Despite the beating about the head, Lyle was unmarked. "I could of gone 15," he said. "I don't know why the ref stopped it. This is for all the marbles, and a man deserves a full chance. This is the championship, not a four-round bout."
"Did you ever think you had Ali in trouble?" he was asked, and he shook his head. "No," he said. "I guess some of those shots looked good, but I didn't feel them in my hands. I never hit him a really good shot. You feel that when you do."
"He deserves another chance," Ali said. "Anybody comes up with the right money, he'll get one. That's what we fight for, the money." He spoke with the assurance of a man who had just made $1 million, his fee for this encounter, and had many more millions in prospect.
Ali felt the swelling under his eye, then went on. "Now I got to get ready for Joe Bugner," he said, looking toward his fight with the European heavyweight champion, scheduled for June 30 in Kuala Lumpur. "He's good. Fast, moves good, probably gonna win the first five, six rounds. Went 12 with me right here in Las Vegas. But I invented a whole new way of fighting. Save myself first five, six rounds, let the other man punch himself out. I didn't dance until maybe the sixth, seventh round tonight. I been dancing all the time, I'd a been dead by the 11th, but it wasn't me was dead, it was Lyle, cause he done all the work up to then. So I'll let Bugner go ahead and do all the work, too."
It was a familiar scene. But one can forget hoobie dust, bad water, deadly flowers, rope-a-dope, mirages and all the rest. AH continues to win quite simply because even at 33 he is still the best and smartest and quickest heavyweight in the world. As Bugner no doubt will discover in Kuala Lumpur.