Next up in Ali’s journey to prove himself worthy of earning another shot at the Heavyweight Championship was Jerry Quarry. A lot had happened since the two had fought a couple of years back, Ali had lost the big one against Frazier while Quarry had beaten 6 opponents, albeit none of them really great fighters. Ali had next to no trouble over here, though. By round 5, he was telling the ringside media that this was an easy way for him to make a living! The fight was over in the 7th with Quarry against the ropes, he had nothing more to give.
In July 1972 Ali headed to Dublin Ireland to face a former convict named Alvin Lewis. The fight was a small portion of Ali’s trip to Ireland, a country he was visiting for the first time. Ali put Lewis down in the 5th with a strong punch but Lewis got up just before the count. Ali was showboating by the time the referee called off the bout in the 11th much to the delight of the crowd.
Next in line was Ali’s second bout against Floyd Patterson against whom Ali’s first bout had practically been a grudge fight. No wonder the second bout witnessed an audience of over 17,000 filling the Madison Square Garden. This was to be Patterson’s last professional fight and he was clearly at the end of his career. To his credit, he did deliver some meaty blows but Ali was simply too good. Ali opened a cut above Patterson’s left eye in the 6th. By the 7th the eye had swollen so much that Patterson was practically fighting with one eye forcing the referee to call off the bout, much to Floyd’s displeasure.
Ali’s last fight of 1972 was against Bob Foster who was barely over the lightweight limit. The fight took place in the unique atmosphere of a nightclub in Stateline, Nevada. Ali had predicted a 5th round knockout and practically played around with his opponent till then who refused to give up no matter how many times was he punched down to the floor. Bob did give Ali a cut which was a rarity for the “Greatest One” but it simply wasn’t enough. Foster was down on the floor 7 times in total during the fight before the referee called it a day in the 8th.
Las Vegas was the venue for Ali’s first fight of the new year and Joe Bugner was Ali’s opponent. The fight took place on Valentine’s day but Ali was definitely not in the mood for showing any love. The flashiest thing of the evening was Ali’s robe which was gifted to him by Elvis Presley and had the words “People’s Choice” on its back. The 12 round bout went the distance as Ali won via a unanimous decision again. The strong and skilled Britisher had provided Ali decent competition.
Ali was slowly but surely making it impossible for anyone to deny to that he deserved another shot at the World Heavyweight Championship. Since his close defeat against Frazier Ali had won 10 on the trot and things were looking up for people’s choice.