Ali is one of the best fighters of all time. He faced every heavyweight possible in his era of boxing and beat most of them.
It was only when he started to fall into old age that his career started to decline.
At his peak, no one was better than Ali, and he proved it every time out. He left no questions as to who he should have faced, but what if he could have fought against boxers from other decades?
Since today is Ali's birthday, it is worth reminiscing and putting some matches together.
Here are fifteen fights that would be worth testing Ali's skills.
Ruddock was known for having a decent jab, but he was even better known for a punch that mixed a hook with an uppercut which was nicknamed "the Smash."
He never won the big fight, but like fighter Jerry Quarry, he was a gamey contender. Seeing him stalk and go after Ali would be interesting.
How Ali would impose his jab over Ruddock's would set the pace for the fight and dictate who could keep his range.
This is a fight that would be completely unappealing in the ring. Galento drank and smoked non-stop, and it effected his career.
The only reason that this fight would have been great is the pre-fight trash talk. Galento was famous for saying that he would "moida da bum" when asked about his fight with Joe Louis.
It didn't happen, but people remember that Galento stunned him.
More than anything they remember Galento's mouth.
There are those in boxing who feel that Marciano always was overblown because of his undefeated record. While that might be a bit harsh, it is true that he faced most of his impressive opposition at the end of his career.
After his fight with Archie Moore, he retired undefeated.
Still, there are plenty of fights in his time period he could have competed in. Without having done so, no one will ever know how great he really was.
If he faced off with Ali, those questions would be answered.
Riddick Bowe's worst opponent will always be the man in the mirror. He just never was able to beat the demons in his head as well as the men he stepped in the ring with.
He easily could have rivaled Ali's career if he had chosen to face his problems.
Bowe was a big man who had power but also had enough speed and technical skill that made him more than a one-trick pony.
The former Olympic silver medalist could have taken Ali to the limit and might have even beaten him if the two ever fought.
Just like Ali, he started fighting off at a lower weight. He was also a clever boxer as well who knew when to strike and when to move.
It's a good part of why he only had one loss.
Tunney was a brilliant ring technician and, like Ali, knew how to use his lack of power to his advantage. It's how he beat Jack Dempsey.
Watching two men who knew how to use their smarts to trick their opponents into losing would be a great technical clinic for diehard fans.
Many wanted David Tua to be a carbon copy of Mike Tyson.
He had the size and the power, but after a while he also showed the lack of dedication to training that had been mirrored in Tyson.
During his prime, and when he was in decent shape, Tua was a fearsome knockout puncher who could knock out his opponents in an instance.
Ali would have to keep him at a distance the entire fight and used every trick in the book to stop Tua from coming forward.
Lewis, at 6'5", was one of the bigger men to claim the heavyweight championship of the world. He also retired with the lineal championship, causing the current splintering of the titles that has yet to be mended.
He was able to avenge the only two losses he ever suffered and usually could use his reach in every fight to nullify his opponent's offense.
He was also smart enough to know when to retire.
Yet another fight that would be based more on the story that would surround it then the actual boxing. Braddock was known as the "Cinderella Man" because of his return from a plummeting career to win the heavyweight title.
While Ali might be beloved now, he was hated in his day, and there is a good chance fans would get to see him booed again as he was pitted against an American hero of the Great Depression.
If nothing else, it would sell out a stadium.
Evander Holyfield may not have been the biggest or the strongest, but he was one of the toughest.
He was able to outwork almost anyone he faced and force his willpower down their throats. It helped him beat fighters like Riddick Bowe and Mike Tyson.
Seeing him try to use it on Ali, who Joe Frazier couldn't break down, would be something to watch.
Dempsey was known for making his own move, called the "Dempsey Roll," in which he would weave in a circle building up momentum to knock his opponents out.
He knew how to box and learned from plenty of barroom brawls where he picked up the sport.
Watching him use his street-taught boxing against Ali's Olympic pugilism would make an interesting styles clash.
Ali wasn't the first man to stir up folks. Johnson was ahead of his time in how he felt about the societal norms and let people know it.
Both were intelligent men who proved they were the best in the world at what they did. Seeing the two motormouths square off in the ring would almost be as entertaining as watching them hype the fight before it.
He might not be the most exciting fighter in the ring today, but Wladimir Klitschko is one of the best.
if he squared off with Klitschko, Ali would have to figure out what few fighters have: how to beat the taller man.
It wouldn't be an easy feat, but Ali's fluidity might give the stiff Ukrainian champ troubles.
Vitali is the other half of the Klitschko brothers and part of the reason the heavyweight title hasn't been unified.
He is a little more relaxed in the ring then his brother, but because he stepped away for a while, he has accomplished less.
A fight between him and Ali would be a little more interesting then one with his younger brother and just as telling.
The fight would almost be secondary to the marketing of it. It would be the biggest boxing match of all time.
Both men are the biggest names to ever come from the sport and both transcended it. Watching the two box would be more of a historical event then anything else.
Could it be anyone else?
Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali have been argued over by many boxing pundits for years. They both have a claim to being the best heavyweight of all time. Both changed the world in different ways with Louis against Nazi Germany and Ali against the Vietnam War.
If the two icons from different times and cultures—who also were the two best heavyweights in the history of the sport—stepped into the same ring, it would make the winner the greatest boxer to ever live.
Matthew Hemphill writes for the boxing, MMA, and professional wrestling portion of Bleacher Report. He also hosts a blog elbaexiled.blogspot.com which focuses on books, music, comic books, video games, film, and generally anything that could be related to the realms of nerdom.