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Kevin Iole compares Chuck Liddell in 2010 to Muhammad Ali in 1980 vs. Larry Holmes

By Zach Arnold | June 11, 2010

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Kevin Iole & Steve Cofield of Yahoo Sports talked about the upcoming Chuck Liddell vs. Rich Franklin fight at UFC 115 and during the conversation, Kevin made a comparison of tomorrow’s bout to the infamous Muhammad Ali vs. Larry Holmes 1980 bout which was completely one-sided. ESPN recently did a 30for30 documentary on the lead-up and aftermath of the fight, which some of our site commenters recently referenced to. This was the fight that Thomas Hauser referred to as the night when Ali screamed in pain.

Here’s the transcript of the Yahoo Sports team conversation.

STEVE COFIELD: “I thought one of the interesting things, Kevin, at the press conference yesterday and much of the talk the last couple of days has been around Chuck Liddell and his ‘lifestyle’ which I wrote a little piece this morning about hey, whether it was lifestyle or alcoholism, it was clear last year something had to be changed with Chuck Liddell and he did it.”

KEVIN IOLE: “Yeah, I mean, he’s in great shape, I mean, I’ve seen him up close here for three days now and he’s in phenomenal shape. The question is does that translate to a fight? You know, who knows. I have my doubts, you know, if you told me hey, it’s going to be Chuck Liddell, he’s recovered, he’s you know I’d pick him to win the fight but you know I have my doubts whether he is you know even though he’s in great shape is he still in fighting shape? That’s the question.”

STEVE COFIELD: “What do you think was going down?”

KEVIN IOLE: “Well, you know, I don’t know so much that it was alcoholism. I mean, maybe he wasn’t alcoholic but I don’t think he is. I just think it was, you know, you get to be 40 years old and you know you have to treat your body a little differently. The athletes, you know, when you’re 20 years old you can go out there and you can play hard and your body recovers very quickly and the next day you can go out and you can compete, you can train, you can do whatever. But it was obviously his lifestyle being out late, carousing, doing everything he was doing, was effecting his training and then affecting his training was you know going into his fights. So, and Chuck fights a very tough where he takes a lot of punches. One of the strengths of his career and I wrote about this in my column on Yahoo Sports, Steve, was his chin. You know, you would hit Chuck on the chin and he would kind of smile and keep coming forward and you know and now you hit Chuck on the chin, he goes down, that’s a big issue for him in fighting. Dana just wanted to see Chuck clean up his lifestyle so that he could train the right way and see if he’s done or see if it was just the issues outside of fighting that were causing the problems.”

STEVE COFIELD: “All right. You don’t sound convinced that even in shape that he’s been able to solve some of the technical issues?”

KEVIN IOLE: “Well, I mean, my concern is when a guy starts getting knocked out, I don’t see that coming back. I don’t see that changing. I think, you know, once you kind of hit that slope and you start going that way, you know that more often than not you know and a high percentage not, guys just don’t get their you know chin back and so you know Chuck fights that style where you know his chin’s exposed. He takes chances, you know, he gets in shootouts, he stands right in front of guys and as a result you know he gets hit so… you know I’d like to be able to say, hey, he’s got it back and we’re going to be in a really competitive fight here. I just don’t know that in fact he does.”

STEVE COFIELD: “So what do you think Dana White’s thinking right now? Because he wanted to retire him back in April ‘09, he talked about hey, the biggest thing was, show me that you’re into it, show me that you’re dedicated. Do you think he’s worried about another ugly loss against a guy like Rich Franklin?”

KEVIN IOLE: “Well, I mean, yes and no. I mean, obviously he’s very close with Chuck and you know I think Dana, you know, just from a personal standpoint would want to see Chuck win the fight. From a professional standpoint, I think what he wants is he wants Chuck to go out there and perform at a high-level and whether he wins or whether he loses you know is irrelevant, just the fact that he performs at a high-level. I don’t think he has to win the fight to get Dana’s blessing to keep on fighting. I think what he needs to do, Steve, is I think he needs to look good and not get knocked out by one punch. I mean I think if he loses the fight, say he loses an unanimous decision but he’s in the fight, I think you know Dana will give him another fight. You know, now whether Chuck will want that because I think Chuck wants to go after one more title shot. That’s going to take a couple of wins though over guys Rich Franklin-level and then better to get that. If Chuck loses a decision in this fight, it will make it an even longer way back and whether he’d want to go through that, who knows, but I don’t think Dana were to retire him if he loses a decision. If he gets knocked out, no question, Dana’s not going to allow him to fight in the UFC any more.”

STEVE COFIELD: “Can you get a feel for how the fans feel about Chuck Liddell? Does he still have star power? Do people still believe in? Obviously the event did well selling out because it’s a first-time event in Vancouver, but is there still the sizzle there with Liddell?”

KEVIN IOLE: “I think right now the guy sitting alone as the big star is Brock Lesnar, I don’t think there’s any question that he’s the number one man. But you know you look at Chuck and GSP, I think are right there at the next level as the most popular guys and you know it’s more like 1, 1A, and 1B and Chuck is still there and I saw i around town and I saw it with people the way they react to him, I mean the cluster that was around him in the media the other day, you know he’s still a big name, a big celebrity in this sport.”

STEVE COFIELD: “I’ll tell you, personally, last April sitting in front of Dana when he was very emotional and said hey that’s it, Chuck’s retired after the loss in Montreal… I kind of knew he was coming back simply because I don’t think it’s fair to tell a guy when he has to walk away, I think he gets to go out on his terms and Dana even pointed it out during the press conference yesterday, this was one of the guys who would be on the road back in ‘01 and ‘02 and ‘03 when no one cared the sport so he is owed at least this one last opportunity to do it right and try to go out with a win.”

KEVIN IOLE: “See, you know, I disagree with that statement, Steve, and the reason I do is you know this isn’t like baseball where you can go out and you know make a tour and you know Babe Ruth your last year where you hit .230 or something you know but you say goodbye to your fans. I mean this is a different thing because guys can get hurt doing this. And so I think you know I don’t think you take a chance and say, he’s owed anything. If you really feel that he’s at risk, at a greater risk you know, you know all the fighters are at risk, but if you feel in your heart of hearts that this guy is at a greater risk than anybody else, you don’t let him fight. I don’t care how good of a guy he is, what he’s done for the sport, you know you’re doing him a favor by saying you know we’re not going to let you fight. That I think is what they have to keep in mind, not only with Chuck but with everybody.”

STEVE COFIELD: “So do you think Dana has a little lack of objectivity here and that he’s been kind of swindled into giving him one more fight?”

KEVIN IOLE: “Well, I think you know I don’t think it’s a lack of objectivity, Steve, I think what it is is you know he looks closer at Chuck than he does anybody else because they’re so much friends and he sees him in great shape and so Chuck has done what he’s had to do, he’s gotten the body back. It reminds me a little bit of 1980, Muhammad Ali when he fought Larry Holmes. You know he came back and when he walked out they said look at the body, look at the body, he looked great you know but [it] ended up he was taking some pills that you know he was losing water weight, I think he had a diuretic if I’m not mistaken, but he certainly you know was not in the kind of condition to fight a top-level fight. You know Chuck looks better than Muhammad Ali did honestly, you know he got the makings of a six pack. He doesn’t have a six pack, but he has the makings. And that, you know, in Chuck’s career I don’t remember seeing that too much so you know he does look good, you know he looks thick, I saw him on Wednesday at the workouts and he was 211 pounds so he’s only six pounds over the Light Heavyweight limit at that point, so you know I think you know he’s done what he’s had to do so he’s given himself the best chance to perform.”

Topics: Boxing, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 7 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

7 Responses to “Kevin Iole compares Chuck Liddell in 2010 to Muhammad Ali in 1980 vs. Larry Holmes”

  1. EJ says:

    Iole needs to stop before he speaks because he’s sounding more ridiculous everytime out, that is a horrible comparison on all counts.

  2. Fluyid says:

    I’m not feeling the Ali comparison, but then again it sort of looks like something that Iole may have thrown out there in passing without much forethought.

    I actually can’t get a good handle on what I feel about Liddell’s state. We’ve seen him incredibly messed up during interviews and acting like a weirdo while watching fights and we’ve seen him look really bad in his last few fights. I’m guessing that a lot of people will be willing to overlook all of that if he performs halfway decently tonight, so that it can all be chalked up to “lifestyle,” whatever that means.

    Lifestyle = fixable by living more cleanly?
    Pugilistic Dementia = not

  3. David says:

    Can’t stand all these talking head YouTube videos. It’s one thing to have talking heads bull**ting about politics and the economy, but MMA… please!

    Zach, you know you’re better than that!

  4. David M says:

    Liddell is 40something and has no chin or reflexes left. He is going to get KO’d tonite, not that I care however, as this is one of the weakest card I can recall in years, maybe even weaker than Couture v Coleman in the artificial hip on a pole match..

  5. Zack says:

    Liddell won’t get KO’d. He’s going to shoot takedowns and win a decision.

    • Fluyid says:

      Bullshit. I feel pretty confident that Rich knocks him out in the first round.

      I’m feeling this very strongly.

  6. vampiro says:

    Why do you gotta bring Ali into this.
    totally irrelevent.
    Chuck Lidell has his own and can approach his carreer independtly without Dana White trying to change his diapers

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