Muhammad Ali Stops Jimmy Ellis This Day July 26, 1971
Muhammad Ali’s 1st fight after losing to “Smokin” Joe Frazier
Muhammad Ali 220½ lbs
Jimmy Ellis 189 lbs
TKO at 2:10 in round 12 of 12
Location: Astrodome, Houston, Texas, USA
Referee: Jay Edson 110-93
Judge: Earl Keel 108-102
Judge: Ernie Taylor 107-104
NABF Heavyweight Title (Vacant title)
Ali and Ellis were both from Louisville, Kentucky, and fought each other twice as amateurs. Ali won the first bout, and Ellis won the second.
Ellis was a sparring partner for Ali in the 1960s.
This was Ali’s first fight since he lost to Joe Frazier on March 8, 1971. Ellis had won three straight bouts since he lost to Frazier on February 16, 1970.
On June 28, 1971, the United States Supreme Court overturned Ali’s 1967 conviction for draft evasion. In an unsigned 8-0 opinion, the court said the Justice Department ignored the findings of its hearing officer, who recommended that Ali be classified as a conscientious objector. Ali, who was in training for the fight against Ellis, said, “I thank the Supreme Court for recognizing the sincerity of my belief in myself and my convictions.”
Ali was guaranteed $450,000 against an option of 45% of all income, and Ellis was guaranteed 20% of all income.
The fight was shown on closed-circuit television in about 200 locations in the United States and Canada, and it was beamed via satellite to 34 other countries.
Attendance in the Astrodome was 31,947.
Angelo Dundee worked with Ellis for the fight. He was Ali’s trainer, but he was Ellis’ trainer and manager. Working with Ellis meant a bigger share of the purse for Dundee. Ali understood completely and got Harry Wiley, who had worked with Henry Armstrong and Sugar Ray Robinson, to be his trainer for the Ellis fight.
Ali and Ellis fought for the vacant NABF heavyweight title, which had been relinquished by George Foreman.
Ali was a 7 to 2 favorite.
Assistant trainer Drew (Bundini) Brown forgot to pack Ali’s trunks, and the former champ was forced to wear a pair of all white trunks that were too big.
It was a fairly even fight for the first three rounds, but Ali took control after hurting Ellis with a right hand in the fourth round. Ellis said the right hand “hurt me so bad I couldn’t really fight my best after that.”
The referee stopped the fight at 2:10 of the 12th round with Ellis on his feet taking punishment. There were no knockdowns in the fight.