ALI WAS REALLY LUCKY when it comes to rematches.
In fact, one could say that the ONLY reason why Ali is a household name is because he was so "rematch lucky".
Just imagine the following hypothetical scenario, in which Cassius Clay (aka Muhammad Ali) had less luck:
- Ali loses to Frazier (as he did in their first fight) but would never rematch Frazier.
- Ali loses to Ken Norton (as he did in their first fight) but would never rematch Norton.
- Ali loses to Leon Spinks (as he did in their first fight) but would never rematch Spinks.
- Ali wins against Sonny Liston but then loses in the rematch instead of winning by a ridiculous gift stoppage.
- Ali wins against Foreman, gives Foreman a rematch and (very likely) loses the rematch
- Foreman annihilates Ken Norton and Joe Frazier (as he indeed did, KO2 and KO2)
- Leon Spinks ends his career with a bummy record of 26-16 (= Spinks' record without the Ali rematch)
It would be completely and utterly clear for anybody, that Ali is merely a B level boxer, who has hardly ever beaten convincingly a top opponent and who has the greatest difficulties "against such tomato cans like Norton, Frazier or Spinks", whereas Foreman is clearly the top dog of the 1970s having beaten all bigger names.
It's only because Ali was lucky enough to be given a rematch against Frazier, Norton and Spinks to avenge his losses.
And it's only because Ali REFUSED to give Foreman a rematch so that Ali's aura of superiority could continue to shine.
Ali was simply lucky he didn't live in times of countless TV channels, governing bodies and boxing promoters like is the case nowadays.
And it's exactly the non-rematching of Wladimir Klitschko vs Ross Puritty and Wladimir Klitschko vs Corrie Sanders and of Vitali Klitschko vs Chris Byrd that feeds AliFants and Klitschko haters to this very day.
Ali's rematching is _THE_ major reason for Ali's resume being considered a top resume. Without his rematches he would have a completely different level of resume with a far worse Win-Fight-ratio and far less world titles won.
What would have happened with Ali in our times?
Would Ali live in our times (= the times of competing TV networks and competing belt organizations) and let's say Don King had 4 belt holders (Norton, Frazier, Liston, Spinks) it would be extremely difficult for Ali to stage a rematch.
When Don King had 4 belt holders at the same time…
…not one unification bout was staged among them.
Because 4 champs generate more money.
And 5 to 10 world championships per year generate more money than 2 or 3.
Additionally each of these 4 champs would have to have different mandatory opponents.
Additionally each of these 4 champs would possibly be broadcast by different TV networks.
That's how complicated things are nowadays.
And guess what: although the situation was more rematch friendly back in Ali's days (the further you go back in time the rematch friendlier it was), it took Ali 13(!) fights before he finally could avenge his first career loss to Frazier.
Muhammad Ali was lucky
Not only was Ali lucky that the rematches happened, but also the way how they went.
The rematch Ali vs Norton was a SD split decision.
The rematch Ali vs Frazier was a narrow UD decision (8-4, 7-4, 6-5), with many nowadays fans giving the edge to Frazier.
The rematch against Leon Spinks was actually forbidden by the rules of the WBC. Spinks (as the WBC belt holder) was ordered by the WBC to not rematch Muhammad Ali, but to face the WBC mandatory. Only because Spinks chose to drop his WBC belt, Ali got his rematch.
The rematch against Sonny Liston is the most contested KO in boxing history. That's all you need to know. A disgrace inside the ring (the referee didn't even start to count) and outside the ring (Sonny Liston's wife and son were kidnapped by Muhammad Ali's Muslim friends).
So there you have it. Slight changes in the way things had fallen into place and Ali's record would have been far far worse.