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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Ali becomes first three-time heavyweight champ
By Larry Schwartz
Special to ESPN.com


Sept. 15, 1978

At 36, Muhammad Ali shows he still can occasionally float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. While just a shell of his former self, that's enough for him to avenge his loss to Leon Spinks seven months ago.

Before a crowd of some 70,000 at the Superdome in New Orleans, Ali, the 2-1 favorite, is in control throughout and registers an easy unanimous decision over the 25-year-old former Marine. Counterpunching with a left hook that beats a steady tattoo on the side of Spinks' battered head, Ali becomes the first to win the heavyweight title three times.

"It was as one-sided as a lynching," writes Pulitzer Prize-winner Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times. "I've seen better fights in Hollywood nightclubs. Leon Spinks had a no-hitter the last time I looked."





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