Rocky Marciano vs. Muhammad Ali Boxing Fantasy Fight

Ali vs. Marciano for Heavyweight Supremacy


Rocky Marciano vs. Muhammad Ali is one of the most talked about fantasy boxing matches of all-time. Its pits two of the best heavyweights ever against one another. Marciano, the blue collar workhorse, the Brockton Blockbuster, the undefeated champion, against the Greatest, Muhammad Ali, the first three-time heavyweight champion in history.

This fight wasn’t just talked about, there was actually a movie production made about Rocky Marciano vs. Muhammad Ali. Dubbed “The Superfight,” the two men participated in the filming of the movie by sparring and training.

The movie was then spliced together to match what a basic computer model had decided on for the outcome of the fight. The movie, which was filmed while Ali was absent from the sport after being stripped of his title, was released in January of 1970. Marciano won by 13th round knockout.

Of course, it takes much more than statistics and knockout percentages to determine who is going to win a boxing match. With both at the peak of their boxing powers, who would emerge the winner? The young phenom with the lightning speed, the big mouth and a keen sense of the big stage, or the punishing late starter, who burst onto the scene, knocked out all comers and left before tasting defeat?

Rocky Marciano vs. Muhammad Ali: Meet the Fighters

Rocky Marciano

  • Height: 5’10”
  • Reach: 67″
  • Weight: 185-190 lbs
  • Nickname: The Brockton Blockbuster; Rock; The Rock from Brockton
  • Record: 49-0; 43 knockouts
  • Accomplishments: 6 title defenses; 2 wins each over Jersey Joe Walcott and Ezzard Charles, beat an aged Joe Louis appearing in his last professional fight; retired undefeated

Muhammad Ali

  • Height: 6’3″
  • Reach: 80″
  • Weight: 210-215 lbs
  • Nickname: The Greatest; The Louisville Lip; G.O.A.T.
  • Record: 56-5; 37 knockouts
  • Accomplishments: Three-time heavyweight champion; 19 championship defenses; two wins each over Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Sonny Liston and Floyd Patterson; defeated undefeated George Foreman; defeated an aged Archie Moore appearing in his second to last professional fight

Rocky Marciano vs. Muhammad Ali: Breaking down the Styles

Credit: Estate of Rocky Marciano – c/o CMG Worldwide

Marciano was a come-forward slugger if there ever was one. With 43 knockouts in 49 fights, all wins, Marciano proved time and time again that he always had the equalizer ready and waiting to be unleashed from his arsenal. He could set up his power beautifully and he had crushing power in his monster right hand. As he continued to develop throughout his career, he could also do damage with his left hook as well.

His power didn’t fall off either when his level of competition rose. In his last seven professional fights, all title bouts, he scored six stoppages. He could level the boom at anytime, either extinguishing his foe with a Blockbuster as early as the first round, as he did when he won the title from Jersey Joe Walcott in September 1952, or breaking down an opponent slowly but surely until the only thing left to do was succumb and collapse, as he did when he defended his newly won title via 13th round knockout against Walcott in May 1953.

Muhammad Ali deployed two distinct styles in his career, although each had myriad variations and wrinkles. In his first run to the title, as an undefeated, uber-talented kid, Ali relied on his physical gifts, and they were plentiful, to overwhelm opponents. With an 80″ reach and standing 6’3″, Ali could easily keep away from his opponent’s shots while landing his own. He also was more than willing to be aggressive as well, thanks to his innate instincts and timing, and his sensational speed of hand, foot and reflexes.

Credit: Ken Regan; Ali.com

After his layoff, physical gifts diminishing more and more with each passing fight, Ali became much more adaptable. He could “Rope-A-Dope” you, a la George Foreman, he could go to war with you, a la Joe Frazier I and III, and he could shine your shoes and play keep away as well, a la Joe Frazier II.

Marciano clearly held more power between the two fighters. Ali would bring his physical size and speed into the ring with him, and both men had granite chins.

More About Muhammad Ali

Rocky Marciano vs. Muhammad Ali Fight Prediction

Rocky Marciano vs. Muhammad Ali, as much a tale of contrasting styles as anything else, is also a tale of different eras. Marciano reigned over a heavyweight scene in which he was a muscular brute at 5’10”, weighing in at between 185 and 190 lbs. His main contemporaries and rivals had shined largely as light heavyweights, including Ezzard Charles and Archie Moore.

Ali, at 6’3″ and with over a foot of reach on Maricano, was 210 lbs of lean, sinewy muscle. He faced plenty of big bruisers in his time at the top of the heavyweight scene. But the bruisers he faced were largely bigger, and badder. George Foreman was over 6’3″ with an 82″ reach, weighing in at a frightening, cut 225 lbs in his prime. His idol and tutor, Sonny Liston, was 6’1″ with an 84″ reach, weighing around 215 lbs.

Unlike Foreman and Liston, Marciano simply wasn’t a massive man. Unlike Ali-rival Frazier, he didn’t come forward in a blur of bobbing and weaving, slipping shots and always moving. Unlike the 6’2″, 220 lbs Ken Norton, he didn’t have a piston jab, or an awkwardly effective defensive posture. He came in with a crouch to wing punches and bash your head in. Effective enough as it was, it wouldn’t be enough for a fighter with Ali’s speed, size and skills.

Rocky Marciano vs. Muhammad Ali would be bull vs. matador, only this matador had his own set of horns as well. Marciano would perpetually be walking forward into a stiff left jab landing in the middle of his face, perpetually launching left hooks at the empty space that Ali had been in a few seconds prior.

Would Ali be able to maintain his focus for all 15 rounds? Even a short period of gloating, showboating or lollygagging could end with him getting pummeled against the ropes, or worse, staring up at the ceiling and seeing stars. Against a fighter with The Rock’s power, he would have the edge he needed all night, and would stay mindful of his P’s and Q’s.

Meanwhile, those jabs and the vicious right crosses that followed them would eventually take their toll. There was no taking the heart away from Marciano, no wearing him out. But with eyes beginning to swell, and then bleed, a cut across the bridge of his nose pouring blood down his nose and into his mouth, his vision and effectiveness would continue to decline throughout the affair. The referee, against the desires of Marciano and his corner, waves off the fight due to the cuts in the 10th round.

Rocky Marciano vs. Muhammad Ali Fight Result: Ali Wins by 10th round TKO due to cuts

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4 comments

  1. I agree – it is just so hard seeing Marciano being able to get in there and land anything meaningful unless Ali gave him the chance. The Louisville Lip was arrogant enough to make such a blunder, but having stumbled, would never make it twice. The older and wiser Ali would simply never make the blunder in the first place. Ali would give Marciano a one-sided thumping.

  2. What are you talking about? “One-sided thumping?” No one ever gave Marciano a one-sided thumping in his professional career. Tons of truths and facts in your assessment seem to have been forgotten or ignored. I’ll keep it brief (because after all, you are making it look like Rocky is some type of fool. He wasn’t. He was knocking out men who outweighed him and were taller. First: despite Ali’s speed he would eventually get caught with a Marciano bomb. They all did. Marciano was clumsy BUT he never stood still. He took shots to the head and kept coming. You guys are talking about someone who would be intimidated by Ali? Rocky wouldn’t be. Unlike many other fighters — ask Ezzard Charles & Jersey Joe Walcott — whenever Marciano landed a shot – anywhere on the body – it hurt like hell. He probably landed the hardest punches this side of Foreman and Tyson. They thought he had cement in his gloves — they checked — he didn’t. Many fighters’ lost simply by exhaustion, not being able to hold their hands up & worn down. Now let’s go to Mr. Ali for some truths. While filming the original fantasy movie both fighters tested each others skills for real. Ali did indeed bloody Marciano’s nose as the computer said he would. But Ali could not complete the fight sequence filming without taking a few days off because HE COULDN’T LIFT HIS ARMS UP after a 45 year old Marciano consistently and accurately tagged his arms in the ring. Ali showed the bruises back in 1970. In an interview at that time he said no one had ever hit him that hard. If Ali loses his jab Ali is no contender. One other thing — Ali also had his bouts with fighters who were – as they say in the business – “bums.” They all do – you can’t always find top rated competition. One other thing. Ezzard Charles BROKE Rocky Marciano’s nose in one fight and Rocky’s corner told him he had to KO Ezzard or lose the title. With a broken nose Rocky KO’d Ezzard in the next round. You think Rocky Marciano would be stopped on cuts? Are you out of your mind? His head was a rock and he was not a bleeder like most fighters like Chuck Wepner. For Ali to win against Marciano he would have to RUN for all rounds, hope Marciano gets tired and Ali can land a knock out on a granite chin. Except for the broken nose bout Rocky never left the ring with a “beaten” face. Go do some more homework on boxing Jake and Rich. Marciano was also a master at cutting off the ring quickly – so Ali would have a problem with his “dancing routine” too. Ali was shorter than what Ali was used to — that would make things awkward for Ali. It would only be a matter of time — Rocky would get him in a corner and there would be no escape once Rocky planted his head against Ali’s chest and starting wailing with both sledgehammer hands. That is of course, unless Ali orders a bigger than regulation ring (like he did for some of his fights). A few good body shots from Marciano and Ali’s speed would diminish greatly. You can’t run very fast once you have aches. Then as time goes by your mind starts to think about the pain and your focus is not sharp.

    You know, this all makes me sound like I am anti-Ali. I am not. I think he is the “greatest” but he was not invincible. He lost in real life to lesser men than Rocky Marciano. I just love it when people try to “deny” the greatness of the past — in boxing, music and in movies. The men Rocky fought were double tough beyond anything an athlete could achieve. Ask anyone who got into the ring with Jack Dempsey. I knew Dempsey briefly when I worked in NY. He was in his 70’s when he was mugged. He knocked out both teenagers with a single punch each and held them for the police. In some posts this is regarded as “legend has it”: But there was a NY Post headline the next morning attesting to this event. It was not fiction.

    And here we are discussing what? A fight between two men who will never ever really meet in their primes. The real debate should not be Marciano vs Ali — it’s whether you can believe a man like Ali could lose to a Leon Spinks. And that was not a fantasy.

  3. Marciano would have beaten Ali. He was freakishly strong and was there to fight and land punches no matter what. He would have respected Ali, but pressured him more than the great Joe Frazier and won by knockout. There has never been another Rocky. And, if he were born in Ali’s time, he might have been 6’5″. All-in-all, Rocky was simply the best fighter, and the best fighter at his level always wins.

  4. I agree that Ali would have beaten Marciano by TKO, though maybe not till the 12th or 13th (his eyes peppered by jabs, it would have reached the point where he just couldn’t see). That said, Ali would never have faced a better or tougher opponent — and that includes the great Joe Frazier.

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