Ali v Shavers - Angelo Dundee’s cunning helps The Greatest Scrape home

15.02.06 - By James Slater: Some people may hold other corner-men in higher esteem than Angelo Dundee, but to me he is the best ever. Some also claim his legendary status is down to him being simply lucky. Lucky enough to have had naturally gifted boxers such as Muhammad Ali and Ray Leonard to work with. Men who would have been just as great without him. I disagree, and believe that without Angelo things would’ve been vastly different for both, especially Ali. Both men owe him a huge debt for the manner in which he provided career changing assistance while doing his stuff in the corner. And indeed, both readily acknowledge this.

Who would dispute the contention that Leonard may well have lost the first fight with Tommy Hearns without the impassioned words from Angelo of- “You’re blowing it now son, you’re blowing it”? The power of such a motivational speech cannot be underestimated. And as for Ali, Angelo came invaluably to his aid on a number of occasions. In fact, the legend of The Greatest wouldn’t, in all likelihood, have even been born if it weren’t for Dundee. Surely every boxing fan knows of the story regarding the first Liston fight? The young Cassius Clay, as he was then known, was all set to pull out of the fight at the end of the fourth round due to problems with his vision..

Clay shouted at Angelo to take his gloves off so he could prove to the world there was “dirty work afoot”. Only thanks to Dundee’s cool and experience did the fight not end with Liston the victor. Sonny may well have had something illegal on his gloves, but the fact is that if Clay had quit there would never have been a rematch and an all too receptive public would have believed the champ’s accusations of Clay being a coward. Sonny was no fool, in reality he would never have gone near this fast, sharp punching boxer again, for fear of certain defeat. Just imagine what this would have meant. The Muhammad Ali that we all revere so much today would not have existed. To borrow a line from Howard Cosell - it’s hard for me to conjure with that. Thanks to the quick reactions of his brilliant corner man, who practically shoved Clay out for round five, the Ali legend was allowed to blossom.

No, for me there is no doubt, Angelo is boxing’s finest ever corner-man and his legendary status is more than justified. My favourite example of his brilliance however, is from the night Ali fought Earnie Shavers. This fight took place in September 1977 and by this time Ali was a ring-worn thirty five year old who had been in many gruelling ring battles. He would need any extra help he could get to prevail against the murderous punching Shavers. Thanks once again to Angelo he got some.

Due to a new experiment, the scorecards of the judges would be shown to the folks back home watching on T.V. They would actually be able to see how the rounds were being scored as they went by. This wasn’t something the astute Dundee failed to capitalise on. He arranged for someone he could trust to be in attendance at the fight and watch the T.V coverage on a small portable T.V. This guy would then see exactly what the fans at home saw, namely the scores of all three judges after every round. He would then signal to Angelo whether or not Ali won the round or if it was scored evenly. Dundee could then tell Ali how to approach each coming round. Picture the scene; Angelo leans over Ali and either whispers “Ok champ you can take it easy this round, you won the last one”. Or; “Suck it up Champ they gave the last round to Earnie”. What a massive advantage! There is no doubt in my mind that this helped Ali win the fight. I’m sure you’re aware the final points totals were mighty close. If Earnie Shavers had someone as quick witted in his corner as
Ali had in his then just maybe he would have been the heavyweight champion.

I’m not for one minute suggesting that Dundee and Dundee alone won this victory, Ali showed amazing courage once more and really dug deep at times, but having such a ring-wise man in his corner was definitely a factor. I think this example of Angelo’s ability at finding an edge for his fighter is a quite unique and impressive one.

To my mind this example, along with many others I could mention, proves just how great a corner- man Angelo Dundee was, and still is. He was not only the best man for the job that Ali could have ever been blessed with; he was probably the best man for the job that ANY boxer could have ever been blessed with.

Angelo, I salute you.

Article posted on 15.02.2006

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