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The first fighter who comes to mind is Jack Johnson, he was a gifted boxer with the physical tools to give anyone trouble. Jack had the mobility to give Ali a rough time and had about a good a chance of beating "the greatest" as anyone.
When you look at the guys who gave Ali trouble in his day, Frazier and Norton do not at first glance seem to hold the stature of the bigger guns of LIston and Forman. Both had power, but they also differed considerably in the area of offensive footwork. They could cut the ring off with the best of them, and had the speed and reflexive quickness to capatilize on brief openings. Fraziers left hook quite possibly was the best example of a left hook boxing ever produced and would have given anyone trouble. Mobility was the added edge Norton, Frazier and to a lesser extent a young Leon Spinks used in combination with pressure to give Ali the most trouble.
A modern fighter who appeared to have such traits with the skill level to give Ali a problem would have been Evander Holyfield. The two would have produced an epic battle if they could have met when both were in top form, and Holyfield had a style that would have given Ali fits.
Few, if any heavyweights in history could have matched Ali's Quickness and speed, but one that supassed even Ali's speed was Roy Jones Jr. I do not consider Roy a true heavyweight, but Jones at his peak was almost impossible to catch. Even Ali would have had his hands full, but it is unlikely Roy could have matched the agressiveness of say a Jimmy Young needed to beat Ali. I watched Jimmy Young win a decision against Ali only to be robbed by questonable scoring, but the combination of agressiveness and mobility was Young's M.O. as well, so Jimmy's performance against Ali serves as a template on how to beat Ali. Jones would have tested Ali as well if both could have fought and also had a shot at beating "the greatest".
I disagree completely with Sam H's assesment of the Klitschko brothers, they are both over rated and wouldn't have fared well against most of the greats Ali beat in his time, let alone given Ali a fight. They fight at the skill level of a Jerry Quarry or Henry Cooper, solid fighters with decent power, but lack the mobility to pose a serious theat to Ali.
Lewis didn't have the chin or the defensive ability to survive against Ali, as both McCall and Rockmon showed. Ali would have exploited this flaw much more effectivly than either Oliver or Haseem did with the same result.
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Both Klitschko brothers could beat Ali. Lennox Lewis could also. Pretty much all for the same reasons. All 3 fighters possess the power to punish and possible even eventually KO Ali. All have the height and reach to get in whenever they want. Lewis and Wladimir K, under Steward's training, fight too smart to fall into Ali's game or get KO'd by Ali. Wlad K has the most devestating jab I've ever seen any boxer throw in the history of boxing, and jabs are the easiest punches to throw and land. Ali was definetely one of, if not the, the smartest fighter in his era. But I would say these 3 are the smartest of this era and have eclipsed the original idea of fighting smart, something that Ali created.
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I honestly don't think anyone would beat him but I would probably give Lennox Lewis the best shot. He has the size, and the power to have a chance. Not to mention it would take a genius like Emanuel Stewart to take advantage of Ali's weaknesses and tendencies...Lennox would still get his *** beat though.
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mohamed ali is that smart in the ring and that good that i dont think anyone could have beat him but in boxing anything can hapen
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Ric, Frazier always gave Ali trouble. Marciano is a Frazier like fighter. I could see Marciano doing to Ali what Frazier did in the first fight and then Ali winning a next fight. I agree with the Jack Johnson comment. Johnson could match Ali in most things.
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The best who would have had a chance if he would have fought Ali in Ali's prime would have been Larry holmes.
I know that they did fight, but Ali was way past his prime.
This would have been a good fight probably the first of a trilology. Ali wins 2of 3.
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There is only one man that could have beaten Ali in his prime
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I know im in the minority but i recon Tyson could have beaten Ali. Tyson fought similarly to Fraiser but was alot better in my opinion, if Frasier could beat Ali surely Tyson would have a good chance. Also Ali seemed to fight better against taller opponents, he seemed to struggle more against the shorter guys.
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Any fighter is beatable. Ali was vulnerable to a good in close left hook.
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P.S. ANY HWT THAT HAS EVER LIVED, ALI WOULD BEAT THEM 6 OR 7 OUT OF 10 TIMES.
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When he was coming up I thought lots of the top fighters would beat him. Cooper gave him his toughest fight. He wanted to quit against Liston, before Liston quit. The longer he fought the more I realized how great he was. He fought all of the contenders, the ones who Patterson refused to fight. He beat all of them. He was the fastest heavyweight I have ever seen. Any one can be beaten. He could adapt to styles, and in his prime he cleaned out the division. It is impossible to say who from outside his era that could have beaten him, but it makes a good question.
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Ali was not unbeatable. Frazier, Norton and Young proved that.
Mike Tyson , in prime, would have been hard.
Vitali Klitschko is very underrated.
Talents like Greg Page, Riddick Bowe fell well short of potential. A number of guys could have had their good shot at him.
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