Psychic signals are beaming in regularly to Albuquerque's Agonistes Ramu, the self-proclaimed seer who correctly predicted that three balloonists would waft safely across the Atlantic. While watching television one day last week, Ramu saw an aura around Muhammad Ali's head and got another hot flash. " Ali will definitely win back the title," says Ramu. "You can count on it. The spiritual forces don't like Leon Spinks and want him out of there." But the vision was even more precise than that: " Ali will have problems for the first four rounds. Then he will start to act in Round 5—and he'll win the fight by a knockout in the eighth round." Goodness sakes, that's some kind of fancy aura; can one bet it? "Maybe it'll be a TKO," hedges Ramu.
Other folks interested in the fight couldn't see the aura no matter how hard they squinted. But they had visions of their own:
Willie Pep, former world featherweight champion—" Ali will lick the guy. Spinks just doesn't have enough savvy."
Bill Cayton, fight historian and filmmaker—"At his peak. Ali was greater and faster than anyone, but he's lost his skill and reflexes. He might be able to put it together for this fight, but I don't think so."
Carlos Palomino, WBC world welterweight champion—"I have to go with Ali. I think he's working to get the title back and he'll do it in this one."
Ken Norton, briefly the WBC world heavyweight champion, now No. 2-ranked contender—" Ali has to overpower you with jabs and combinations to win. More he works, better he'll be. I think Ali will win."
Carlos Monzon, retired world middleweight champion—"Champions like Ali, unique in history, must seriously consider if it's so important to risk so much glory for money in so uncertain a business. I think Ali will win, if only to allow himself the pleasure of being champion once again."
Cus D'Amato, veteran trainer and manager of Floyd Patterson, among others—"The fight will be a contest of will rather than skill: two billy goats battering one another. If Ali finds the drive—and he just might—he can beat Spinks."
Joe Frazier, former world heavyweight champion—" Spinks isn't capable of dealing Ali out. He doesn't have the experience. With the knowledge and ability Ali has, it's no problem."
John Tate, No. 7-ranked heavyweight—"With Leon's youth, I think he has the edge. Ali is the better fighter, but Spinks has the stamina, and if he's hungry, well, that's it."