Muhammad Ali vs. Lennox Lewis. Undeniably two of the greatest careers in heavyweight history. I asked Hall of Famer Angelo Dundee ( couple of years before his passing RIP) about a hypothetical Muhammad Ali vs. Lennox Lewis Dream Match. Here is what he had to say:
Scoop Malinowski: When do you believe Ali was at his very best?
Angelo Dundee: “When he knocked out Folley (KO 7 in March of 1967 at age 25). He looked like a million bucks. (Why?) Because he was maturing. In other words, he was so special there. He negated him, and Zora Folley was a heckuva fighter. Great counter puncher. And he couldn’t counter my kid. But see, the best days we didn’t see him (Ali was in exile from 1967-70).”
Scoop Malinowski: When do you believe Lennox Lewis was at his best?
Angelo Dundee: “Let’s see…who’d he win the title from? (Rematches with Rahman and McCall) Yeah. It’s tough to compare anybody with my kid.”
Scoop Malinowski: What strategy would you have suggested for Ali against Lewis?
Angelo Dundee: “Speed. Lewis wouldn’t be able to catch him. I mean, he wouldn’t be able to grab him. Lewis was very effective in close. And my guys didn’t mess around with guys in close. It was from the outside. I think my guy would bury him with jabs. The weight with Lewis wouldn’t be a problem with Muhammad because he wouldn’t be in there getting laid on. He’d be boxing, moving, giving him angles. I don’t think Lewis would be able to follow him around.”
Scoop Malinowski: Lewis had Ali by two inches and thirty pounds. Some experts think Lewis would be in control of the fight and Ali would have been the one who had to take the risks…
Angelo Dundee: “I’m gonna give you a real good thing now. Lewis’ height wouldn’t be a problem because he spreads. My guy stands tall. So Lewis wouldn’t have any kind of height on my guy. It would be nose to nose.”
Scoop Malinowski: But maybe Lewis’ jab would have kept Ali at range. And maybe Ali would have had to take the risks offensively to get close…
Angelo Dundee: “If Muhammad could control the Liston jab – it was the most devastating jab in boxing – he could control Lewis’s jab. If Lewis would land it, my guy would surround the jab like he did with Liston.”
Scoop Malinowski: How do you see a mythical Ali-Lewis fight turning out?
Angelo Dundee: “My guy would lick him. Muhammad would beat him. Outspeed him, keep him turnin’, Lewis would have tremendous respect for my kid.”
Scoop Malinowski: “Do you think Ali was unbeatable at that time?
Angelo Dundee: “Definitely. First big man that could move. Nobody could move like he could move. Changed the whole concept of boxing.”
Scoop Malinowski: How about the fact he never through punches to the body, would that be a factor?
Angelo Dundee: “[Laughs] You know, here’s [laughs]…his theory was: Kill the head and the body will die. It was in reverse.”
Scoop Malinowski: Did Ali ever go to the body?
Angelo Dundee: “Yeah, he belly jabbed.”
Scoop Malinowski: That’s it?
Dundee: “He didn’t throw no body punches. I’ll give you another cute story on him. Guys are always belaboring me about keeping his hands up, keep his hands up. Doug Jones fight (’63), he comes back to the corner, I said, Keep your hands up. He went out there and got the hell kicked out of him. So I said, keep your hands down [laughter]. That was our rapport with each other. Let me tell you, the big key, like with you laughing, that was the whole key with this kid. We always had fun. No matter how tough the situation was, we had fun. He always found a way to laugh.”