1977-09-29 Muhammad Ali w pts 15 Earnie Shavers, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA - WORLD

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1977-09-29 Muhammad Ali w pts 15 Earnie Shavers, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC, New York, USA - WORLD. Referee: John LoBianco. Scorecards: 9-6, 9-6, 9-5. Having hurt the champion in the second round and staggered him at various stages of the fight, the big-hitting Shavers (211¼) forced Ali (224½) to fight every step of the way. Boxing News had the men level after eight rounds, with Ali pulling ahead when winning rounds nine to 12. But with Shavers coming on strong in the 13th and 14th rounds, banging away with solid blows to head and body, Ali was forced to call upon all his resources for the final session. Countering solidly and picking his punches well it was probably Ali’s best round and in the final minute he had Shavers under tremendous pressure.

Ali’s next challenger would be Leon Spinks, who had won the same Olympic title that he had, only 16 years later. Despite being held to a draw by Scott LeDoux in his eighth fight, Spinks would be fighting for the championship having been a pro for just 13 months and with very little experience to count on.