In the 2006 movie Rocky Balboa, the sixth installment in the Rocky series and the sequel to the 1990 film Rocky V, ESPN broadcast a computer-simulated fight between Rocky Balboa and Mason “The Line” Dixon, who was the reigning as the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world.
The simulated fight, in which Balboa defeats Dixon in a KO victory, grabs the world’s attention, ultimately inspiring Rocky to come out of retirement and fight Dixon for real.
What many don’t know, especially younger viewers is that this simulated bout is a modern-day version of what is referred to as The Super Fight.
It was a 1970 fictional boxing match between boxing greats Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali.
It was a conversation on the tip of every boxing fans’ tongue.
Firstly, Who is the greatest of all time?
What would happen if John L. Sullivan fought Lenox Lewis?
If Floyd Mayweather fought Mike Tyson?
If Rocky Marciano fought Muhammad Ali?
Well, in the late 1960s, one man decided to give the people what they wanted. It was these kinds of conversations happening in bars up and down America that were the impetus behind the creation of what eventually became The Super Fight. As well as the computerized sports industry as we know it today.
In 1967, radio producer Murray Woroner sent out a survey to 250 boxing experts and writers. This was in aid of determining which boxers would be used in a series of fantasy fights. They would be staged as radio plays with Woroner and famous radio announcer Guy LeBow acting as the commentators.
After a series of knockout rounds, Rocky Marciano eventually defeated Jack Dempsey in the final and was awarded a championship belt in real life, said to be worth $10,000.
However, it was a second-round fight between Muhammad Ali and Jim Jefferies that caused the most controversy.
Muhammad Ali, being Muhammad Ali, was certainly not happy with the prediction of a loss to Jim Jefferies in the second round of the fantasy series. He filed a one million dollar lawsuit against Woroner for defamation of character. The lawsuit was eventually forgotten when Woroner agreed to pay Ali $10,000.
Perhaps Woroner’s best move in this settlement was getting Ali to agree to participate in a filmed version of the fantasy fight against the series winner Rocky Marciano.
At this point in time, Marciano was 45 years old. He had been retired for 10 years. But he too was interested and agreed to take part.
He is rumored to have lost upwards of 50 pounds for the event. Marciano also wore a toupee in order to look like he did when in his prime.
Muhammad Ali was suspended by every boxing commission in the world at the time. This is after refusing to be inducted to the US army on moral grounds.
He was 27 years old. Ali should have been at the height of both his fighting and earning powers, so the allure of a paycheck was too much to turn down.
Every aspect of the fighters was taken into consideration – hitting power, ability to take a punch, defensive ability, susceptibility to cuts and ring control. Plus how each fighter reacted in various scenarios – and a blow by blow account was formed of what would happen if the two fighters were to actually enter the ring.
This detailed information was converted by programmers into an algorithm. It could be run through a computer and determine what would happen in hundreds of different variables.
And so, behind closed doors, the two fighters entered a warehouse in northern Miami. They sparred 72 one minute rounds over the course of a few days.
All of this footage was eventually edited down into a full fight. It would be screened across the United States of America, with many placing bets on the outcome in Las Vegas.
It is astonishing to think what a modern-day version of this fight would earn when considering how successful legendary boxer Christina Hammer has faired in the online casino in casinotopsonline.com. The event sold out in cinemas nationwide, with Marciano coming out as the eventual winner with a 13th round knockout.
Since then, various alternative endings have appeared online. In one, Ali wins by TKO with a bloody faced Marciano due to tomato ketchup, deemed unfit to continue in the 12th round.
The aftermath of the fight is multi-faceted. Despite being a financial success, Ali went on to describe the fight as “a sham” and a “Hollywood fake” on The Dick Cavett Show. Also raising questions over the result as well as how much input the computer actually had on the result.
In another way, The Super Fight inspired the entire world. It is in many ways the grandfather of every simulated sporting match up that has succeeded it.
Whatever your opinion is, The Super Fight took the world by storm. With there being no sign of technological advancement slowing. Therefore, it raises the question of what may be possible in the near future.