Boxing Simulation All-Time Heavyweight Champion Part 7 Ali v. Marciano

About a computer simulation ran to determine the all-time heavyweight championship boxer of the world, the super fight between Muhammad Ali and Rocky Marciano.

The All-Time Heavyweight Championship of the World

The Super Fight: Muhammad Ali v. Rocky Marciano

Rocky Marciano accepted the title of All-Time Computerized Heavyweight Champion of the World with modesty. But Muhammad Ali, eliminated in the quarterfinals of the make-believe tournament, did not greet the outcome with aplomb. He filed suit against promoter Murry Woroner for $1 million, claiming his electronic defeat by Jim Jeffries had defamed him.

The suit eventually was settled in court for $1. And it gave Woroner another idea. If 16 million people would listen to a computerized bout staged for radio, how many would pay to watch one on television? The Miami producer queried Marciano and Ali: How would they like to act out a bout for the camera, based on a computer-written script, and show the world who might win a Super Fight between 2 living undefeated ex-champions? They would like it very much, they said, especially when Woroner explained that he planned to beam the fight into more than 1,000 theaters worldwide, via closed-circuit television, and that the gate could top $5 million. Marciano announced he would take a flat fee for his stint; Ali asked for a cut of the profits.

Once again the NCR-315 computer was fed 129 variables on each boxer; once again it began to whir, blink and spew out round-by-round results of an imaginary conflict. Before the computer had reached its decision, the fighters were ready to do their thing for the cameras.

In the summer of 1969, Woroner sealed off a television studio in an out-of-the-way district of North Miami Beach and put 4 camera crews to work filming Rocky and Muhammad throwing leather.

Rocky had lost 50 lbs. and donned a toupee for the match. Ali was in good shape, despite a layoff. Under Woroner's direction, they sparred for the equivalent of 70 rounds, acting out every possible situation for the film editors to use when matching scenes to the computer's script. So that no one would know the outcome prior to the televised bout, Woroner filmed 7 different endings for the fight: each boxer winning by a KO, a TKO, or a decision, plus a draw.

As the fighters simulated reality, the few privileged onlookers speculated about which man might have won a real fight, if they could have met in their primes. Both were undefeated in professional boxing: Marciano's record was 49-0-0 with 43 KOs, Ali's was 29-0-0 with 24 KOs. Marciano gave up height and weight to the Louisville Hummingbird. The 5'10 1/2" Marciano fought at 184 lbs., the 6'3" Ali at 211. And Ali had the reach on Rocky by more than a foot. Muhammad's arms stretched 82" and the Brockton Blockbuster's only 68".

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