On this Day: Howard Cosell expresses concerns about Muhammad Ali just before he stops Oscar Bonavena


Muhammad Ali

AFP via Getty Images

The rough and tough Oscar Bonavena drags Muhammad Ali into the trenches

Dec 7, 1970; Madison Square Garden, New York
IT still makes the mind boggle when you consider Muhammad Ali went from a three-year layoff into a fight with Jerry Quarry in October 1970 and followed that, six weeks later, with a scrap against Argentinian toughnut, Oscar Bonavena. At the pre-fight medical, Bonavena repeatedly called Ali “Clay” much to the 6-1 favourite’s annoyance. What followed was a gruelling bout and perhaps the first real sight of Ali Mark Two, a version not so fleet of foot as the original and one forced to fight in the trenches by his crude opponent. After a rough and tough contest, Ali became the only man to ever stop Bonavena, when he dropped him three times in the 15th and final round.

DID YOU KNOW? It was before this fight when Ken Buchanan, afer being asked by Angelo Dundee if they could share his dressing room, famously drew a line on the floor and demand that Ali stick to his side.

WATCH OUT FOR: With commentator Howard Cosell voicing his concerns that Ali was not the fighter of old, the former champion found the energy for a grandstand finish

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