Story: A constant source of debate in sports of all kinds is the question of who is the best ever, from football to to horseraces to mixed martial arts, this always seems to be a hot button question that everyone has their own answer for. Perhaps no sport has ignited more debates about who is the best than professional boxing and who is the greatest heavyweight champion of all time. While some of the heavy hitters were active at the same time and we could settle some feuds that way, there remains a wealth of impossible dream matches, which hold the answer to that immortal question. In the late 1960s, the emergence of computers offered an alternative of sorts, as one could feed stats and records into a computer and have the technology analyze those stats, to speculate who would win in those long discussed dream matches. A fantasy tournament was arranged and played on the radio, but who would win this clash of all time titans?
Entertainment Value: The premise here is commonplace decades later, but using a computer to simulate fantasy boxing matches must have seemed like science fiction at the time, not only enticing radio listeners, but eventually audiences in movie theaters. Rocky Marciano would win the fantasy boxing tournament and that garnered a lot of attention, some of which was negative, as Muhammed Ali was displeased he lost before he even reached the finals. Ali would sue the producer for defamation and out of that court case, The Super Fight was born. Marciano and Ali would have their chance in the ring, both in the computer simulation and in a sparring session, to determine the ultimate greatest. The two would meet in the ring and the presentation was if the two were really boxing, but they’re just sparring and that is pretty evident. It is still wild to see the two legends square off like this and thanks to the simulation, it is at least a fairly accurate look at what might have been.
The distribution concept here was quite remarkable, as the program was shown once in theaters, then the prints were collected and destroyed. Some owners tried to hang on to the prints to further cash in, but that didn’t last. The Super Fight was also shown once on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, then never shown in public again and the last surviving print was turned over to the Library of Congress, where it remained until 2005. Now fans can revisit or experience this curio for the first time, as Marciano and Ali put on a little clinic for the audience. The entire fight is available, complete with between round run downs by the computer simulation and after the main event, you can watch a feature length documentary on how this interesting premise was realized. The disc release also has 15 hours of the original radio broadcasts on the fantasy matches and some boxing expert interviews. This is a very interesting curio that has interest even beyond the squared circle’s fans, so it is well recommended.
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