Even Ali, who had previously astounded the world, was powerless against the ravages of time and aging. Deterioration had been evident for a long time. After his near-death incident in Manila in 1975, retirement ought to have occurred. The next fight I saw was perhaps the most vicious and terrible I had ever witnessed. It was with Joe Frazier. Both should have given up right away because neither boxer was the same again in many aspects. Most fighters certainly know when their time is up, but very few will confess it.
Ali always want more, but he was deteriorating before our very eyes. You could see his decline outside of the ring in addition to as the extraordinary athlete he once was.
Previously blurry punches become slow and deliberate. Previously venomous and humorous words were now spoken slowly and softly. He had unavoidably lost much more from a sport that had given him so much.
In 1978, after defeating Leon Spinks, Ali announced his retirement. But the separation was only momentary. An aging hired hand was the current world heavyweight champion in 1980, according to the WBC. More history was aimed at Larry Holmes, who was in his physical prime and had won all 35 of his fights. A few additional millions undoubtedly increased the urge to go back given the finances’ rumored decline.
The historic win over Leon Spinks in 1978 saw Ali finally retire. But it was a temporary parting of the ways. In 1980 an old hired hand was now the WBC heavyweight champion of the world. Larry Holmes unbeaten in 35 fights and in his physical prime was the target for more history. With reported dwindling finances, a few more millions no doubt added to the temptation to return.
Ali lost the extra weight he had gained during his retirement; from 256 pounds to 217 pounds, he was the smallest he had been since Zaire. The gray was concealed, and when he looked in the mirror, he saw his youth and ignored the internal suffering. No amount of flimsy covering could conceal the unpleasant reality. Ali made an attempt to trick us into thinking he had a chance of winning. He was actually dangerously fooling himself.
Abuse of thyroid medication prescribed for a suspected ailment limited Ali’s search for further history. During the last several weeks of training, Ali was displaying severe signs of weariness and sluggishness. A combatant who was already aging rapidly aged even more quickly. Pre-fight medicals made many points that were highlighted, but because it would cost the filthy money, they were mostly avoided.
The spectacle was horrifying and disturbing, perhaps even more so now. a former champion fighter who is now used as a punching bag. Although Joe Louis’ defeat by Rocky Marciano in 1951 was disappointing, this was much worse.
For the rest of his life, none of Holmes’ blows ever left his body. Ali’s chances of living a healthy, normal life were almost probably over in that ring. A fight that shouldn’t have happened shouldn’t have needed to happen. Holmes was merciful to some extent—certainly more so than others who permitted Ali to refight. Too many individuals disregarded their duty of care.
After 10 agonizing one-sided rounds, the slaughter—and make no mistake, that is exactly what it was—came to an end. It should never have started, and it was stopped too late. Ali required defense against himself. A dated artifact was brought out and given a thorough public flogging.
After the battle, Holmes claimed that while he did what he had to, it shouldn’t have been necessary for him to do so.
That ought to have been sufficient, but we were subjected to more of the same. Trevor Berbick defeated Ali over 10 rounds in a ridiculous life-sucking spectacle in the Bahamas in 1981 when Ali made one final comeback. At age 39, Ali finally decided to end his illustrious career. That choice was premature in a lot of respects.
Everyone responsible for this entire regrettable incident should hang their heads in shame. Everything that is wrong with boxing is openly shown for all to see. There is no need for commentary on the battle; the images we witnessed in the ring spoke for themselves. It was murder disguised as sport. But everyone recognized it for what it was.
Sylvester Stallone compared it like seeing an autopsy on a deceased person.