For both Frazier and Ali, a sense of finality creeps into their words as the bout nears. "This is a big gatherin'," says Frazier. "And I don't like big gatherins. It's like when we were all back home in South Carolina, and all of us, all the relatives, would be havin' a fish fry in the backyard, and everybody would be laughin', but my momma would be sittin' there lookin' sadly out. She didn't like big gatherins. Big gatherins mean death."
Lost in a long silence, Ali comes out of it and suddenly says in a barely audible voice, "I'm goin' to have another test soon. It's time. Things have been goin' too good lately. Allah must make me pay for my fame and power. Somebody may shoot me, who knows? I might be kidnapped and told to renounce the Muslims publicly—or else. O.K., shoot me, I'll have to say. I feel somethin' out there. My little boy might die. He might get run over by a car the day before the fight. Allah's always testin' you. He don't let you get great for nothin'. It ain't no accident I'm the greatest man in the world." Then he looks at those ships in the bay, and who knows what wondrous and strange things are gliding through so unpredictable a mind. Only this is certain now: ahead lies the hatred of Joe Frazier, and Ali must journey through it. And it is a trip that few men should wish to make.