THREE of Muhammad Ali’s British opponents remember when they came up against «the greatest».
The fighters spoke to our sister title Boxing News, who have released The Greatest, a 168-page tribute to Ali which includes exclusive interviews with many of his opponents. Get it here now.
1. Henry Cooper — stopped round 5, 1963, Wembley
«There wasn’t another like him,” said Cooper of their first fight. “He had fast hands and he was fast on his bleeding feet.
“I knew that if I’d have hit him with that left hook that I hit him with 15 seconds earlier, and he’d have been in the middle of the ring, he’d have gone down heavy.
«Unfortunately, the ropes let him down gently; he went from the top rope to the middle rope to the bottom. That’s just how it goes.”
Muhammad Ali and Henry Cooper (left), at the Henry Cooper Gym, November 21, 1993. Picture: Action Images
2. Brian London — KOd round 3, 1966, Earl’s Court
“He was far too good for me,” said London. «When they offered me the money to fight him I just said ‘Yes’ and I thought that I’d go for it, but I had no chance.
«My problem was I never really fought for the love of it; I fought for the money.»
Muhammad Ali with Brian London (right)
3. Richard Dunn — stopped round 5, 1976, Olympiahalle, Munich
“It was all level after three rounds and I thought I was doing OK, but it quickly went downhill after that!» laughed Dunn.
«I’m a southpaw, so I think it took him a round or two to find his range. But once he did, he just took me apart. Despite that, I enjoyed it.
«He was classy, he was brilliant and I loved the man.”