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"One time I knocked him down with a left hook," he said. "Everybody talk about how hard I hit with the right, but I hit just as hard with the left. Then the other time I took a step to the left to get away from his jab and I came right down the pipe with the right hand and down he go. People say he got the reach on me but I can lay it on him, reach or no reach. It ain't the reach, it's what you do with it."
He watched Ali, now sparring his last round of the afternoon, up on his toes, moving around with the old dancer's skill. It was the first time he had done that.
Ali looked very good at the moment, moving around the ring quickly, darting in and out, hitting accurately and hard.
"Somebody ask me do I hate him, is this a grudge fight," Ellis said. "We professionals. I don't hate him, he don't hate me. But he's in my way and I got to get him out of the way to get the championship and that's what I'm gonna do next week."
Maybe he will. The fight for him is an obsession, the culmination of years of frustration, and he is superbly prepared for it. Despite what Ali says, he misses Dundee and the men who work with Dundee. And this fight is no earth-shaking matter for him.
When the 20-round afternoon was over, Ali talked for a while to writers in his dressing room, then showered and returned to the Astroworld motel. He went into the coffee shop and sat down and drank a ginger ale, looking tired and serious. The act was over.
"Youth," he said. (He is 29.) "Youth is the time of blossoming, the fullness of energy. It's the time of errors and faults and the time when you can run four, five miles and never be tired. You're full of the intoxication of youth."
He crossed his arms on the table top and put his head down on them and talked very softly.
"I'm very tired now," he said. "I think I'll take tomorrow off and just rest. Used to be, I'd get up at six o'clock in the morning, run six miles, come back to my room and lie down and rest a few minutes, then go down in the lobby and mix with the people, then go work out in the gym and rest a little more and then I'd be out on the streets, talking with everybody and walking around and go to bed maybe eleven o'clock at night."