Was Ali's Rope-A-Dope the plan or was it on the fly?

Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by NewChallenger, Jan 31, 2023.

  1. NewChallenger

    NewChallenger New Member Full Member

    Oct 17, 2020
    Ali made it sound like the rope-a-dope was the plan, in the first round he goes out to beat George's ass and the 2nd round things change. I'm just wondering if there is confirmation on if the rope-a-dope was the plan or on the fly
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  2. Greg Price99

    Greg Price99 Well-Known Member Full Member

    Dec 17, 2018
    My guess is it was on the fly. I think Ali had planned to "dance" and outbox Foreman. I think he realised that his 32-year old legs couldn't manage that for 15-rounds in that heat and so he improvised, and improvised quite brilliantly.
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  3. William Walker

    William Walker Boxing Junkie Full Member

    Apr 9, 2020
    But could it have been his backup plan if he couldn't stay mobile. Surely he would have known he'd have to test the heat first.
  4. Greg Price99

    Greg Price99 Well-Known Member Full Member

    Dec 17, 2018
    Quite possibly. Your guess is as good as mine. If I recall correctly Ali did allude to a "secret plan" post fight. If I had to guess, I'd say that was mind games and/or to hype the fight, and rope a dope was improvisation on the night out of necessity. Just my guess though, I could be wrong.
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  5. ThatOne

    ThatOne Boxing Addict Full Member

    Jan 13, 2022
    Ali wanted a 20 foot ring. George wanted a 18 foot ring. After they settled on a nineteen foot ring they ended up with a sixteen foot ring. There was nowhere to move.
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  6. boxingisthebestsport

    boxingisthebestsport New Member Full Member

    Apr 24, 2022
    I don't think Ali came up with it on the fly. I just don't think he would have been that reckless to not come in with a back up plan for if dancing around Foreman would fail. By now he knew that he was getting older and he knew he couldn't fight like how he could when he was younger. He also had that fire to gain the title reinstated back into him, something that made him care about this fight and recent fights more. He wasn't dumb and would know he wouldn't be able to beat the monster that was George Foreman by dancing around him all night, something Ali simply could not remotely do at this point even though he was in great condition for the fight.

    I imagine the reason he fought differently in the first round is because he wanted to use it as a feeling out process. Gauge how the ring felt, Foreman's power, etc. Perhaps he did come into it thinking about dancing and only went to the rope-a-dope as a backup plan as previously mentioned, but I HIGHLY doubt it was on the fly.
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  7. Shay Sonya

    Shay Sonya Active Member Full Member

    Aug 15, 2021
    My opinion, for whatever it is worth, is that it may or may not have been Angelo Dundee's plan, but it was Muhammad Ali's plan, right from the beginning, and he executed it perfectly. In the first round, Muhammad set the scene, by treating George like an Amateur, with the right hand leads, designed to enrage George, and it worked. Then came the pre-planned Rope-a-Dope.
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  8. ThatOne

    ThatOne Boxing Addict Full Member

    Jan 13, 2022
    If it was Angie's plan he played his part perfectly by hollering "get off the ropes".
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  9. Bokaj

    Bokaj Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    Jan 4, 2008
    He and Dundee were always clear on that it was on the fly. The plan from the beginning was to move.

    Ali had trained that way of fighting for many years, though, at least since the first Liston fight. So it was something he had had in his back pocket for a long time.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2023
  10. Bokaj

    Bokaj Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    Jan 4, 2008
    Yeah, it wasn't Dundee's plan. He was always very clear that he was petrified when Ali all of a sudden moved to the ropes.
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  11. swagdelfadeel

    swagdelfadeel Boxing Junkie Full Member

    Jul 30, 2014
    You can see him attempt it, in his first fight with Frazier
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  12. Entaowed

    Entaowed Boxing Addict Full Member

    Dec 16, 2012
    I am surprised that although most used logic well to get to the correct answer, nobody cited the clear & convincing evidence from "When we Were Kings".
    Dundee never liked it, but not only did Ali use the rope strategy in past fights...
    Famous sporswriter George Plympton spoke in the film about Ali USING-& you would hvae to call it practicing or polishing- the rope-a-dope strategy in training for Foreman!

    He described it as if Ali looked like "a man from a lower floor looking up out of a window trying to see something on a higher floor".
    Ali saw early that given the tiny ring, how soft it was, that George was faster than he thought, & the one thing he did well then (besides his huge natural power) was cut off the ring...He would take several steps to less of Foreman's to execute his usual defense & dancing, & (like almost anyone) would become exhausted first...
    Y'all know what he did, legally & illegally re: hanging & pulling Foreman's head down with all his weight, to tire him out first.
    So it absolutely was a back up plan.

    Other than others who saw the movie affirming this, I believe this is Truly a time when someone can fairly call "thread". :drive:
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2023
  13. greynotsoold

    greynotsoold Boxing Addict Full Member

    Aug 17, 2011
    There is nothing that would convince me that it wasn't the plan from the beginning.
    Neither Ali nor Dundee were foolish men; only a fool would believe that a 32 year old Ali could move and box for 15 against Foreman. He couldn't do it against Frazier, why would he be able to do it 3 years later? Also, Ali had seen Foreman fight. He knew that he was an inexperienced guy, carefully matched to make him look like a destroyer and to hide the fact that he was a big strong guy that liked to swing his arms really hard but didn't know how to fight.
    So Ali proceeded to teach him.
    They argued for a big ring to make Big George think that he meant to move, and he gave him some movement early on. Now, you know that they were telling George that he needed to put Ali on the ropes to win that fight and Ali let him do it. He let George fight his fight and beat him at it.
    There is no way on this earth that Ali and Dundee went into that fight thinking that Ali was going to move all night. He knew after Frazier that he didn't have the legs to do it.
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  14. Pugguy

    Pugguy Boxing Addict Full Member

    Aug 22, 2021
    Laying on the ropes/playing the rope a dope was always a “contingent” strategy that Ali practiced even going all the way back to 1965 when training for the Liston rematch -

    Ali may well have planned to move vs Foreman, but changed his mind given the heat, 32 yo legs, soft canvas, and the small ring - and Foreman was adept at cutting off the ring anyway and hard to dance around given his size.

    Ali’s team, including Dundee, appeared genuinely surprised and horrified by Ali’s election to go to the ropes.

    One thing though, Ali came in at “dancing” weight for the Norton and Frazier rematches - 212 lbs a piece. But for Foreman, Ali was a heavier but superbly conditioned 216 1/2 lbs - which could imply that he wasn’t looking to move constantly.

    And while the rope a rope was def. a “thing” Ali employed during the fight - the extent of its use or stand alone use is exaggerated imo - with Ali often interspersing his time on the ropes with laser fast, hard shots in return. Ali was copping it to his insanely resilient body but it was George who was taking the more lethal shots (effectively) to the head.
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  15. Thread Stealer

    Thread Stealer Obsessed with Boxing Full Member

    Jun 30, 2005
    It was probably a backup plan. I remember one of his sparring partners saying afterwards that Ali would spend quite a bit of time on the ropes.

    Ali saw Foreman’s ring cutting ability and other factors and decided to go to the ropes at the beginning of the 2nd round.

    it wasn’t as if Ali started winning only when Foreman tired. He outfought Foreman off the ropes from the 2nd round on.
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