Were courage and condition the only criteria in boxing. George Chuvalo would have to be favored over Clay. Here, with no traces of modesty, the Canadian tells Sports Illustrated's Morton Sharnik how he plans to win a knighthood.
I'm a legitimate contender. I'm ranked in the top 10. Doug Jones was next in line after Terrell, and I beat him, knocked him out. I'm tough and I'm strong, and I have been waiting for 10 years to get a title shot. And Clay owes me a fight. He ran out on a contract to fight me November 8, 1963.
Getting the fight the way I did doesn't embarrass me. I am just thankful that I have the chance. This is all I have thought about for the last few years. I dream about this constantly, seldom in my sleep but while I am lying on the table before a fight or after a workout.
I suppose I could win a decision over Clay, but that isn't likely. When I see myself, I am always standing over him. I plan to put pressure on Clay from the first bell and never let up. The hardest part of the fight for me will be the first 10 rounds. After that he will be worn down. I am strong, my stamina is exceptional. Fifteen rounds is no problem for me. It is for Clay. That's the key, my strength and stamina against his speed. By the 12th round he will be in trouble, and then I will take him out.
I'm not a dirty fighter like some people claim. They accuse me of butting, but I have never done that purposely (at least not consciously). I learned early to keep my head low, and since most of my opponents are taller than me they sometimes get bumped by my head, but it has happened to me, and I accept it as an accident.
Sure I'm a rough fighter. First of all, I like to fight in close. There's more body contact, and the fight has a different feeling at this range. When I am in close I feel that I am the boss, and I try to make sure that my opponent knows it.
I will treat Clay as roughly as I can whenever I can. My aim is to impose my will over him. I know Clay respects me. He knows that I won't be shook up by being in the ring with him, so this won't be as difficult as it sounds. I think Clay will quit if he is hurt, and I intend to hurt him.
In Lewiston I yelled at Clay. I felt in my own mind that he knew he did not hit Liston with a good shot, and there he was, strutting like a peacock. It upset me, and I wanted to fight him right then.
Clay is not what the public thinks he is. Essentially, he is a very nice guy. I like him but that won't stop me in the ring. I'll tell myself I hate Clay because he is standing in my way.
I don't think the term white hope has any meaning today. People don't care if a fighter is white or black. They just want to see Clay knocked off. They resent Clay as a person, as an individual, not because of his color. Look at Patterson. Everyone rooted for Floyd. I don't want to be a white hope. It's silly and it's embarrassing.