Muhammad Ali was in a class by himself. It should be said that if he never had a layoff he would have beaten each and every fighter he faced in his career. Of course time can't be rewritten, and I can't go back in time and tell Muhammad not to fight against Holmes or Berbick. I also can't say exactly what would happen. Ken Norton would always give Ali a problem, that is just the way it was. Would Frazier have beaten him? Probably not, but it happened that way and that's the way it deserves to go down in the history books.
Ali was the best ring technician in the history of boxing save maybe Ray Robinson. What he did to heavyweights was never seen before then and was only followed well by one fighter(Larry Holmes) who still didn't do it as well. Ali's jab was a jackhammer and he could throw every punch in the book and do everything that could be done in a boxing ring. Ali fought many contenders on his way to his first title shot. He had some trouble with Doug Jones and was hurt against Henry Cooper in his 19th fight, but proved he could get out of trouble. Some of the names in Ali's early career ledger would surely get more mention but this web site is more about the late 60's and 70's so Archie Moore, Sonny Liston and Floyd Patterson won't get their due here. Regardless Ali beat all of these fighters as well as tough fighters like Cleveland Williams and Zora Folley, who actually did quite well against the champ. I will talk more about the comeback fights starting in 1970. His first fight back was Jerry Quarry, at this time Quarry was a top 5 heavyweight and this fight was thought to be an even proposition. For more on this interesting fight click on the link for Jerry Quarry to the right. After dispatching Quarry, Ali took on Oscar Bonavena a durable top ten fighter that had given Joe Frazier problems and was as strong as an ox. Ali beat him in a tough and interesting fight. The Fight of the Century was next and this fight was surely not for the weak hearted. Two undefeated living legends going at it. An analysis of this fight is to the right as well. After a tough first loss, Ali took on former champ Jimmy Ellis and beat him over 12 rounds getting the knockout late. With this win Ali took the NABF crown which was one huge step below the World Championship. Seven more impressive wins including wins over Mac Foster,George Chuvalo and another win over Jerry Quarry and Floyd Patterson left Ali at 41-1 and ready to face a young gun by the name of Ken Norton. The first of three epic struggles went against Ali , who avenged his loss in the second fight held just 6 months later. This win and another win this time against his other conqueror Joe Frazier put Ali back in line for a title shot. George Foreman the indestructible champion who just came off destroying the same Ken Norton that Ali had so much trouble with was waiting. Ali used everything in his bag of tricks and came back to America as the World Champ. After this Ali went on to make 10 successful defenses of his world title belt. He beat Ron Lyle,Jimmy Young and Earnie Shavers during this streak. He also avenged his two losses again by beating Frazier in the epic Thrilla in Manilla and winning a VERY questionable decision against Norton in 1976. More on these fights are available by clicking the links to the right. After this Ali was on the decline he lost to the very mortal Leon Spinks, then took the title back from him later in 1978. Ali retired and tragically decided to come back to the ring again against Larry Holmes in 1980. Ali was done by this time and further proved it by losing the next year to Trevor Berbick. Holmes vs Ali would have great at a different time in Ali's life and the outcome would have been different too I would suspect.