Did Norton Beat Ali? Muhammad Ali Gets Decision Over Ken Norton This Day September 28, 1976
- Ken Norton 217½ lbs
- Muhammad Ali 221 lbs
- UD 15
- Yankee Stadium
- Referee: Arthur Mercante 8-7
- Judge: Harold Lederman 8-7
- Judge: Barney Smith 8-7
- Unofficial AP scorecard: 9-6 Ali
Ali was an 8 to 5 betting favorite.
Ali said of Norton before the fight: “I’ll knock the sucker out inside five rounds.”
At the time of the third Ali-Norton bout, the last time a heavyweight champion lost the title by decision was when Max Baer lost a fifteen-round unanimous decision to Jim Braddock in 1935.
Ali was guaranteed $6 million plus 50% of all revenue over $9 million, and Norton was guaranteed $1 million plus 5% of all revenue.
The fight was shown on closed circuit television in 300 locations in the United States and Canada.
The live gate was announced as $3.5 million.
New York City police officers were on strike, leaving thousands of fans to police themselves. There were unruly mobs outside of Yankee Stadium, which promoter Bob Arum said created an atmosphere of chaos and terror, reducing the walk-up sales on fight night from the expected 10,000 to just 10. Though the attendance was announced at over 30,000, Arum said that was the pre-sale and only about 19,000 people actually made it into Yankee Stadium.
Norton said after the fight: “I won at least nine or ten rounds. I was robbed.”
Ali said after the fight: “I had just enough to win. I know I’m the winner.”
Ali said during an interview with Mark Cronin in October of 1976: “Kenny’s style is too difficult for me. I can’t beat him, and I sure don’t want to fight him again. I honestly thought he beat me in Yankee Stadium, but the judges gave it to me, and I’m grateful to them.”
The January 1998 issue of Boxing Monthly ranked Ali-Norton III as the fifth most disputed title fight decision in history.