Former three-time heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali deserves his moniker as "The Greatest."
Ali (56-5, 37 KOs), who captured a gold medal for the USA as a light heavyweight at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, possessed vast skills and natural physical gifts, and he was the preeminent pugilist to ever grace the squared circle.
Ali's record is badly distorted because he was never defeated during his genuine prime and he lost three of the final four bouts of his career when he was more spent than a 60-year-old prostitute.
One month after Ali trashed Zora Folley (79-11-6, 43 KOs) by a seventh-round knockout in 1967 to improve his unblemished mark to 28-0, he was unjustly stripped of his titles because he refused induction into the United States military based on his religious beliefs and opposition of the Vietnam War.
In response to Ali's protest, he was found guilty on draft evasion charges and barred from boxing until he was finally reinstated to scrap in 1970.
His comeback contest in 1970 was intentionally designed to be versus a formidable white opponent, Jerry Quarry, in the notoriously racist, Deep South city of Atlanta, Georgia.
Ali lambasted Quarry (53-9-4, 32 KOs) and easily triumphed over the likable Caucasian by a third-round TKO.
Unfortunately, despite his impressive showing in Hotlanta, Ali had been robbed of three of his peak boxing years and was never again as dominant as he was prior to his banishment.
Granted, Ali famously prevailed over George Foreman in the "Rumble in the Jungle" in 1974 and Joe Frazier in the "Thrilla in Manila" in 1975.
Nevertheless, it is indisputable that Ali's skills were somewhat eroded during his exile from the ring.
Ali finally, and mercifully, retired after he was beaten by Trevor Berbick in the Bahamas in December 1981.
Shortly after Ali hung up the gloves, Larry Holmes initiated his reign as heavyweight king.
Holmes was a very capable and sound boxer and his legacy is one of justified greatness.
Still, Holmes had a rather mundane personality and was sandwiched between two iconic figures, Ali and the dynamic "Iron" Mike Tyson.
Before Tyson (50-6-0-2, 44 KOs) became a cannibalistic, convicted rapist, he was an overwhelming fighter who could have beaten any man on a given evening.
Tyson was flatly intimidating and was blessed with blinding hand speed, accuracy, coordination, power, and timing.
"Mike Tyson, with his black boots and shorts, was a menacing, scary man," said Brad Sherwood, 30, a resident of South Boston who works as a trainer at Gold's Gym in Medford.
Furthermore, he perfectly employed the Peek-a-Boo style taught to him by Cus D'Amato and that enabled him to become a true defensive wizard.
Tyson reached the apex of his career in June 1988 when he annihilated Michael Spinks in 91 seconds in Atlantic City to advance his mark to a sterling 35-0.
Ironically, like Ali, Tyson's "record is badly distorted because he was never defeated during his genuine prime and he lost three of the final four bouts of his career when he was more spent than a 60-year-old prostitute."
In the primes of their respective careers, a match pitting a 1988 Tyson against a 1967 Ali would have been extraordinarily alluring.
Tyson and Ali had remarkably contrasting boxing styles.
Tyson was a bulldog who savagely barreled straight ahead with vicious intentions while Ali flustered and battered his adversaries with his blinding quickness and underrated power.
If Ali fought Tyson ten times, "The Greatest" would have emerged victorious on approximately nine of those occasions.
In seven of those nine wins, Ali would have knocked Tyson onto Queer Street for the entire count.
Expect Ali to have also beaten Tyson once by unanimous decision and once via disqualification.
Ali's relentless jabs and flurries would undoubtedly have flustered Tyson to the point that "Iron Mike" got himself terminated from action.
Regardless of Ali's mastery over Tyson, in one prizefight, "Iron Mike" would have connected a devastating punch that surely would have rendered Ali unconscious.
Hence, Ali would have suffered the only knockout loss of his career were he pitted against a vintage Tyson.
Tyson is now sadly viewed as something of a bearded woman with ownership of a fleet of pigeons.
However, in his heyday, Tyson was categorically a great pugilist and warrants such respect.
Conversely, Ali was more than great.
Muhammad Ali was simply "The Greatest."
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