Prime Ali vs Deontay Wilder – Who Would Win?

Ali. Without a doubt in my mind, Ali wouldn’t have had much trouble dismantling Wilder in his prime. Deontay Wilder is a fearsome puncher but Ali faced a plethora of hard punchers during his campaign of the ring with far superior boxing skills than Wilder.

I’m actually surprised how often these two are compared. I doubt this would have been much of a spectacle, rather a one-sided boxing masterclass from Ali. This match-up would be skill and speed vs blunt power. Ali had fast hands, good power, and unbelievable movement. This combined with his massive heart makes any match-up with a one-dimensional puncher redundant.

In terms of skill, the two are worlds apart, Ali was a pure boxer, he moved like a featherweight, could slip punches by a millimeter, and had lightning-fast hands and feet. Wilder definitely is the harder hitter but so simple when compared to someone with as much boxing finesse as Ali.

After a quick re-watch of their fights back-to-back, I think its clear to see how and why Ali would come out on top. Wilder struggled to find his target in his first fight with Tyson Fury, who is much bigger and heavier than Ali. With someone with reflexes like Ali in his prime, I doubt that right hand would have even come close. However, Wilder does have size on his side. Standing at 6 ft 7″ he is taller than anyone Ali ever faced.

That being said, I think Ali would win by TKO inside 6 rounds. Wilder has the height, range, weight, and power on his side but the I imagine the skill difference would be incredibly visible throughout the fight.

How Muhammad Ali would win

NameMuhammed Ali
AliasThe Greatest
Height6ft 3″

A fundamental part of Ali’s game plan against his opponents was mind games. Most people will disregard this as trivial entertainment but for fighters like Ali, his infamous trash talk helped him greatly throughout his career. I don’t think that anyone could remain unphased by Ali’s antics, as well as providing great entertainment, he would get inside his opponent’s heads. Ali would’ve wound up Wilder so much in the build-up that he’d likely fall victim to the mind games which would prevent anyone from boxing strategically.

As a fighter, Ali’s strengths were his reflexes, speed, and movement. He moved very well laterally and would’ve probably danced around to keep Wilder at range while throwing his snapping jab. Wilder’s looping punches also would create many opportunities for someone as accurate and quick as Ali to counter-punch his way to victory.

If Wilder were to punch himself out, which I think would be the most likely scenario, Ali’s flurry punches could probably score him a TKO. However, a perfectly timed counter, similar to the infamous “phantom punch” that Ali used to put down Sonny Liston in their second fight, could be another possibility. But Wilder has shown quite a good chin against big punchers so I think this is a less likely outcome against a 215lb boxer.

In terms of disadvantages in this match-up for Ali, I struggle to see any. He faced so many accurate and aggressive punchers, I feel that he would have made light work of Wilder. If Wilder, were able to land a clean right hand against Ali, which I very much doubt, I can’t guess how much it would hurt him. Ali had an incredible chin but more importantly, he had a massive heart, he’d never quit. If he got knocked down he wouldn’t stay down.

Muhammad Ali’s competition and notable wins

Comparing their accolades is just as pointless as comparing their skills, Ali is a 3-time undisputed heavyweight champion, who faced over 30 ranked opponents in arguably the most difficult era of heavyweight boxing. He defended his title 19 times and beat several hall of fame fighters. His resume and career are among the most polished and illustrious in the entire history of boxing.

Notable wins:

  • Archie Moore
  • Sonny Liston
  • Joe Frazier
  • Larry Holmes
  • Floyd Patterson
  • George Foreman
  • Bob Foster
  • Cleveland Williams
  • Ken Norton
  • Zora Folley
  • Henry Cooper
  • Ernie Terrell
  • Jimmy Ellis
  • Karl Mildenberger
  • Oscar Bonavena
  • Jerry Quarry
  • Ron Lyle
  • Joe Bugner
  • Doug Jones
  • Jimmy Young
  • Mac Foster
  • Earnie Shavers
  • Joe Bugner
  • Leon Spinks

How Deontay Wilder would win

NameDeontay Wilder
AliasThe Bronze Bomber
Height6ft 7″

Like most people, I’d give Wilder a slim chance in this fight. He has punchers-chance but with someone like Ali, I don’t see what Wilder could do other than pray for a perfect right hand. There wouldn’t be much of a point to box strategically for Wilder, he usually uses his jab to gauge distance and waits for his opponents to walk onto a right hand. But Ali’s technical prowess and agility let him dance around some of the most fearsome and technical punchers ever, so I assume he’d be able to do the same to Wilder. The only strategy for Wilder would be to swing every round and hope he’s able to catch and hurt Ali.

Deontay Wilder’s competition and notable wins

In terms of the competition faced, the two aren’t really comparable. Aside from Tyson Fury, who I thought comfortably beat Wilder in all three fights, Wilder hasn’t faced any greats. Wilder will now be looking at facing the likes of Anthony Joshua, Dillian Whyte, Andy Ruiz Jr, and Oleksandr Uysk.

Notable wins:

  • Luis Ortiz (2x)
  • Bermine Stiverne (2x)
  • Domic Breazile
  • Chris Aerola
  • Malik Scott


Some fans might argue that comparing these two is pointless, and for the most part, I’d agree. They are from different eras, they have incredibly different styles, and their skills are worlds apart. But the question isn’t uncommon and for a new boxing fan, it isn’t unreasonable, especially considering how few people in the modern era have actually watched Ali’s fights. He’s more of an icon than a highlight reel to younger generations, but if you were curious about this fantasy fight, I hope the analysis helped. In conclusion, I think they were both top fighters in their own respect but there is a reason why Ali will always be remembered as the greatest.

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