Maybe I'm reaching here but it seems that if you look at Ali's opponents, many of them resemble past and future champions either in style, physical abilities, or both: Joe Frazier resembled Rocky Marciano in both style and size. A guy who applied relentless pressure, could dig in with body shots, and had amazing stamina. Rocky had a little more power and was more well rounded while frazier was a little faster and had better bob and weave. Ernie Terrel resembles Wladmir Klitschko in a very eerie way. They not only were the same height at 6'6 and similar reach (81-82) but they employed a similar jab and grab style and used their height to disrupt their opponents offense. Obviously wladmir had more power and offensive ability but I thought that was funny. Another Ali opponent, Joe Bugner, was a tall fighter who avoided slugging and preferred using caution and spoiling tactics. Sonny Liston and Joe Louis were both boxer punchers. Both could bust you up with nasty jabs and could either box you at range or unleash powerful combinations up close. Joe had better technique and speed, Liston was stronger and more durable. His career isnt finished yet, but Anthony Joshua is a modern "super heavyweight" boxer-puncher archetype. Doug Jones reminded me a bit of Chris Byrd, a smaller heavyweight who frustrated you with fidgety movement and the ability to get in and out. Floyd Patterson and Mike Tyson had the same style and were taught by the same man. Both were explosive peak a boo specialists. Tyson was tougher and had more ko power while patterson brought stamina and a more well rounded boxing ability. Earnie Shavers was the classic swing for the fences 1 punch ko artist. Definitely reminds me of guys Max Baer or modern examples in David Tua or Deontay Wilder. All of them lacked finesse and strategy but made up for it with an obsessive need to turn out the other guy's lights. Jimmy Young was a defensive fighter who knew how to win rounds like Jack Johnson. They were known for relying more on speed and using angles, counters, and ring smarts to outhustle the opponent. Obviously Johnson was the more consistent, accomplished fighter but at his best Jimmy Young was no slouch and a very good boxer. Foreman was a pretty unique boxer with an almost unfair combination of power, size, and a granite chin. Belt holders like Ray Mercer, Riddick bowe and Vitali Klitschko remind me of Foreman, very hard to keep guys like them off of you. Big thudding punchers although they lacked speed and werent exactly defensive wizards. Buster Mathis is like the prototype fpr Tyson Fury. A tall fat guy with surprisingly quick feet, a snappy jab, erratic movement, and high ring IQ. You could put Tony Tubbs and Buster Douglas in this category too. George Chuvalo is like the "stone wall" trope in movies and books. Champions like Oliver McCall and Nikolai Valuev could be tough to deal with because of their granite chins, high stamina, and ring generalship. You can forget about knocking them out unless you snuck some brass knuckles into the ring with you. Henry Cooper and Tommy Morrison both lacked durability and size, but they had one hell of a hook! Ron Lyle was a tough slugger who had no quit in him and pleased the crowd with power punches, brawling and aggression. He wasnt just a mindless brute tho, he could sometimes surprise you with a good jab, underrated technique, and following a game plan like he did in his fight with Ali. Champions like Mike Weaver and Dillian Whyte were similar in height and style. Holyfield was another slugger who could also box and follow a game plan when necessary. These guys left it all in the ring and made sure you got your money's worth. Ken Norton was a skilled boxer who could make other skilled boxers look bad. Excellent conditioning, a crab like defense, high ring IQ, and good power. Veterans like Archie Moore and Tim Witherspoon resembled Norton in that regard. ^To me, it almost looks like the way Ali's career panned out, it was as if a higher power was dropping hints to let us know how Ali would look if he got in a time machine and fought the other champions. Either way, I think this just goes to show how great a boxer Ali was that he could deal with all kinds of difficult styles and find a way to win with his own unique brand of boxing. I dont think any other heavyweight champion faced as many opponents who resembled past and future champions like Ali.