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Original Issue


Back home in Chandler, Ariz. after his seventh-round knockout in New York, Challenger Folley assessed what had happened to him in their bout—and became a true believer

"I went to New York to win the championship. I wouldn't have gone if I did not think I could win. I was confident. But Ali beat me at my own game. He did the same thing to Liston (knocked him out with a right hand, didn't he); Williams, another big puncher, Ali knocked him out in short order. Terrell, the great jabber, what happened to him? He got outjabbed. And Patterson, the guy with superspeed hands, couldn't match Ali and just stood around and got punched to pieces.

"The right hands Ali hit me with just had no business landing—but they did. They came from nowhere. Many times he was in the wrong position but he hit me anyway. Blatt! and the punch connected. I've never seen anyone who could do that. The knockdown punch was so fast that I never saw it. He has lots of snap, and when the punches land they dizzy your head; they fuzz up your mind.

"The first time I went down, I wasn't hurt, but I didn't know what had happened. Suddenly I became aware of the noise and then I saw Ali standing over me, and I figured I was down. So I wheeled around to look at my corner, to find out the count. I kept thinking, was that a right hand he hit me with? So what did he do but hit me with the same punch again in the seventh round and knock me out. I can't believe it, but that's what he did.

"He's smart. The trickiest fighter I've seen. He's had 29 fights and acts like he's had a hundred. He could write the book on boxing, and anyone that fights him should be made to read it first.

"I did things to Ali that have never been done before. He missed more punches and landed fewer than with all of those other guys he's been in with. I also cut the ring on him, reduced it so consistently that he chose to stand and fight. He's a safety-first fighter, no matter how foolish he looks. And I made him fight. That could have been my worst mistake, making him fight. I hurt him to the body, but he's tough. You can tell from the way he's put together that he's got pride. The man's a real fighter. Look at the way he acts out of the ring and you can see that. In the ring the guy doesn't show when he's been hurt. Not even the smallest sign, the way most fighters do. He beat me good, but he didn't beat me bad.

"There's just no way to train yourself for what he does: the moves, the speed, the punches and the way he changes style every time you think you got him figured. Wendell Newton, my sparring partner, jumped around and he was awkward, but he wasn't Ali. Ali is something else. I fought middleweights, even smaller men and they weren't as fast. This guy has a style all of his own. It's far ahead of any fighter's around today, so how could those oldtime fighters, you know, Dempsey, Tunney or any of them keep up? Louis wouldn't have a chance—he was too slow. Marciano couldn't get to him, and he would never get away from Ali's jab. The only one who would have a good chance was Ezzard Charles, a real fast heavyweight who was smart and was perhaps the best combination puncher of them all."