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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, 08:15 PM   #16
ChrisPontius
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

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Originally Posted by Robbi
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.
Ali won close in the rematch with Norton, but the rematch with Frazier was pretty close as well. Maybe not as close, but pretty close nonetheless.


I think Clark makes a great point, and it may be a subjective one, but given by how it's a close situation i think it is worth repeating: Norton beat Ali by scoring more points here and there. Frazier thrashed Ali the first and third time to such a degree he was never was the same again.
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:07 PM   #17
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

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Originally Posted by clark
Well, it's a chess match with Norton. Life or death with Frazier.
Frazier was to Ali what the Joker was to Batman, what Godzilla was to King Kong. What Aunt Esther was to Fred Sanford, the classic rivalry, and neither side would budge an inch for the other. Two awesome warriors, both stubborn as mules and PRIDEFUL like a Mofo. Even Richard Pryor saw this "Joe Frazier would NOT lay down for Ali"
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:38 PM   #18
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

Joe Frazier.
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Old 10-29-2008, 02:03 AM   #19
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

I'd pick Frazier. Norton was a technical puzzle whose style and strategy made him difficult for Ali, (more difficult than Frazier's did), but Frazier was THE rival to Ali. And Frazier consistently hurt Ali and had him fighting for his life for at least periods in all three of their fights.
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Old 10-29-2008, 02:16 AM   #20
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

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Originally Posted by bum of the week

Frazier made Ali look good even in losing, Norton made Ali look bad even in winning.
An excellent point.
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Old 10-29-2008, 02:16 AM   #21
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

The Ali-Frazier fights were chronologically earlier, Ali was generally lighter and better-conditioned for them, and he was all-around more prepared and more serious when facing Frazier than when facing Norton. Ali viewed Frazier as his chief rival and premier foe, while Norton was just another contender, not to mention that two of the three Ali-Frazier fights were mega-event title fights, whereas two of the three Ali-Norton encounters were low-publicity non-title affairs. Frazier still posted the most resounding win over Ali, actually has a case for a win or draw in the rematch, and brought Ali "the closest he'd ever been to dying" in the rubber.
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Old 10-29-2008, 02:57 AM   #22
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

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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.
Good post Chris,with which I agree,though I think the accepted verdict that Frazier was" gone", a little overstated, he was 29 the same age as Ali when Frazier beat him.Plus Frazier had been active ,albeit against 3 rd division men .
The assertion by another poster that Norton was stronger than Frazier ,I find debatable,and the fact that he said Norton's height bothered Ali,Norton did not" fight tall" ,he came forward in a half crouch,tall men didnt trouble Ali as much as the shorter guys.The key to Norton's success against Ali was to [as instructed by Eddie Futch]jab when he does ,to negate his jab.This and the fact that Ali did not have the power to intimidate Norton ,and push him back.
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Old 10-29-2008, 04:55 AM   #23
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marciano Frazier
The Ali-Frazier fights were chronologically earlier, Ali was generally lighter and better-conditioned for them, and he was all-around more prepared and more serious when facing Frazier than when facing Norton. Ali viewed Frazier as his chief rival and premier foe, while Norton was just another contender, not to mention that two of the three Ali-Frazier fights were mega-event title fights, whereas two of the three Ali-Norton encounters were low-publicity non-title affairs. Frazier still posted the most resounding win over Ali, actually has a case for a win or draw in the rematch, and brought Ali "the closest he'd ever been to dying" in the rubber.
Ali definitely was slightly out of condition for their third fight..
He thought it was going to be an easy night,like their second fight.
The heat and humidity of Manilla didn't help too and the fact that the referee Padilla was not allowing any of the holding behind the head tactics,that had served him so well in Frazier II and Zaire.
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Old 10-29-2008, 05:24 AM   #24
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

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Originally Posted by Arka
Ali definitely was slightly out of condition for their third fight..
He thought it was going to be an easy night,like their second fight.
The heat and humidity of Manilla didn't help too and the fact that the referee Padilla was not allowing any of the holding behind the head tactics,that had served him so well in Frazier II and Zaire.
This fight went 14 brutal rounds in, as you allude to, sweltering heat and humidity, and was an all-time compubox giant in terms of punches thrown by both guys, yet Ali was in there firing strong and winning in the last two rounds- the man was not out of shape! He was considerably heavier than in his prime, mind you, at 224 1/2, but he was weighing around the mid-220s for all of his fights at that stage, and Frazier was also substantially heavier than his peak self. The main noticeable difference is that, in many of his fights immediately preceding and especially proceeding this one, you saw a lackadaisical, lethargic Ali who would spend substantial portions of the fight laying on the ropes doing nothing ("rope-a-dope"-ing was his excuse, but the tactic was pretty much useless post-Foreman)- see the Norton rubbermatch, for instance. At that stage, Ali was perhaps becoming a bit jaded all-around. Manila was about the last time you really saw a galvanised Ali.

Note, also, that Frazier and Ali were declining together in their series. A prime Frazier beat a slightly-past-prime Ali in the Fight of the Century, then a past-prime Frazier lost (very narrowly) to a past-prime Ali in the rematches. Norton was in his prime for all of his fights with Ali, and his series started and ended later than Frazier's did, with him facing a virtually-shot Ali in the rubber match. It is true that Norton did arguably win the third Ali fight, but when one takes into consideration that at that point, Ali had already arguably lost to Jimmy Young earlier that year, and would go on to arguably lose to Shavers the next year, then actually lose to Leon Spinks the following February, I don't think it's all that terribly impressive. The post-Manila Ali was little more than a shell of his old self.
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Old 10-29-2008, 05:29 AM   #25
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

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Originally Posted by Marciano Frazier
This fight went 14 brutal rounds in, as you allude to, sweltering heat and humidity, and was an all-time compubox giant in terms of punches thrown by both guys, yet Ali was in there firing strong and winning in the last two rounds- the man was not out of shape! He was considerably heavier than in his prime, mind you, at 224 1/2, but he was weighing around the mid-220s for all of his fights at that stage, and Frazier was also substantially heavier than his peak self. The main noticeable difference is that, in many of his fights immediately preceding and especially proceeding this one, you saw a lackadaisical, lethargic Ali who would spend substantial portions of the fight laying on the ropes doing nothing ("rope-a-dope"-ing was his excuse, but the tactic was pretty much useless post-Foreman)- see the Norton rubbermatch, for instance. At that stage, Ali was perhaps becoming a bit jaded all-around. Manila was about the last time you really saw a galvanised Ali.

Note, also, that Frazier and Ali were declining together in their series. A prime Frazier beat a slightly-past-prime Ali in the Fight of the Century, then a past-prime Frazier lost (very narrowly) to a past-prime Ali in the rematches. Norton was in his prime for all of his fights with Ali, and his series started and ended later than Frazier's did, with him facing a virtually-shot Ali in the rubber match. It is true that Norton did arguably win the third Ali fight, but when one takes into consideration that at that point, Ali had already arguably lost to Jimmy Young earlier that year, and would go on to arguably lose to Shavers the next year, then actually lose to Leon Spinks the following February, I don't think it's all that terribly impressive. The post-Manila Ali was little more than a shell of his old self.
Hmmm...I largely agree with you.However,I still think Ali looked more conditioned and sharper in the Foreman fight
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Old 10-29-2008, 06:12 AM   #26
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

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Originally Posted by Arka
Hmmm...I largely agree with you.However,I still think Ali looked more conditioned and sharper in the Foreman fight
Well, yes, I agree that Ali was sharper/trimmer against Foreman. I think he let himself go a bit after the Foreman fight, and consequently couldn't get back down to sub-220 anymore even if he wanted to, at least without draining himself silly self-destructively like he did for Holmes. However, as I said before, there is no way he could've done what he did in Manila without being in absolutely elite physical condition.
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Old 10-29-2008, 06:51 AM   #27
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

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Originally Posted by Jbuz
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.
I don't agree. As I've said, for me the versions of Ali from the rematches with Norton and Frazier (1973 resp. 1974) was the ones that was closest to peak Ali. (He had his peak weight of 212 lbs in both matches.)

And that Ali had more trouble with Norton than with Frazier. Even when he was dancing he had trouble getting to Norton with his jab and one-twos, and when he slowed down Norton gave him absolute hell. That shows to me that Norton would be difficult for any version of Ali.
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Old 10-29-2008, 06:53 AM   #28
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

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Originally Posted by Marciano Frazier
Well, yes, I agree that Ali was sharper/trimmer against Foreman. I think he let himself go a bit after the Foreman fight, and consequently couldn't get back down to sub-220 anymore even if he wanted to, at least without draining himself silly self-destructively like he did for Holmes. However, as I said before, there is no way he could've done what he did in Manila without being in absolutely elite physical condition.
You're right. For me that version of Ali was on par with the one in FOTC, the difference being that he fought smarter in Manilla.
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Old 10-29-2008, 07:05 AM   #29
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

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Originally Posted by Bokaj
You're right. For me that version of Ali was on par with the one in FOTC, the difference being that he fought smarter in Manilla.
I think a bigger difference would be that Frazier was 10 pounds heavier and heavily-declined since their first fight. I don't think either guy was as good as he had been four years earlier, as a result of their slowing, softening bodies. However, their hearts were as big as ever, and they certainly still both had the endurance and vigor of champions.
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Old 10-29-2008, 07:41 AM   #30
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Default Re: Muhammad Ali's most difficult opponent, Frazier or Norton?

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Originally Posted by Marciano Frazier
I think a bigger difference would be that Frazier was 10 pounds heavier and heavily-declined since their first fight. I don't think either guy was as good as he had been four years earlier, as a result of their slowing, softening bodies. However, their hearts were as big as ever, and they certainly still both had the endurance and vigor of champions.
Frazier wasn't quite what he had been in FOTC, but as you said the punchstats for both was even greater than in the first fight. They both had enough left for one great fight.

I think that Ali fought a better, smarter fight in Manilla than in FOTC. He didn't drop his right hand as much (thus exposing himself less for the great left hook) and paced himself better. Both fights were actually very much in the balance after 9-10 rds, but in Manilla Ali took command of the fight while Frazier did the same in FOTC.
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