ALI & HIGHBURY
Sat, 23 May 2020
The Greatest’ & ‘The Greatest Prize in Boxing’ have more than their names in common. They have both been to Highbury, the famous North London stadium in England.
During his outstanding career, Muhammad Ali boxed three times in London – at Wembley, Highbury, and Earl’s Court – with two of those fights against British hero Henry Cooper, and today, May 21, marks the 44th anniversary of the latter, Ali vs Cooper II.
The first Ali-Cooper took place at Wembley Stadium on June 18, 1963, in front of 35,000 fans, and with the referee stopping the bout in round 5 in Ali’s favour. The second bout came about three years later at Highbury, the former home of Arsenal Football Club.
The contest for the WBA & WBC heavyweight World Titles held the record for the largest live audience at a British boxing event with 46,000 people packed into the stands and on the pitch. Cooper believed he could upset Ali, after scoring a rare knockdown of the legend in their first encounter, but in the sixth round, the fight was stopped due to a cut over Cooper’s eye.
Last year in October the Muhammad Ali Trophy visited Highbury as a tribute to Ali vs Cooper II and as a link to the World Boxing Super Series Super-Lightweight final at The O2 between Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor.
A Trophy of the present and a battle from the past crossed paths while the legacy of The Greatest lived on in the World Boxing Super Series.
“I’ve been looking up to Ali my entire life,” said Regis Prograis when he saw the trophy up close at The O2. “I’ve read all of his books and he is a legend both inside and outside of the ring. Saturday I will be in the biggest fight of my life with a chance to win the WBSS final and the Muhammad Ali Trophy. It looks amazing and I can’t wait to fight for it here at The O2.”
But Prograis was not alone in his desire of the coveted trophy. “I’ve been visualising lifting that trophy,” said Josh Taylor. “Posing for the pictures at the end of the fight with the belts and the trophy. I’ve envisioned and visualised this for ages since this tournament came around.”
The Muhammad Ali Trophy:
The Muhammad Ali Trophy is also known as the Greatest Prize in Boxing and it is being awarded to the winner of the World Boxing Super Series.
Ali gave his blessings to the WBSS and agreed to give his name to its prize, and the trophy was created by the late world-renowned artist Silvio Gazzaniga who also designed the iconic FIFA World Cup Trophy.
Ali Trophy winners:
2019: Josh Taylor (Super-Lightweight), Nagoya Inoue (Bantamweight)
2018: Aleksandr Usyk (Cruiserweight), Callum Smith (Super Middleweight)
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