The reign of the Greatest ended once and for all last night, as Larry Holmes successfully defended his WBC heavyweight title with a 11th round technical knockout over threetime champion Muhammad Ali.
Holmes dominated every round as Ali seemed unwilling, or unable, to throw any punches. The fight started with both men in the center of the ring, Holmes jabbing away, and Ali, gloves held high, fighting a Floyd Patterson "peek-a-boo" defense.
Holmes scored often throughout the early going and Ali seemed content to wiggle his hips and smile at the crowd. Ali threw one punch in the first round--a left jab that missed.
The second round began much the same as the first with Holmes methodically attending to his business and Ali satisfied with simply skirting the champion's blows. Midway though the round, Drew Brown Bundini, Ali's spiritual mentor, began to shout, "You got to get off on him, champ."
The advice went unheeded as the round closed with Holmes swinging away and connecting on most of his punches.
At the beginning of the third round, Ali waved to the crowd, which responded with an extended version of the familiar chant, 'Ali, Ali, Ali."
It was in this round that Holmes began to throw an overhand right, the same type which Kenny Norton employed so effectively in this three fights against the former champ. Holmes hammered away repeatedly, and though he never stunned Ali, he continued to pile up points.
In the fourth round, Holmes charged to the center of the ring, and let loose a flurry of punches, most of which Ali blocked with his gloves and arms. A solid Ali jab brought the crowd to its feet, as the former champ began to move on his toes and throw more punches. It was one of the few times the bout looked like a fight.
With 30 seconds to go in the fourth round, Ali backed into his corner and held onto the upper rope strand with his right hand. As Holmes closed in, Ali threw a triple hook, all three of which landed.
Holmes retreated and wiggled his hips, in a show of contempt for Ali's punching power.
The next two rounds followed the same pattern, with Holmes throwing and Ali absorbing the brunt of the blows. The seventh round was Ali's best of the fight, and even then he could only manage to stay even with the defending champ. Both men circled each other in ring center, with neither man able to gain an advantage, though Holmes' punches were obviously stiffer.
The eighth and ninth rounds, in which each man had predicted victory, resembled the first seven, with Holmes continuing to throw combinations. Ali seemed happy simply not to be knocked out.
Between the ninth and tenth rounds, Ali's eyes became puffy, and the right eye especially appeared to have absorbed many of Holmes' jabs.
In the tenth round Holmes went to work, landing heavy combinations to Ali's body and head. The champion never staggered Ali, but Ali did nothing to discourage the onslaught of blows.
At this point Bundini's voice rang out again as he cried, "Do something, champ, do something."
But, Ali refused, and his trainer Angelo Dundee responded by calling a halt to the proceedings between the tenth and eleventh rounds, marking an end to the career of Muhammad Ali.