" Joe Frazier never could have fought a big, hard-hittin' 210-pound man for 10 rounds with a broken jaw," he said. "He's too muscledy. You got to be scientific and artistic enough to stall, keep the fight goin' and still protect yourself. My jaw hurt when I was showin' you that stuff, even."
A slim young man came in interrupting him. Someone had stolen the hubcaps from Ali's Rolls-Royce, one of the several luxury cars he owns.
"They gonna cost you $180 apiece to get new ones," he said, and Ali winced.
"Go get 'em and tell the man I'll pay him later," he said. He sipped at his soup again and returned to the fight.
"Didn't have a right hand after the sixth round," he said, holding out his hand and showing a swollen knuckle on the second finger. "Hit Norton a couple of shots on the head in the sixth and from then on it felt like I had arthritis in my hand, so I couldn't throw no punches with it. But I'm so great I still went on. I'm fighting with a broken jaw and a bad ankle and a sore hand and people say I look bad. But in that last round he looked bad."
He touched the jaw gently and shook his head in wonder at his greatness.
"Funny, the jaw didn't hurt so much in the fight," he said. "Under all the heat and the excitement, you don't feel it. Like a man in a street fight. He get cut in the stomach, fights on with his guts hangin' out and don't feel nothin' until he gets to the hospital."
Touching his jaw reminded Ali that he had made an appointment with a doctor for three o'clock. It was now nearly four and he called to cancel the visit.
"One good thing about it," he said after the call. "Took a broken jaw to let me stay home and enjoy my wife and my children. Now I lay around the house and play with my kids, work in the yard a little, help Belinda around the house, watch movies of my fights and cartoons. Otherwise, I'm all the time travelin', fightin' anybody, building up the boxing world. When I quit, it's going back to the same old slow, flat-footed thing it was before."
He slipped on his jacket, preparing to go home. Belinda, his wife, was preparing a dinner for two promoters from Indonesia, where Ali has a fight scheduled in July.