Laila took mat as the blessing she wanted. "I think my dad is pleased I'm an independent thinker," she says, "but if he could program my brain not to be a fighter, he would."
The brain of the lumpy, dumpy Fowler seemed to have been preprogrammed. A 27-year-old waitress at Ye Olde Benny's steak house in Michigan City, Ind., her lone ring credential was another one-round knockout suffered 18 months ago. "I got counted out," she recalled. "I was getting paid the same whether I got up or stayed down, so I stayed down."
Much of Fowler's recent sparring had been with her ex-husband. "It was verbal," she said. "The divorce was, whatchacall, amicable."
Her boxing style is, whatchacall, abominable. At the bell Fowler made a timid rush at Ali, flailing feebly with her head turned and eyes shut. Ali backed her up with straight jabs, then unloaded a combination that left her quivering like tapioca in a high wind. "Being a waitress is more fun than being a fighter," Fowler said. "Once I got a $117 tip."
Here's a better one: Get out of boxing,