After more than 3.5 years “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali returned to the square. Most of the states had overturned the ban on his boxing license allowing Ali to return to his craft. In these 3.5 years, his image had drastically changed. From being a traitor to the nation he was now a national icon, especially for the Blacks. He stood for all they wanted: freedom, equality and peace.
Ali was now 28, the venue of the fight was the City Auditorium of Atlanta. The 15 round bout was to be held on October 26, 1970, and it was to be as broadcast on closed-circuit. Over 5000 fans were inside the sold out arena. The fight was different from most Ali fights. True it was again a sold out arena but the audience was massively difference. The who’s who of the American civil movement including Jesse Jackson, Julian Bond, Ralph Abernathy, Arthur Ashe were there in live attendance. The media frenzy surrounding the event was beyond belief after all the king had returned to start the process to reclaim his throne.
Such was the environment that most forgot that Ali’s opponent was an extremely established boxer in his own rights. Irish Jerry Quarry was ranked No. 1 in the world by Ring Magazine and had recently defeated Floyd Patterson. Add to it the anticipated ring rust that was bound to impact Ali, all signs pointed to the fight going the distance.
Seconds into the fight Ali proved that there was no ring rust. The speed and reflexes were still intact and as always he was bouncing away in the ring throwing punches. Within minutes Quarry’s rose was beginning to redden from the punches. Ali dominated the second round too, hitting his traditional left jabs with a high deal of accuracy.
Quarry tried to stage a comeback in the third round and for a few seconds had Ali close to the ropes but by then the damage had been done. All the punches to his face had caused a deep gash to his left eye which would soon start bleeding profusely. Ali was again on the attack as the round ended.
At the end of the round, the referee declared it was impossible for Quarry to continue with the damaged eye and handed Ali a Technical Knockout Win. Quarry tried to argue as he wanted to continue but wasn’t allowed to.
Ali was truly back, in a fight which was expected to go into double digit rounds he had wrapped up proceedings after a mere three. Ali’s trainer Angelo Dundee later claimed that it didn’t seem for a second that Ali was away for 43 months and few disagreed with that statement.