title affairs. They never had the glamour or pre-fight hype that surrounded the first and third Ali-Frazier fights. But looking at all these fights strictly in isolation when it comes to what happened between the ropes, perhaps Norton actually gave Ali more trouble than Frazier did.

Norton did have a slight advantage as he fought Ali after Manila. And Frazier has the best win when he beat the undefeated, closest to prime, Ali in 1971. Norton's win and perhaps the most convincing of all the fights either had against Ali was his 1973, non title bout, in San Diego. Norton won that fight without any dispute whatsoever. The second fight was certainly close with that last round more or less deciding the fight. It's arguable if Norton also won that fight. Ali-Frazier II comes with 'next to no' controversy. I haven't mentioned all six fights, so please give me your thoughts.

Perhaps Norton's jab was the the primary reason he gave Ali more trouble than Frazier did. At long range Norton done pretty well against Ali. He'd jab at the same time as Ali, push him to the ropes, then go to the body with both hands to bring Ali's hands down, thus exposing him for head shots. Norton was also physically stronger than Frazier which helped him in the clinches. Frazier was maybe a better worker inside with volume. His height certainly helped somewhat and the way he fought 'bobbing and weaving'. His style suited going to Ali's body more consistently.

Whats your thoughts?
Ken Norton, due to his style, was tougher than that of Joe Frazier for the great Muhammad Ali.

MR.BILL

Extra:

However, the fights with Joe Frazier were more exciting... Cheerio...
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Old 10-28-2008, 06:51 PM   #13
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweet Pea
While I think Norton would've likely always been a tough fight for Ali, the mileage that had built up on Ali had more to do with the styles matchup IMO, and I see Ali winning a clear UD prime for prime. Frazier would've always been very tough for Ali the way I see it.
I disagree. The difference of opinion is easily understandable. It's a debate which I shall take lightly with anyone. I don't think Ali had many tough fights between Frazier I and the first Norton fight. He was in with the likes of Bugner, Mathis, Ellis, Blin, etc, between those fights. He certainly wasn't taking any beatings that would put significant mileage on him physically.

I see Norton giving a prime Ali a tough fight. His jabbing strategy under Eddie Futch was all based around timing and parying Ali's jab while coming right back with his own. While the prime Ali would have the reflexes and handspeed to make things better defensively, I still see Norton having decent success. Norton's outside game gives a prime Ali more problems than Frazier's general style of trying to get underneath Ali's punches up until he got reasonably close enough to work at mid-range and on his chest.
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Old 10-28-2008, 07:01 PM   #14
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

Norton.

However, that's only because of the stage of his career. A peak Ali would've handled Norton much easier than a peak Ali would've handled Frazier. I thought it was pretty evident that when Ali was up on his toes, he was giving Norton fits. He couldn't sustain the dancing for the distance in the 70s though, not to mention the reflexes were nowhere near what they were.
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Old 10-28-2008, 07:10 PM   #15
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

I'd like to hear JT and Stonehands' opinion on my initial opening post as well as both Norton and Frazier at their absolute peaks going up against a mid-60's prime Ali.
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