I'm curious. He was 6'3, 206 pounds in the 1960s. Why didn't he pack a hard punch like someone like, say, Lennox Lewis, who was only two inches taller? Or even George Foreman who was an inch taller.
As far as weight goes, Joe Louis and Joe Frazier also weighed 203-206 but they were big punchers, but why wasn't Ali who weighed the same?
Powerful punching is about many factors timing technique delivery. Hitters like Foreman, Tyson Shavers seemed to have this power naturally & emanates from their natural instinct to fight on the offensive. I dabbled in Karate, Kung Fu years ago & was told when throwing a punch deliver it like you are punching through an opponent as opposed to just hitting them. I think Bruce Lee's philosophy was hit with meaning hence his apparent ability to deliver a 1" punch with immense power. My 5'8" 180lb Kung Fu teacher sent me flying demonstrating this punch which he explained was all about focus, using the hips & timing releasing all the energy at the point of impact & following through. Ali's style never leant itself to power but was more built around speed & combinations as much of the time he fought back pedalling whilst delivering lighting fast combinations an art in itself. As Foley has explained this can be just as effective as a method of dispatching an opponent & doing terrible damage with more stinging power, remember "float like a butterfly & sting like a Bee", just look at Frazier’s face following the 1st bout & he was the winner. Sure Ali was not a powerful puncher per say but more than compensated with his ability in other departments
Lennox was two inches taller and weighed in the 240-250 range. That's much bigger than Muhammad Ali. Lennox was always strong but he grew into a real muscular heavyweight.
This. Lennox fought during the weight-lifting era. He put on muscle to increase punching power. Whereas Lennox preferred power, Ali preferred speed. Ali kept himself trim and light so he could dance and maintain his trademark speed.
I did notice that Ali gradually went up in weight. He weighed 206 during the Sonny Liston rematch but was 212 when he knocked out Cleveland Williams.
As for power, Ali punched as he moved away, which drastically reduces the impact. When he planted his feet and threw punches, they obviously hurt more, as they did against Williams and in the first Frazier fight.
Also, Ali didn't throw many power punches. He relied on the jab and straight right. Those are arm punches, plus he threw them as he retreated which further reduced the impact. Had he planted his feet and threw hooks and uppercuts, he would have hurt much more.
As others have said, it was the culmination of his flurries that would wear you down.
Right. Larry Holmes was the same way. More emphasis on speed and jab than on power. I think Shannon Briggs and Evander Holyfield had both down pat. They were good boxers with good speed on hand and feet but they can slug, especially Shannon. Shannon was to me a cross between the Ali/Holmes school with the modern bulk and power of the Tyson/Lewis generation. But he lacked the skills of any of the four.
Ali did all the wrong things to pack a mean punch. Joe Louis and Evander Holyfield were smaller than Ali but they punched noticeably harder because they kept their feet planted firm and unloaded with the proper snap and leverage. Even Floyd Patterson could fight as a slugger.
Despite weight, you can't compare Ali to someone like Frazier in terms of power. Frazier had short muscular arms. When he gets close and lands a hook or an uppercut it'll shatter ya. Ali had long arms so he stuck to long range punches that don't do a lot of physical damage but accumulative damage.
If you hit a man while you're standing on your toes, you ain't gonna hurt em'. You need leverage, a sense of distance and proper shoulder snap.
But I think the Muhammad Ali style was more about footwork, speed and ring generalship than about hard hitting. Anyone else notice that most of the Muhammad Ali wannabes that came along later (Holmes, Biggs, Nicholson, Tillis, Byrd, etc) also couldn't punch worth a damn?