Gil Clancy, a stand-up fellow who shills for no promoter, thinks Leon Spinks has a chance of beating Muhammad Ali in their heavyweight title fight next week.
The fight manager who dragged George Foreman back from his unsuccessful tilting at Ali's rope-a-dope defense and finishing punches said, "I really think Spinks is going to bang Ali around for seven or eight rounds . . . punish him pretty good.
"Then Spinks will run out of gas and Ali will stop him along about the 11th round. The big factor is, Ali can take a tremendous punch or he would be in serious trouble.
"Spinks is no Rademacher," Clancy said, referring to Pete Rademacher, who took on Floyd Patterson with no professional experience. Spinks has had seven pro fights.
"Unlike Rademacher, Spinks is a swarmer who has no respect for Ali. He will go out and tag him. Some guys in the gyms say Spinks will get the decision.
"Patterson could still punch and move around fast (in 1957). But Ali is going through the motions now. He hasn't had a good fight since he stopped Joe Frazier in Manila.
"People forget that Spinks had 185 amateur fights. They are not like pro fights, of course, but some of the guys he went up against were better than some inexperienced pro fighters. Spinks was always going up against the best amateurs before he turned pro.
"You saw what a tough fight Earnie Shavers gave Ali (before Ali won a decision)? Well, if Shavers fought Spinks, Leon would be an even bet to win. The guys in the gyms would bet Spinks.
"Spinks is an instinctive fighter; he is not going to out general Ali. He will take punches in the face; he will take and give. He will bust Ali up.
"Ali doesn't pet (punch hard) any more. He gets tired. Ali can't put three good minutes together anymore. If he does, he can't do it for two rounds in a row. He has to rest for a round.
"But Ali finds a way to win."
Spinks won the light-heavyweight gold medal in the 1976 Olympic Games at Montreal. At 24, he is 205 pounds, 6-foot-1 1/2 and a 75-inch reach to 6-foot-3 Ali's 80-inch reach, Spinks figures to be outweighed by about 15 pounds in their bout Feb. 15 in Las Vegas.
He has won six of his seven professional bouts, five by knockouts. He was held to a draw by Scott LeDlux in a 10-rounder in Las Vegas in October. Ali, also a former Olympic light-heavy weight champion, has won 55 of 57 bouts, 37 by knockouts.
Spinks became an instant, if limited, celebrity by his exposure on the worldwide telecasts of the Olympic Games. His early pro bouts thus were insured of television ratings.
That may account for the lack of serious formal protests to his fighting Ali for the heavyweight title, though Bob Martin's "Sports Book" in Las Vegas thinks Ali will be so prohibitively a favorite that it will put up no odds on the bout.
That happened on the Patterson-Rademacher bout too. "The Ring Boxing Encyclopedia and Record Book" lists an asterisk with that bout -- "out fight," meaning there were no odds offered by bookmakers.
When the Patterson-Rademacher bout was proposed then-Rep. Hugh Scott (R-Pa.) called on then-Gov. Albert D. Rossellini of Washington to ban "the so-called world championship heavyweight fight" in Seattle as "no more than preplanned slaughter" that would perpetrate a farce and imposition on boxing fans."
Former titleholder Joe Louis and Nat Fleischer, late editor of "Ring", called it the worst mismatch in boxing history. Former champion Jack Dempsey and Floyd Stevens, president of The National Boxing Association, joined the protests.
Patterson stopped Rademacher after 2 minutes 57 seconds of the sixth round, after decking him twice in that last round and five times in previous rounds.
The onetime alfalfa farmer from Yakima, Wash., had won some athletic fame as the Washington State defensive guard who in 1951 had blocked Hugh McElhenny's extra-point attempt to beat the University of Washington for the first time in 21 years.
After losing to Patterson he fought several more times as a professional before retiring. He became president of a firm in Akron, Ohio, which specializes in swimming pool equipment.