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Still, when Ali came back to his corner his men stormed at him as he sat on his stool.
"What you doin'?"
"Why don't you dance?"
"You got to dance!"
"Stay off the ropes...."
Ali, looking across the ring, told them to shut up. "Don't talk. I know what I'm doing," he said.
The second and third rounds were carbon copies of the first exciting round though, as Dick Sadler pointed out later, very few of the ingredients of scientific boxing were involved. No countering, no feinting, no moving; simply the hugely terrifying and unique process of seeing a man slowly drained of his energy and resources by an opponent swaying on the ropes, giving him—as Angelo Dundee was to say later—"a lot of nothing."
In the third round, in the midst of continued tremendous pressure from Foreman, Ali hit him some concussive shots, staggering him, and suddenly everybody except Foreman seemed to understand not only the plan but that it was working almost inevitably. Ali's cornermen looked at him as if they were a trio of Professor Higginses looking at their Eliza for the first time.
The notion of fighting Foreman out of a defensive position, blocking and making his opponent slug and miss to the point of weariness, was an idea Ali had only toyed with back in his Deer Lake, Pa. training period earlier in the summer. Then in Africa, spying on the Foreman training sessions, he watched the dogged-ness with which the champion pursued his sparring partners, cutting the ring on them and perfecting this practice to such a degree that Ali realized far too great a percentage of his own strength and resources would have to be devoted to the simple process of escape. The Deer Lake tactics began to make more sense. Indeed, the only weakness attributed to Foreman was that he tended to get flustered and wild if things were not going exactly his way. Perhaps the surprise of Ali's defensive tactics would have this result. It seemed worth trying. If it did not work, if the Foreman punches seemed too devastating, Ali could always (if he survived) go back to the dancing techniques everyone expected.
Later, amidst the storm of excitement in his corner after the third round, he told Angelo Dundee that it seemed to be working, that Foreman's punches were acceptable ("They're not that bad") and he told his astonished trainer that he was going out to continue to let Foreman pound at him.