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The Boxing Matches of the 20th Century:The Ali-Norton Bouts

Updated on December 31, 2017

The Beginning

Heavyweight professional boxing is the king of sports and arguably after bullfighting the only real macho sport. The last century threw up a number of great heavyweight boxers, some of who have gone on to become legends. One can count the names of Rocky Marciano, Joe Louis, Floyd Patterson, Joe Frazier and above all Muhammad Ali, who was earlier known as Cassius Clay and was born a Christian.

The general opinion is that Muhammad Ali was the greatest as he is the only boxer to have won the heavyweight crown three times.. He converted to Islam, for reasons unknown, but despite his conversion, he was the darling of the American masses. There is another boxer who is also "great" but this title is not applied to him and one can just say this is because of the inbuilt bias against a challenger to a world champion. The money riding on the shoulders of a champion like Ali ran into billions and no promoter could afford to upset the apple cart.

Ken Norton was a hard-working boxer, who some rate as a better boxer than Ali,. But at the end of the day Norton never got his due, but now after his death, people have realized that Norton was indeed a worthy opponent of Ali and deserves an entry into the greats of the boxing hall of fame, but sadly the powers that be never gave him due recognition during his lifetime.

The Beginning of the Epic Battles

Ali and Norton met only 3 times. This itself is a mystery as after the final defeat of Norton he was denied a crack at Ali again. Knowledgeable pundits of the sport now concede that all 3 fights could have been ruled in favor of Norton, but the final figure of 2-1 in favor of Ali is not the correct assessment of their title bouts.

The first match between Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton took place in 1973. It appears a long time now , but we know it was a bruising match that went the full 15 rounds.. It was a war of attrition and the best part was that Norton in a flurry of clinical hitting broke the Jaw of Ali. This was no mean feat as Ali was later to become heavyweight boxing champ of the world 3 times. , Norton stopped Ali and was declared the winner on points by a big margin.

Poster before the 3rd fight
Poster before the 3rd fight
Battling on
Battling on

Further 2 battles

Ali was smarting at his defeat at the hands of Norton and a re-match was arranged. The fight went the compete 15 rounds and Ali was declared the winner on points. Perhaps Ali had a slight edge in this fight, but Ken Norton acquitted himself in a worthy manner.

Ali and Norton met again for the 3rd and last time. This fight disheartened Norton greatly as to all observers Norton was the winner on points. Unfortunately teh referees scored the fight 8-7 in favor of Ali. In fact the crowd watching the match was stunned as to all it appeared that Norton would be declared the winner.

Why was Ali declared the winner? This question can be answered now. There was a lot of money riding on Ali's shoulders. Some estimate it to be to the tune of 2 billion dollars and the powers that be could not let Ali lose.So it was decided that Ali must win and he was declared the winner by one point.

ALi and Norton were never matched again. Ali was also lukewarm to facing Norton and boxed lesser opponents. Norton was thus denied another match with Ali. In case the two had met a third time the true worth of Norton would have emerged.

Carrier Figures Norton vs Ali

Boxing record- Norton vs Ali

Total fights 50 Total Fights 61

Wins 42 Wins 56

KO33 KO 37

Losses7 Losses 5

Draws1

The above gives a almost clear picture of the capabilities of the 2 boxers

Assessment

Norton died in 2013, leaving behind memories of his epic fights with Ali. LaterAli himself acknowledged that Norton was a tough opponent, but Norton always felt he was cheated out of a win.

One must remember that Ali was great because he was opposed in the ring by men of the calibre of Ken Norton and George Foreman. Ali would never have been great without matching with Ken Norton and George Foreman. Norton deserves his name to be bracketed with Ali in the Boxing hall of fame.

Norton is no more and Ali though only 73 is incapacitated. Yet these two set the boxing world afire with their matches in the later part of the 20th century.

Do you Feel that Norton was the winner in the 3rd match with Ali ?

See results

Comments

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    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      Madan 

      3 years ago from Abu Dhabi

      Thank you Mel, there is a mess all around.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      3 years ago from San Diego California

      I guess nothing has changed in boxing. I have soured on the sport because of the sometimes questionable scoring, but I always assumed that "back in the day" there was more integrity. I guess not. You are right, nobody remembers Norton, and it is a shame. Great hub.

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