*** FLASHBACK – this article originally appeared on dmboxing.com on September
This is the second of a six part series of my personal accounts of Muhammad Ali. In Memory of Ali, I will display these articles and will also include photos of my collectibles now through this month of July for viewing.
By David Martinez / Boxing Historian / dmboxing.com
In the second installment of my six in a series, I will answer a question that is most often asked of me, with regards to Muhammad Ali. That question is which – when was Ali at the height of his career?
First of all, I must say that it has been a blessing to witness the greatest heavyweight champion of this era fight throughout his career (1960- 1981). In my opinion, Ali was at his pinnacle from a stretch after the 1st Floyd Patterson ( November 1965) to his final defense against Zora Folley (March 1967) before he was stripped of the heavyweight title.
During those years he defeated, in order: defeated Floyd Patterson, George Chuvalo, Henry Cooper, Brian London, Karl Mildenberger, Cleveland Williams, Ernie Terrell and Zora Folley with the Williams fight being his finest performance.
Boxing fans will never know just how great Ali could have been, considering he spent three and a half years, while still in his prime, in exile from the sport (April 1967-September 1970). I would be one to speculate that those would have been his best years as a professional. Later in his career came the Frazier, Norton, Foreman, Lyle, Bugner, Shavers, Spinks fights. Ali, despite being past his prime, certainly made many of those encounters, as we say in boxing – “super fights!” Two of his three meetings with Joe Frazier were labeled as simply as: “Fight of the Century” (March 1971) and “Ali’s greatest fight ever” (September 1975).