Today I watched the Muhammad Ali and George Chuvalo rematch from 1973. The fight took place in Vancouver Canada and was roughly seven years after their 1966 encounter in Toronto where Ali still the champion defeated Chuvalo by unanimous decision. Having seen that fight several times on ESPN Classic its hard to forget the hard charging Chuvalo with a great ability to absorb punishment chug forward and dig at Ali’s body. It was a dominant fight from Ali but Chuvalo took him the fifteen round duration and took it to the champion every chance he got. I had not watched the second fight in maybe eight years or longer and I recalled Chuvalo having plenty of success on the comeback trail Ali. Ali was only in the third year of his post exile career and just one year removed from The Fight of the Century where he suffered his first defeat at the hands of Joe Frazier. Ali was incredibly active following the Frazier fight with Chuvalo being a fifth fight in a fourteen month span. Hell Ali fought former champion Jimmy Ellis just four months after the Frazier fight! A brutal fight like that with this quick of a turn around is unheard of today. For Chuvalo his career had ups and downs following their initial encounter. He tallied a record of 31-5 but failed to get back into title contention. His bright spots were a knockout win over Jerry Quarry and decisions over Manuel Ramos and Ernie Terrel. He of course was stopped when the towel came in vs George Forman and when Joe Frazier broke his orbital bone and burst a blood vessel in his eye. Miraculously Chuvalo had still never gone down in his career despite facing some murderous punchers and suffering some horrific injuries. Losses also came to Buster Mathis, Jimmy Ellis, and Oscar Bonavena and Chuvalo fought a real whose who of fighters.
Ali promised to be the first man to floor Chuvalo and Chuvalo promised to be the first to knockout Ali. The crowd was fairly pro Chuvalo with constant chants for George and the crowd booing Ali in certain moments especially in round four when he had to have his shoe tied during the action. Ali opened the fight on his toes and extremely mobile as Chuvalo carefully pursued. The best moments came with Ali’s uppercut and a solid right cross. Chuvalo scored a pair of jabs and cornered Ali late in the round for a rally of his own. The film lost the second round and much of the third. Chuvalo got the crowd in a frenzy with a a few well placed power punches. He set up a left hook to the head off a right to the body and then swarmed in. Ali weathered and fired off straight punches to take back charge of the action. Round five and six were the most memorable of the fight. In the fifth Chuvalo catches Ali again and corners him after being visibly angry following a clinch. Ali stayed in the corner and waved Chuvalo in again and again and even stood straight up with his hands on the ropes. Chuvalo obliged without selling out but Ali got the better of him with his superior reflexes and hand speed. Eventually Chuvalo retreated and Ali pursued him across the ring. In round six Ali came after Chuvalo with jabs and crosses and even mixed in the shovel hook. He definitely hurt Chuvalo though he recovered nicely as Ali appeared to empty the tank trying to push the advantage. Chuvalo was cut up at the conclusion of the round and displayed the courage he is known for. Round seven and eight see a more lethargic Ali who is still getting his wind back from the big assault in round six. Much of what Ali does is pitter patter straight punches though in round eight he does start to put some power behind the left hook. In round ten Ali begins to reestablish distance as Chuvalo continues to come up short. Ali’s jab gets back to form with a piston like snap as he carries the fight back to Chuvalo. In the end neither man delivered on their promise but Ali scored a decisive victory in a good showing while Chuvalo in his late career had a great performance too. Let it also be known the fight was scored on a five point must system where the winner gets five points the loser can get up to four.
Jersey George: 53 Ali 46 Chuvalo (round 2 discounted) if Ali wins 2nd 58-50 if Chuvalo wins 2nd 57-51 either way a pretty definitive victory for Ali
Officially 59-51, 58-51 and 60-46 all to Muhammad Ali with the Associated Press scoring 58-52 in favor of Ali