In a similar fashion to Irish's Jones Jr vs Hagler thread, I want to present the hypothetical scenario of a prime Ali vs a prime RJJ, both fighting at a weight of 200lbs.
Personally I believe Jones would take it, most likely by a timid UD, with a late knockdown of Ali via left hook. Ali has the height and reach advantage, but Jones makes up for it in handspeed, reaction time and unorthodox methods of attack.
Some might be quick to compare their careers and argue that Ali beat many more legitimate opponents, whereas RJJ's career is largely hand picked, and that may be true to a degree, but I still think it is wrong to not acknowledge that Jones not only dominated, but embarrassed many solid boxers, even if they weren't the elite of the divisions.
This is simply not true. Besides the fact that fighters train much the same way today as they did when Ali fought, fighting is different than football or baseball where the athletes are much bigger and better conditioned.
Weight classes are weight classes and this type of thinking does not hold up in boxing.
And Ali would win at HW. Roy was great, and I've said P4P I think he could have beaten anyone out there. But specifically at HW- RJJ was a natural middlweight. Put him against arguably the greatest heavyweight of all time at that weight and I think he gets beat.
I agree with Irish. I think at HW Ali would win and no way would Ali make middleweight.
I think a more interesting match-up would be a prime Jones Jr. vs a prime Sugar Ray Robinson, since both fought at Middleweight (both held the title) and both are considered to be among the greatest P4P fighters of all time.
I've watched some old Cassius Clay footage on ESPN lately, and he had great handspeed, reaction time and unorthodox methods of attack also. Naturally bigger, with his height and reach, I'm taking Ali. And RJJ is my favorite boxer off all time.
In my opinion Sugar Ray Robinson was easily the pound for pound greatest. The phrase boxer-puncher really only fits when used to describe him. He had KO power in either hand and defensive skills to rival Willy Pep. I loved watching Jones in his prime, but I think Robinson would have won. More so, if the fight would have had the "less concerned with fighter safety" style of reffing used in Robinsons day, Robinson would have HURT Jones.
I do think Archie Moore deserves mention as a P4P great. He fought and won for decades (220 fights, 185 wins, 130 KO's. That is a 70% knockout rate over a 25 plus year career.)
Ali is a much more natural 2-bills than Jones, but Jones hand and foot speed would make Ali seem slow, and that is saying an awful lot. If pressed, I'm taking Ali, 'cause as Jones dad once said "You don't run a volkswagon into a Mac Truck".
Since this is a debate with no real winner, I'm sticking with Jones over Ali. Call it crazy, but I'm sticking with it. I can't say too much about Sugar or the others, as I'm still a neophyte to boxing.
In my opinion, Ali would win. Ali had a chin and heart. Jones, admittedly, hates to mix it up. He always had the fear of ending up like Ali or a close friend of his, another pro boxer, Gerald McClellan, I believe. Ali was willing to die in the ring, Jones is not.
And, yes, Jones had blinding hand speed but do not discount Ali's speed and as a natural heavy.
I agree with the other posters who mention Ray Robinson as best ever and JL as best heavy.
I watched Roy Ruiz again and I have to say, I don't think it would be close. Ali bet some of the best heavys of all time PAST HIS BEST. Roy was a great middleweight, but I think it would be very misguided to think he could take Ali in his own territory.
Should just point out here, everyone is talking like Ali was a big boy. He wasn't.
Ignoring that he is 6'4, he wasn't ever a big heavyweight, he was average sized at 205lbs and only ever walked around 210-215 later into his career when he got pudgy.
Comparing hand speed, Jones in the Ruiz fight, weighing in 88kg/193lbs (I have to wonder if how much he cut, because he looked HUGE for 88kg/193lbs), Jones was still faster than any heavyweight I've seen by a long shot (although I guess we've established now that size doesn't really impact on handspeed. Fast at middle gonna be fast at heavy). Ali was known for his speed too, but a lot of that comes from being an excellent counter puncher with a good work rate. In a comparison of sheer hand speed and ability to deliver that speed with extreme accuracy and power, I'd say Jones takes the cake there.
Tactically Ali has the reach and height advantage, and has fought his whole career by keeping people on the outside and moving a lot, which means Jones has to snipe his way in with fast power shots or unorthodox/awkard setups.
I'm kind of on the fence now, but personally I just feel that Ali being "the greatest of all time" is a product of the hype machine. One of the greats? Yes of course. Greatest? So arguable.
I agree that Roy does have the edge on pure handspeed, but he didn't have many fights at heavyweight, so it's harder to judge. And Ruiz is nowhere near the oppponent that Sonny Liston, Floyd Patterson, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, etc. were.
So keep in mind that Ali was a MUCH bigger man who was nearly as fast as Roy, and hit harder.
I don't think that Jones ever really fought anyone of Ali's caliber. On top of that, the thing is that Ali has all of the positive tributes of Ali, but he was a better actual boxer. Roy relied so much on his natural talent that when he got in trouble, he didn't know what to do.
Ali would have landed enough flush shots to knock Roy out.
I used to think this, but really, look at the list of who he beat. Every great fighter, every big name, for 15 years, and he fought them all and in their primes- and won.
I think maybe Joe Louis would have beat him, I think maybe Rocky Marciano would have wore him down, I think he'd have a hard time with the pure size of those russian cunts that rule the division today.
But as for all time ability, plus the amount of legends he beat, makes him "The Greatest of All Time."
I was about to use their records as a argument for saying Roy had superior punching power, but looking at it now Ali is 56 wins for 37 knockouts and Roy is 54 wins for 40 knockouts so the difference isn't dramatic.
It's worth noting however that a good portion of Ali's KO's were TKOs by way of corner stoppage and late round KOs.
The difference in hand and foot speed between Jones and Ali would be monumental. Jones is p4p the fastest dude ever, and he might be the fastest disregarding weight, too. With that, Ali is just too damn big and too damn skilled. Like Irish said, Jones had some absolutely awful habits that he could get away with 'cause he was so much faster/stronger/better than everyone. His speed would give Ali trouble, but like Ali usually did he'd find a way to beat him.