The Pantheon of great heavyweights include: Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Jerry Quarry, Ken Norton, Ron Lyles, Ernie Shavers, Jimmy Young to name a few.
A few of the above legends are no longer with us -- most notably Joe Frazier who passed in 2011 -- and now we lost another one:
Ken Norton, who fought three memorable fights with Muhammad Ali, breaking his jaw in winning their first bout, then losing twice, and who went on to become the World Boxing Council heavyweight champion, died on Wednesday in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, Nev. He was 70.
His death was confirmed by his son Ken Jr., an assistant coach with the N.F.L.’s Seattle Seahawks and a pro linebacker for 13 seasons, The Associated Press said. Norton had been in poor health for several years after sustaining a series of strokes, The A.P. reported.
Norton defeated Ali on a 12-round split decision in 1973 to capture the North American Boxing Federation heavyweight title. Norton was an exceptionally muscular 6 feet 2 inches and 220 pounds, but a decided underdog in that first Ali fight. source
I can vividly remember watching Ali lose this fight. In a fight many thought to be a mere tune up, the great Ali struggled to master Norton's awkward and confounding boxing technique. In the first live Ali fight I saw, as a little kid, I was practically in tears watching Norton dominate Ali from round one to round 12.
ABC's of Boxing
But this was my introduction to the ABC's of boxing: Just because boxer A can whip boxer B; and boxer B can destroy boxer C; it does not necessarily mean boxer A can beat boxer C.
In other words: Ali knocked out George Forman in a rather easy bout; George Forman destroyed Ken Norton in only two rounds; and yet, Ali badly struggled with Ken Norton in all three of their fights (all were close decisions).
As they say: In boxing styles makes fights...
Ken Norton RIP.