Rank Muhammad Ali's Challengers - 2nd Reign

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by sweetsci, Oct 17, 2020.


  1. sweetsci

    sweetsci Well-Known Member Full Member

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    Your criteria is up to you.

    1. Joe Frazier
    2. Ken Norton
    3. Jimmy Young
    4. Ron Lyle
    5. Earnie Shavers
    6. Leon Spinks
    7. Joe Bugner
    8. Alfredo Evangelista
    9. Chuck Wepner
    10. Richard Dunn
    11. Jean-Pierre Coopman

    The hardest part of this list was #1 and #2. In the end I went for Frazier because, despite the closeness of the Norton fight, Joe gave Ali a much tougher test in Manila than Norton provided at Yankee Stadium. I also debated between Lyle and Shavers. In the end I picked Lyle because I felt he had a better overall career than Shavers, he was ahead on scorecards in their fight, and he has the win over Shavers.

    All in all I had a much easier time compiling this list than the list of Holmes' challengers. Here you can almost do an up and down "this guy beat this guy."
     
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  2. Big Ukrainian

    Big Ukrainian Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    Very interesting thread, and I agree completely (the same exact ranking).

    Frazier and Norton very close, but I'd give edge to Joe based on his better career overall.
    Young was in his prime, and he beat Lyle who is rightfully at #4, edging Shavers.

    Wepner was not a world class definitely, still better than Dunn and Coopman.

    Dunn was very weak challenger, feather fists and glass jaw, not a top-30 HW in reality. How did he get the title shot?

    Coopman was awful, even worse than Dunn. Don't think he has ever belonged to top-50 at any point of his career.
    He got KTFO'd by some weak opponents on several occasions. It's not strange that Evangelista destroyed him in 1.
     
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  3. Colonel Sanders

    Colonel Sanders NSB defector Full Member

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    half of those names are circus worthy
     
  4. sweetsci

    sweetsci Well-Known Member Full Member

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    Interesting premise.
    I think 1975 was a good year for Ali with Lyle, Bugner, and Frazier, all guys we talk about on the forum regularly. And four title defenses in one year is pretty good. Wepner is the only "gimme" and even he hadn't lost in several years (though the Terrell fight should have been a loss).

    1976... Coopman, Young, Dunn, and Norton. Again, four defenses. Plus Inoki. But Coopman and Dunn, in my opinion were his two worst challengers. Who do we substitute for Coopman after Frazier III? Bobick? Holmes? Johnny Boudreaux? Henry Clark? And do we throw out the Dunn fight and Inoki travesty and go for a summer rematch with Young? Norton III was the talk of the year and big money fight, so I doubt Ali would risk it with a Young rematch. Foreman was busy rebuilding his brand and confidence. So was Shavers. At least Dunn was British, Commonwealth, and European champ, holding that trifecta of belts going into the Ali fight.

    1977... Only two defenses, Evangelista and Shavers. Maybe May 1977 would've been the time to take on Bobick, rather than feeding him to Norton. Or the guy who beat Evangelista in February, Lorenzo Zanon. Or bring in Young after the Norton rematch. A younger Ali would've taken on Young after Young beat Foreman.

    With a lot of guys fighting each other or (re)building their careers, considering contextual factors, there weren't a lot of choices who weren't circus worthy. Coopman and Evangelista were the only ones who really weren't qualified; Coopman due to just not being qualified, Evangelista due to his loss three months previously to Zanon.

    1978... Yeah, Spinks was the gold medalist. But his inexperience and draw against LeDoux should've disqualified him. Ali should've fought the then underrated Holmes and passed the title on legitimately then and there. But Ali knew how good Holmes was. And he knew how not-so-good Spinks was (and Spinks had that Olympic Gold promotional cache). He just didn't know how much he himself had slipped.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2020
  5. Bokaj

    Bokaj Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    That's one way of viewing it. Another is that he fought his three most deserving challengers, plus good contenders such as Lyle and Bugner, within two years of winning the crown back. I could do with a bit of circus if we got to see that today.
     
  6. Bokaj

    Bokaj Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    The first two years of his reign were really good. But after Norton I think he knew he wasn't quite up to it anymore and just tried to milk the title for as long as possible. Letting Young and Norton idle away on the sidelines while facing Evangelista and Spinks isn't really how you want a champion to behave.
     
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  7. mark ant

    mark ant Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    Lyle was awful v Ali and Ali was missing early on v Lyle just covering his head trying the rope a dope.
     
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  8. Reinhardt

    Reinhardt Boxing Addict Full Member

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    Can't put Spinks above Bugner, aside from that it's about right.
     
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  9. Bokaj

    Bokaj Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    Lyle wasn't awful at all against Ali. He put in a good performance.
     
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  10. Fergy

    Fergy Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    Truly, an awful fight. Ali came close to losing it.
    Lyle could very easily have gotten there before Leon.
     
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  11. Unforgiven

    Unforgiven Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    Yeah, I thought the same. Swap Bugner and Spinks around and it looks right.
     
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  12. Webbiano

    Webbiano Boxing Junkie Full Member

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    To be honest if Lyle was as good as a lot of people seem to believe he would have. That’s what the ‘Golden 70s’ rose tinted glasses do to a lot of people though.
     
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  13. mark ant

    mark ant Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    The fight was pathetic, Ali had hardly anything left and Lyle was just plodding forwards throwing predictable shots until Ali rallied and stopped him.
     
  14. Man_Machine

    Man_Machine Boxing Addict Full Member

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    Yeah - He had so little left that it's a wonder how Ali managed to compete in what is arguably the greatest Heavyweight Fight of All Time - two fights later, that same year.
     
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  15. Bokaj

    Bokaj Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

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    Lyle had the right fight plan. Instead of wailing away on Ali when he stood on the ropes he picked away and put rounds in the bank.

    It was a poor, uninspired effort by Ali, until the brilliant finish, but that wasn't Lyle's fault. He was a solid challenger that put in a good performance, but one moment of brilliance from Ali was enough to undo it. No shade on Lyle for that.