While Leon Spinks, the 24-year-old Olympic champion was pounding out a close but unanimous 10-round decision last night over Alfio Righetti, the hitherto undefeated champion of Italy, more attention was focused on M. Ali who sat watching, then on the fighters.
Although the fight was active enough and more competitive than some had expected, there was no doubt that Ali was the only person in the building who really mattered. The crowd of 3000 reacted much more noisely to his prefight speech from the ring than to anything that happened in it afterward.
“I am here for one reason, to see which of these fighters is worthy of challenging me,” Ali cried out in his customary evangelical style, but in a voice that sounds hoarser than it used to. “I am the savior, the prophet, the resurrector,” he went on. “I am the onliest one keeping this thing alive. I am 36 years old and I’m still the greatest fighter of all time.”
Ex NYT Leonard Koppett 11/20/77