Another man who declared himself the best fighter ever, Muhammad Ali, fought well beyond his best years and finally succumbed to Father Time on December 11 1981 in Nassau, Bahamas.
He was to take on Trevor Berbick, who had recently loss to Larry Holmes, a man who had also beaten the once-great Ali. In our preview, we described the contest as “The fight the boxing world dreaded takes place.”
While Berbick was no mug, he was cumbersome and fairly limited, but certainly strong. Ali, who turned 40 the month after the fight, was simply too old to still be competing. We hoped that Ali would not get too hurt in the fight and that it would be “the final chapter in a career that has descended from majesty to travesty.”
The fight was surprisingly competitive for seven of the scheduled 10 rounds until Berbick was able to impose his youth and strength to earn scores of 99-94 twice and 97-94.
“Father Time has caught up with me. I’m finished. I’ve got to face the facts. We all lose sometimes. We all grow old. This is the end,” Ali said after the fight.
He later retired, his health deteriorating and he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1984.
While most deplored Ali’s continued career, especially his fight with Berbick, no one is calling for Mayweather to retire in the interests of his health. A defensive wizard, he has rarely been hurt in his career and Berto looks unlikely to change that. While Ali tried desperately to cling onto his former glory, Mayweather looks content to admire his while fighting inferior opposition.