Muhammad Ali: Boxers Who Fought 'The Greatest'

PHOTO:Muhammad Ali, left, and Joe Frazier in the 12 round non-title fight that took place at Madison Square Garden in New York, Jan. 28, 1974. PlayAP Photo
WATCH Legendary Boxer Muhammad Ali Has Died at Age 74

One of the greatest fighters in the history of boxing, Muhammad Ali retired in 1981 after losing to Trevor Berbick in his 61st career bout. Here's a look some of the boxers Ali fought throughout his career.

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Sonny Liston

PHOTO: World Heavyweight boxing title bout between champ Sonny Liston, left, and challenger Cassius Clay, aka Muhammad Ali.Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
World Heavyweight boxing title bout between champ Sonny Liston, left, and challenger Cassius Clay, aka Muhammad Ali.

The brash, underdog, Ali promised boxing fans he'd "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" against Sonny Liston. At age 22, he stunned the larger Liston, beating the champ in seven rounds in Miami to win his first heavyweight title. In their next match in 1965, Ali floored Liston with a hard, quick blow minutes into the bout and retained his crown when the referee stopped the fight.

Joe Frazier

Say the name Joe Frazier and the next thought in the minds of most is Ali. The connection is inevitable, and with Frazier gone, it may just be eternal. Frazier died on Nov. 7, 2011 after a fight with liver cancer.

For all of Frazier's successes, the Olympic gold medalist and former heavyweight champion, will likely forever be defined by his relationship with Ali. The two were the greatest heavyweights of their era, and two of the greatest of all time. They fought three times, and two — the so-called "Fight of the Century" at Madison Square Garden in 1971 and "The Thrilla in Manilla" in 1974 — are landmarks in the history of the sport.

George Foreman

PHOTO: Heavyweight champions, Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay, left, and George Foreman in the ring in Kinshasa, Oct. 30, 1974.AFP/Getty Images
Heavyweight champions, Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay, left, and George Foreman in the ring in Kinshasa, Oct. 30, 1974.

Following the unanimous 12-round decision in 1974 in the Frazier fight, Ali was set to go head to head against George Foreman in Zaire (now Congo) 10 months later. Ali won the "Rumble in the Jungle," knocking out Foreman in the eighth round and reclaiming the world heavyweight title. The bout was chronicled in the 1996 documentary "When We Were Kings."

Leon Spinks

On Feb. 15, 1978, Ali lost his heavyweight title to Leon Spinks, but beat Spinks seven months later to reclaim the crown. He finished his career in 1981 with a record of 56 wins (including 37 by knockout) and five losses.

Earnie Shavers

Boxer Earnie Shavers, nicknamed the "Acorn" fought Ali on Sept. 29, 1977 at Madison Square Garden. Shavers lost to Ali by unanimous decision.

"I had mixed feelings [before the fight]. I didn't want to beat Ali - he was a great guy - but I was fighting for the championship. I had to give my best," Shavers told the BBC in January 2012. "I thought he was faking it [in the second round], trying to suck me in, but he was hurt. If I'd have gone in I might have stopped him."

Ernie Terrell

Ernie Terrell and Ali fought in what was dubbed the "What's My Name Fight?" in 1967. The bout received that name after Terrell refused to call Ali by his new name. Ali was born Cassius Clay.

"If I was going to fight him, then I would call him Clay. If he don't like it, so? I did it on purpose. We were fighting. What was I supposed to do, give him Christmas gifts?" Terrell said of the fight in an interview with USA Today in 2009.

Terrell lost the fight to Ali.

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