The attendance, in an arena that can hold 66,000 for prizefights, was somewhat less than had been anticipated, but by no means meager. It surpassed by far the 23,306 who saw Henry Armstrong knocked out by Fritzie Zivic at Madison Square Garden in 1941 when they fought for the world welterweight championship. Until this week that had been the alltime indoor attendance record.
The bout in Houston may have earned another distinction—that of being watched by more fans than any prizefight before. It was seen, either directly or on delayed tape, in 46 foreign countries and it was shown on closed-circuit television at 125 locations in the U.S.
What millions learned was that Champion Muhammad Ali really does carry a substantial punch, and what they did not learn was whether Cleveland Williams, who at 33 is soon to be forgotten, ever had a true chance. He was bewildered so immediately by Ali's attack—resembling a band of Indians circling a wagon train and shooting flaming arrows into it—that he never did settle down long enough to throw the big one.
He will never have the opportunity again.