A few months after his revenge win over Leon Spinks, in a fight that saw Muhammad Ali make history by becoming the first ever three-time world heavyweight king, the 37-year-old announced his retirement. “The Greatest” had done everything he possibly could in the ring and now, going out on his own terms, Ali’s incredible career had ended the way he wanted it to – with a victory. But it wasn’t long before Ali pushed his luck too far. Ali had found himself another challenge – that of becoming the first man to win the heavyweight crown four times. Ali, drained by taking thyroid pills, was an empty shell against Larry Holmes in October of 1980.
Stopped for the only time in his pro career, Ali would never fight again. Or so everyone with a sound mind believed. But if Ali’s fight with Holmes was one fight too many, the 39 year old was able to make it two fights too many. It was 39 years ago today when Ali, needing money as well as fame, returned to face “a top contender.” Enter Trevor Berbick. Ali, insanely, still had ambitions to make good on his four-time champion ambition. If he could defeat Berbick, a solid heavy, if nothing too spectacular, Ali would get his chance. All these years later, when we know the full and awful price Ali paid for having fought on for far too long, the thought that he would have had another fight if he had he beaten Berbick is chilling. Ali’s quality of life was poor in the 1990s and 2000s, until his passing in 2016. Had Ali’s brain been subjected to yet another fight, it would have been an even worse existence for the man who everyone always felt would go out on top. Read more >>