The heavyweight champion was booed so often during his ultimately successful defense of his world title. Ali was only playing at boxing during the first nine rounds, and the crowd did not like it. Boxing fans like their world heavyweight champions to fight, not play patty-cake or stand against the ropes and play peek-a-boo.
What kind of champion was Ali last night? “Tonight he was a bad one,” said Shavers after the bout. “If I were champion, I would never fight like that, holding all the time.” In the eight round, in which the boos were the loudest, the champion yelled back at the crowd. When the boos persisted, he started booing himself.
Shavers stung the champion several times with right hands – “in the second, ninth, tenth and last rounds,” said the champion. “But by the power of Allah, I won.”
The champion did not sound like a very religious man during most of the fight. “He kept calling me ‘nigger,’” said Shavers, “kept saying, ‘Nigger, I’m going to get you.’” After a while, said Shavers, “I called him a nigger too.”
“I’m almost as tired as I was in Manila. And you all know I talk a lot, burn a lot of energy. I’ve been walking the streets of Harlem, campaigning, shaking hands.”
Ali said he had taken some punches “that would knock anyone out.”
“And me, I’m 35 years old.” “It’s magnificent,” said Angelo Dundee. “The way that man can suck it up.”
NYT Katz 9/30/77