Who ever says Ali is over rated is crazy. The dude didn't even get to fight in his prime. Tie between Ali and Tyson, Lewis is up there too though.
He was in his prime in those fights before he was forced to stop. The Williams fight, the Folley fight, the Chuvalo fight, the Terrell fight. That was a man at the very peak of his powers. Who could do very little wrong in the ring.
Go watch that Zora Foley fight. Ali's entire strategy is to stay relatively close to Foley and wait for him to jab. And then avoid that jab by leaning backwards -- a move no other prominent boxer has ever even tried to pull off -- and then would immediately throw a right hand lead meant as a knock-out punch.
Think about that for a second. Think about how quickly jabs are thrown. To avoid a thrown jab by leaning back and then hitting your opponent with a straight right hand before the guy has even finished pulling the missed jab back to his face.
1. That is quite possibly the most fundamentally unsound maneuver a boxer could ever try.
2. Only a historically elite athlete like Ali had the ability to land a counterpunch in that fashion.
3. To actually use that counterpunch as an affirmative strategy is just mindblowing. He did it agaisnt Cleveland Williams as well. And those guys were the top contenders at the time. They weren't tomato cans, and yet Ali literally toyed with them like I might toy with my four year old nephew when I shadow box around with him.
My point here is that I think it is incorrect that Ali never reached his prime. I think he did, but I just would have loved to see three or four more years of it, because that guy fighting was poetry in motion.