How would Ali be ranked if he were only judged on his 1st career?

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by NewChallenger, Feb 24, 2024.



  1. Stevie G

    Stevie G Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    24,202
    6,469
    Jul 17, 2009
    Muhammad would still make top 5 in my opinion. Even his severest critics in the sixties admitted that he was the fastest ever heavyweight up to that point and he looked like he would remain at the the top for quite a while longer at the time he was exiled.

    Another slant to this question - how high in the all time rankings would his record circa 1970-75 as an independant entity take him?
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2024
    Bokaj and JohnThomas1 like this.
  2. Bokaj

    Bokaj Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    26,297
    9,963
    Jan 4, 2008
    No, but the fact is that that win is frequently undermined. Liston is said to have been over 40, drinking heavily and injured.

    Imo he quit in both fights because he was getting beaten. Like Duran in New Orleans. But many are of a different opinion.
     
  3. Kid Bacon

    Kid Bacon All-Time-Fat Full Member

    1,021
    786
    Nov 8, 2011
    Interesting question.

    As others already mentioned it would be better to take a different approach:
    Who is the boxer or are the boxers benefitted the most if there wasn't Ali's 2nd career?
    How much they would improve in the ATG rankings? would they surpass Ali?

    Asumming Ali says "screw this" and goes into retirement in March 1967, it would be Foreman and Frazier the ones probably most favored.
    -Frazier becomes world champion earlier, circa 1967 - 1968, and probably stays at the top until he crosses Foreman in 1973, thus his reign lasts 5 - 6 years. Not bad.
    -Foreman stays as world champion for several years, maybe until 1978 - 1980. Again, not a bad performance.

    In both cases, Frazier and Foreman would surpass Ali easily in the ATG rankings.

    I don't even discard the posibiliy of somebody like Norton, Chuvalo, Shavers or Quarry managing to briefly squeeze to the top, becoming world champions for a while, therefore improving their standings in the ATG rankings.

    With all this, I think Ali would clearly be out of the Top 5, and actually he could even end a fringe Top 10.
    Joe Louis would probably be the undisputed number 1.
    Foreman, Frazier, Marciano and Holmes (in any order) would be completing the Top 5.

    Then you had Holy, Tyson, Lewis, Liston, Wlad, Dempsey, Patterson, etc. disputing with Ali to get into the Top 10.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2024
  4. Melankomas

    Melankomas Prime Jeffries would demolish a grizzly in 2 Full Member

    3,188
    3,519
    Dec 18, 2022
    He would be remembered as the greatest 'what-if' in boxing history.
     
    Stevie G and Kid Bacon like this.
  5. Ney

    Ney Active Member Full Member

    1,334
    1,706
    Feb 13, 2024
    Bigger than Sanchez? Tough call.
     
  6. Greg Price99

    Greg Price99 Boxing Addict Full Member

    3,460
    6,161
    Dec 17, 2018
    Louis would be the clear GOAT HW.

    I think Ali would be in the discussion with the likes of Holmes and Lewis for the no.2.
     
  7. JohnThomas1

    JohnThomas1 VIP Member Full Member

    48,203
    34,938
    Apr 27, 2005
    That's a top post, really well reasoned.
     
  8. JohnThomas1

    JohnThomas1 VIP Member Full Member

    48,203
    34,938
    Apr 27, 2005
    Yep because he's a heavyweight and they are infinitely more in the spotlight. There'd be what if threads almost on a monthly basis and certainly many times a year. There's really not thaaaat much on Sanchez.

    Hell, he may not have even been the best in his division when he died. Some very renowned writers favored Pedroza.
     
    RulesMakeItInteresting and Bokaj like this.
  9. Stevie G

    Stevie G Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    24,202
    6,469
    Jul 17, 2009
    Food for thought. He and Rocky Marciano would be the ones talked about in following years as the only two heavyweight champions to retire undefeated.
     
    JohnThomas1 and Bokaj like this.
  10. RockyJim

    RockyJim Boxing Addict Full Member

    4,962
    2,006
    Mar 26, 2005
    Lots of boxing historians say that if Ali hadn't comeback starting in October 1970 with the Jerry Quarry fight...he would not be held in the same regard as he is now...saying that his first run...(1964-1967) ...was nothing special.
     
  11. Bokaj

    Bokaj Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    26,297
    9,963
    Jan 4, 2008
    I think some would have him nr. 5, and even nr. 1 h2h, on strength of him being unbeaten, beating Liston and outclassing Patterson and Terrell.

    Others would say that Liston was past his best and that the fix was in at least once, and that Patterson was injured and Terrell wasn't anything. They would have him outside the top 5 and in cases even top 10.

    For me he'd probably make the top 5. Hard to see 5 I'd comfortably have above 29-0 Ali.

    Sure would have been an oft repeated discussion, though.
     
    Kid Bacon and Stevie G like this.
  12. Bokaj

    Bokaj Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    26,297
    9,963
    Jan 4, 2008
    Who are all of these historians saying his first reign "was nothing special"? Haven't seen one say that.

    That would also be very strange since I think Louis is the only one who's had a reign with more successful defences for the undisputed/lineal. And no one else has cleaned out a The Ring top 10 like he did 64-67.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2024
    JohnThomas1 and Stevie G like this.
  13. NewChallenger

    NewChallenger Member Full Member

    190
    164
    Oct 17, 2020
    Ali had Liston and Patterson on his resume. That is not a small detail, that is HUGE.
     
    Bokaj likes this.
  14. NewChallenger

    NewChallenger Member Full Member

    190
    164
    Oct 17, 2020
    To me, I never understood Liston being "past his best" If you look at his last 8 fights, 7 of them didn't go past the 3rd round. And his aura of invincibility was created in those fights. That is where he knocked out Patterson in 1 round twice, that is where he knocked out Cleveland Williams and did it faster than the first time. He knocked out Zora Foley too which wasn't a bad fighter.

    He wasn't past his prime, he just couldn't get any better. If you have your knocked out 7 out of your 8 last opponents, and pretty mcuh your whole legacy was built around those 8 fights up until then, and the guy who beat you ,you couldn't knock out as he was blind. I don't really understand where all this is coming from.

    I could see some cases be made for like George, even thuogh I don't agree with it. Like it being in Africa or the ropes being loose, again, they are poor arguments, but I could see them as arguments. For Liston , I just don't see any valid excuse.
     
    Pedro_El_Chef likes this.
  15. Bokaj

    Bokaj Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    26,297
    9,963
    Jan 4, 2008
    People are inventive when it comes to Liston. Because of lack of good records concerning his birth date he's said to have been in his 40's. And he was also drinking heavily, without much to back it up, and he was injured.

    So there are excuses with back-ups. Most of it pretty flimsy. But I do believe there's a case that he took Ali lightly and then the rematch took more than a year to materialise, which is a quite a bit of time considering he was in any case not younger than 33 at the time of the rematch.
    But then of course there's also the question if Ali truly had hit his prime for the first fight, after just turning 22.

    So, I think that those wins should rank highly if you approach them objectively, but it wasn't the Liston of, say, the first Patterson fight and the way both fights ended will always leave room for speculation.

    But to call this reign into question, which is quite frequently done, requires that you want to do, though, imo. Dismiss the Patterson win with injury, the Terrell win with injury and frame it like Chuvalo and Mildenberger gave him some life or death struggles because they managed to win a few rounds is not an honest take, I think, but still not uncommon.

    It could be argued, though, that Ali wouldn't be this bigger than life icon that some always have the need to puncture if he didn't come back, and that the view of his first reign would be more balanced on the whole.