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Summary

  1. Challenger Muhammad Ali beats champion George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire
  2. Wins the world heavyweight title back at the age of 32 with eighth-round KO
  3. Ali invents new tactic of rope-a-dope to frustrate big-hitting Foreman
  4. Foreman, 25, went into fight with 37 KOs from 40 wins
  5. Hatton, Haye and Froch join Radio 5 live to analyse the fight

Live Reporting

By Ben Dirs

All times stated are UK

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That's all from us folks. Join us next May for live coverage of the 30th anniversary of Steve Davis v Dennis Taylor from the Crucible. No, seriously...

Jerry Izenberg, American boxing journalist: "About an hour after the fight finished we had such a torrential downpour. Then, suddenly, the sun came up - one of those big African sunrises - and we all jumped on a bus and went back to the military compound where all the journalists were staying.

"Three of us went to look for Ali and found him staring out at the river. Just staring. For once, three sportswriters had the good sense and brains not to open their damn mouths. We let him drink it in.

"Eventually he turned around, walked towards us, raised his arms in the air and said: 'You fellas will never know how much this means to me.' At that moment, he truly was the king of the world."

Well, who would have thought it? Muhammad Ali has won back the heavyweight world title, the greatest prize in sport, at the grand old age of 32; a seemingly invincible ogre has been bested; and we have surely witnessed the 20th Century's greatest piece of sporting theatre...

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Andy Hutchings: Foreman will be haunted by that loss for many years! For Ali, what can you say? #livinglegend

Colin Hart, British boxing journalist: "Watching the fifth and sixth rounds, you could see Foreman clearly getting weaker and weaker. He was still punching but the punches weren't hurting Ali like they were in the earlier rounds, he was running out of gas very fast indeed.

"And Ali was capitalising on it, as only he could, with brilliant counter-punching. It was around this time I thought: 'There's going to be a major upset here, my man's going to do it.' Foreman had shot his bolt by then, he had no strength left."

George Foreman: "I just couldn't believe I'd lost the world title. This was supposed to be an easy boxing match but it was the most embarrassing moment of my life. It went from pride to pity. That's devastating.

"I'd be ashamed to be alone with girls in a room. I'd think: 'They know I'm not the man I was supposed to be.' You think you're going to walk away with $5m and everything is going to be OK. But you can't buy back your pride. All you want is the chance to be champion of the world again.

I've watched the fight back a few times and sometimes I think: 'I'm gonna win this time!' Or I might wake up and think: 'If only I'd done this or done that.' But only once did I win the fight in my dreams…"

George Foreman is knocked out by Muhammad Ali
AP

Gene Kilroy, Ali's business manager: "I knew we had it after round six. Anybody can beat a heavy bag but when you're getting hit back, being frustrated and abused, it takes your heart away. Ali came to the corner after round six and said: 'I got him now, I got him now…'

"When the end came, Ali didn't hit him as he was falling. I asked him afterwards: 'Why didn't you hit him on the way down?' Ali said: 'He'd had enough.'"

Muhammad Ali: "I told you that I was the greatest of all time, I told you today I'm still the greatest of all time, never again say I'm going to be defeated, never again make me the underdog, until I'm about 50 years old, then you might get me..."

Muhammad Ali has won the world title back at 32! He took Foreman out for a ride and emptied his tank and it's pandemonium in the ring here, we've got half of Africa in the ring. And here comes the rain, which makes the whole scene seem somehow Biblical...

Carl Froch

World super-middleweight champion on BBC Radio 5 live

"Maybe you wish that was his last fight, looking back. My mum tells me that after fighting in front of 80,000 against George Groves at Wembley Stadium, anything you do now you're on the way down. Why would you want to risk it?

"I don't think anything else Ali did destroyed his legacy, he'll always be a legend, but that was the time to retire. I wish he did."

Ricky Hatton

Former two-weight world champion on BBC Radio 5 live

Muhammad Ali wins
AFP

"Boxing is not about being the biggest or strongest, you've got to have a game-plan, you've got to be a thinker - Ali won this with his brain.

"I'd have loved to have seen Muhammad retire there, that's Mount Everest three times over what he achieved there."

David Haye

Former world heavyweight champion on BBC Radio 5 live

"Ali had a great game-plan, George Foreman had a terrible game-plan, horrible. He set an unrealistic pace, no-one could fight at that ferocity for 15 rounds. He set off at 100m pace for a 1500m race."

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Tayyab Akhlaq: Wow what a finish! People will talk about this in 40 years' time.

Carl Froch

World super-middleweight champion on BBC Radio 5 live

"It was a left hook, straight right that did the job, after about four or five right hands. At least George Foreman can go home and when his head hits the pillow he can say: 'I gave it everything, it just wasn't good enough.'"

Ricky Hatton

Former two-weight world champion on BBC Radio 5 live

"For the all punishment Ali had taken, he'd not lost his speed. George's the technique had gone, you could have got anybody off the street to get what George was doing.

"Ali leaned back, landed a quick one-two - bang, bang - shifted him round with his palm, George fell over the ropes and that gave Ali the chance to put four punches together."

David Haye

Former world heavyweight champion on BBC Radio 5 live

Muhammad Ali knocks out George Foreman
AP

"Ali bided his time, waited for the right shot, waited for George to give him his chin. George was aimlessly flailing his arms out and Ali was toying with him, not focusing on power, just landing, always looking for the opening, eyes always wide open.

"He could have landed three punches but he didn't need to, he knew the job was done, he knew Foreman was finished."

BBC commentator Harry Carpenter: "Oh, he's got him with a right hand, oh you can't believe it… Ali's doing his shuffle and I don't think Foreman's going to get up… he's trying to beat the count… and he's out! Oh my God, he's won the title back at 32! He took on Foreman at his own game and he beat him at it!"

ALI WINS BY KNOCKOUT

Eighth round

George Foreman and Muhammad Ali
Getty Images
Ali stunned the world when he knocked out Foreman in the eighth

Foreman a heavy bag on unsteady wheels now and Ali is picking him off with spearing left jabs... Foreman with a big right to the head, two or three more are blocked... Foreman flailing around and Ali picks him off with short punches down the middle... Ali not throwing a great deal now, he looks tired as he lounges in the corner, Foreman flailing away at him... sneaky right from Ali, left, right, FOREMAN IS DOWN! FOREMAN IS DOWN! AND HE'S STAYED DOWN!

David Haye

Former world heavyweight champion on BBC Radio 5 live

"Ali is not known for being a big puncher but he has got speed and timing and that's all you need sometimes.

"Foreman's footwork is absolutely terrible. His legs are burning, his arms are full of lactic acid. George has used his second wind already, he has used his third wind. He is now just fighting on instinct."

Carl Froch

World super-middleweight champion on BBC Radio 5 live

"Ali is breathing heavy as well, but he is still composed. Foreman is almost stumbling in and falling over. Round five really was such a significant round. Since that round, Foreman seems to have totally blown a gasket.

"The writing is on the wall, it's only a matter of time before Foreman falls over and I've got to give that round to Ali, as close as it was."

Ricky Hatton

Former two-weight world champion on BBC Radio 5 live

"Now would be the time to say to Ali: 'Listen, start putting some meat behind the punches, because this fella doesn't look like he has got a leg under him now.' Ali looks like a lion in the long grass just waiting for his moment now.

"It's a hard round to score, because George was throwing punches and a lot of them were missing, but Ali's work-rate was terribly low."

Round seven

Muhammad Ali knocks down George Foreman
AP

The bell goes for the start of the round and Ali doesn't even bother making his way to the middle of the ring this time, he immediately assumes his position on the ropes. Ali grabbing Foreman's ample neck and pulling him down, Foreman still pawing with that right hand... both men look shattered now, as if fighting in sand... huge left on the walk from Foreman but nothing is getting to Ali, at no point has he looked unduly troubled...

David Haye

Former world heavyweight champion on BBC Radio 5 live

"Ali is not throwing as many punches but the punches he is throwing have a bit more meat behind them. He's thinking: 'I've tired George Foreman out, I don't need threes and fours and fives here, I need solid ones and twos.'

"Ali has probably got the fastest feet in boxing but he has not used any of that tonight. But Foreman is just emptying the tank, he is ready to go. He staggered back to that corner. That was a big round for Ali, he seems in complete control."

Carl Froch

World super-middleweight champion on BBC Radio 5 live

"Ali is not doing a great deal but Foreman looks half the fighter he was in the previous round and that's because of what Ali took out of him. There is absolutely no power in George's punches. Maybe Ali can do it…"

Ricky Hatton

Former two-weight world champion on BBC Radio 5 live

"George Foreman's work rate hasn't dropped one bit, he is still going, but you can see the snap has gone from his punches and he is staggering about the ring. His legs look like they have turned to jelly.

"Ali is just making him miss, making him miss and in the last 10 seconds, just when George stepped back and wanted to take a breather, Ali put his foot on the gas again. Can this dream come true? Is he going to do the unthinkable?"

Round six

Muhammad Ali lands a right cross on George Foreman
AP

The ropes were tightened up between rounds, presumably a member of Ali camp making sure their man doesn't end up in the press seats. Ali show no ill-effects from that pounding in the previous round and it's Foreman looking the wearier, falling into clinches, like a drunk man toppling into some shrubbery... more meat in Ali's punches now, and it's more educated work than Foreman's... Ali's trainer Angelo Dundee imploring his man to get off the ropes, and he does so towards the end of the round before threading together some wicked combinations... Ali's round, Foreman looks ground down...

Ricky Hatton

Former two-weight world champion on BBC Radio 5 live

"Ali started a little bit slower and barely threw a punch. The writing is on the wall for Ali here. He is not coming back with any counter and his legs are glued to the canvas. George is probably thinking: 'Ah-ha, I have got you now…'"

Carl Froch

World super-middleweight champion on BBC Radio 5 live

"Foreman was getting on top but Ali was still taunting him and soaking shots up. But shots are getting through, especially the body shots.

"Frightening, that's all I can say about that, you have got to score that round to Foreman. But Ali finished that round strong."

David Haye

Former world heavyweight champion on BBC Radio 5 live

"Foreman has started to loosen up a little bit, he is not looking as stiff as he did in the first four rounds.

"Ali is taking some vicious body shots here, his legs are stuck to the floor and he's not punching back. If you didn't know Foreman had had 40 professional fights, you'd be surprised if he'd had 40 amateur fights looking at some of the wild swings and misses. But I'd still give that round to Foreman."

Round five

Ali and Foreman
AFP

Ironically, light-heavyweight legend Archie Moore, in Foreman's corner tonight and who fought Ali in 1962, was a master at using the ropes to his advantage. But it's not working for Ali in this round, Foreman starting to take chunks out of Ali's defence now...

Ali not throwing anything here and there are gut-wrenching cries of "careful, Ali!" from an Englishman in the crowd. Foreman pouring it on now but these punches haven't got much heft behind them, they're arm punches, not much more...

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Paul Judge: I'm going for Foreman in the ninth - he looks hungry - Ali past it!

Carl Froch

World super-middleweight champion on BBC Radio 5 live

Muhammad Ali and George Foreman contest The Rumble in the Jungle
BBC Sport

"Unbelievable stuff really, it's compelling viewing. The longer this fight goes on, the more questions George will ask himself: 'What have I got to do?' I almost feel sorry for him."

Ricky Hatton

Former two-weight world champion on BBC Radio 5 live

"Muhammad Ali is breathing heavily here, he is not going to be able to take much more of this.

"This is unknown territory for George - he has had so many knockouts so early on, he probably doesn't know any better. But I would give that round to Foreman, his pressure and work-rate were good."

David Haye

Former world heavyweight champion on BBC Radio 5 live

"From the outside it looks like a suicide mission but in that ring, in the heat of the battle, Ali knows what he is doing. He looks cool, he looks calm, because Foreman is emptying the tank.

"If Ali is feeling that he can land his punches cleaner now than he could do in the first round it's going the right way for him. The quality punches were landed by Ali so I will go with Ali in that round."

Round four

Muhammad Ali fends off George Foreman
Getty Images

Foreman is in scary territory now, he hasn't been beyond the fourth round for three years. Let's see how that stamina stands up in this wilting heat. Ali starts at Foreman before putting on the breaks and moving back to the ropes again. Foreman staggered! Foreman staggered! Spearing right-hand lead by Ali and Foreman's right eye is puffing up. Foreman marching forward but all the clever work is coming from Ali, who is tying the champion up and scoring with razor-sharp combinations. It's looking grim now for Foreman, he looks like he might be spent already and there's a long way to the top of the mountain...

David Haye

Former world heavyweight champion on BBC Radio 5 live

"All Ali is doing is trying to stop Foreman landing clean. That's it. He was on the ropes, not worrying too much about what he was throwing, using the loose ropes to sway away from the punches.

"No-one practices missing punches, you are not conditioned to miss with punches. You are conditioned to land. So when someone makes you miss, you are running out of steam and you are getting disheartened.

"Everyone has told George that all he has got to do is land and the fight is over. He is the biggest punching heavyweight in history so why should he have to pick his punches? Just keep punching."

Ricky Hatton

Former two-weight world champion on BBC Radio 5 live

"Those top ropes do look a little bit loose. But it doesn't seem to be putting Foreman off. He's probably thinking: 'I'll get him, I'll get him, he can't stand much more of this.'

"George's punches are landing so they are scoring - but are they doing any damage? Probably not."

Carl Froch

World super-middleweight champion on BBC Radio 5 live

"Ali is landing and looks like he is taking control. You've got to score that round to Ali. But it's an even match, it could go either way."

Round three

George Foreman
Getty Images

Ali lands with a combination to Foreman's chops but immediately backs onto the ropes... big right from Foreman but many of the champion's punches are little more than paws... fast hands from Ali before Foreman lands with a horrible left to the body... left from Foreman, followed by a right, this is suicidal stuff from Ali... but still Ali talks to Foreman after crashing down on top of the champion... spearing left from Ali but Foreman stuns Ali with a savage left, perhaps the biggest punch of the fight so far... right-hand lead again from Ali towards the end of the round.

It's Foreman's body punches against Ali's speed, and at the moment Ali's speed is winning...

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Graham Bell: Great start by Ali, showing he won't be bullied. His hand speed is phenomenal.