88 year old Bob Arum, still going strong today, has seen it all; he’s promoted it all. Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, “The Four Kings,” Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran and currently, Tyson Fury. And Arum says he cannot see Ali “competing with a 6ft 9in guy like Fury.”
As great as Ali was, in his 1964 to 1967 prime especially, when Ali was at his fastest, Arum feels the sheer size of today’s big men would be too much for the 6’3” Ali to be able to deal with. And as Arum pointed out when speaking with Sky Sports, Fury is very fast for his size and weight.
“How would Ali have done with Fury? That’s a question I wrestle with,” Arum told Sky Sports. “The Ali before the three and a half years out was absolutely superb. Nobody could touch him, he was so fast. Ali was 6ft 3in and the guys he fought were about the same size. How would he do against a 6ft 9in guy who is an incredible boxer with great footwork? I can’t see Ali competing with a 6ft 9in guy like Fury. We had big guys in the old days but they were slow, lumbering. They were jokes who couldn’t fight, they were just big. It’s all changing. Look at Fury, Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder. They are huge guys. But maybe if Ali was in this era he would be 6ft 6in instead of 6ft 3in because of the nutrition. Everything has changed.”
Ali would likely have been a little bigger had he been at his peak today, having been born in 1992 not 1942. But what wouldn’t have changed is Ali’s superb, masterful boxing brain. Ali would have found a way, against Fury, Joshua and Wilder. This is the opinion of those fans who simply cannot agree how “The Greatest” would have been beaten by any of today’s heavyweights. Even if he was giving away some inches in both height and reach, Ali, with his speed, his determination, his physical and mental strength and that incomparable boxing brain, would have beaten a guy who was decked heavily by a 6’3” cruiserweight in Steve Cunningham (admittedly, Fury had yet to reach his peak at the time of this fight).
Angelo Dundee once explained to me how Ali, who he always refered to as “my guy,” would have beaten the giant Klitschko brothers (“He would have stopped both of them,” Dundee told me on the subject of Ali against the Klitschkos. “See, Ali looked great against big guys – Cleveland Williams I’ll give you as an example. Another guy, most people haven’t seen the fight, a guy named Duke Sabedong from early in Muhammad’s career. He was like 6’6.” Ali’s speed would have overcome both Klitschko brothers.”)
And if Angie were still here today, he would explain to us, educate us on how Ali would have beaten Fury, Joshua, Wilder and all the rest, too. Ali was able to overcome so much during his great career, and he would have been able to overcome a size disadvantage if he had to. Even if the big guy he was fighting had some speed and movement. Nobody moved like Ali. Nobody.