"I never heard of no dude like that," Spinks said. "Hang up."
In his room, Ali sprawled on his bed in a striped dressing gown and talked to anyone who came in. The door was wide open. No one was turned back.
A visitor said, "Hey, champ...."
"Don't call me champ," Ali said. "He's the champ. You don't have to call me champ to be my friend. I shall return. I'll let him hold the title for a few months and enjoy it. Then I shall return."
In other parts of the hotel, plans were being drawn for Spinks' future, if not Ali's. Bob Arum, who had promoted the fight, has a contract to stage Spinks' next three fights, and an option for three more. The hotel was flooded with possible opponents: Kenny Norton and Jimmy Young, Larry Holmes and Earnie Shavers. And with negotiators from Manila and Iran, Hong Kong and the Ivory Coast. The WBC was demanding that Spinks give Norton the first shot.
"I think right now it looks like an easy opponent in May and then Norton in September," Arum said. "Unless, of course, Ali wants a return match. We have a contract with CBS for Spinks' next fight and the funds are not sufficient for a Norton fight. So Norton will be later—unless Ali is serious. There is no return contract, but Leon wants to fight him again. I think we'd be ingrates if Ali wanted to come back and somebody said no. I would feel lousy, and Leon really loves the guy. But I don't know. Do you think Ali will want to fight again?"
The answer was a resounding yes.
Late Friday night, two days after the fight, Leon Spinks stood at his hotel room window, staring out at the lights of Las Vegas.
"The thing I don't like," he said, "is people calling me the greatest. I am not the greatest. I may be the best young heavyweight, but he was the greatest. And he is still the greatest.
"I was very serious during the fight," he said, "but I also had a lot of fun. He kept saying things to me, trying to make me mad, but all he did was make me laugh. It was like he was telling me jokes. One time he called me a dirty name. I said, 'Oh, Ali, how could you say such a thing?' Can you imagine your idol calling you a dirty name?"