In 1979, Muhammad beat Marvin Johnson for the aforementioned world title he went on to successfully defend on eight separate occasions. His legendary ring wars saw him make comebacks time and again after being on the brink of defeat. The Ring magazine named the title-winning effort against Johnson its “35th Greatest Fight of All Time.” In his second fight against Johnson in 1979, the eighth round was named “Round of the Year.” His 1980 title defense against Yaqui Lopez was named “Fight of the Year” by The Ring magazine and also its 84th “Greatest Fight of all Time.” The eighth round of that fight was also given “Round of the Year” distinction and eighth “Greatest Round of All Time.”
In 1998, Matthew Saad Muhammad was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Muhammad, a TV-friendly fighter if there ever was one, was known for his legendary wars with other light heavyweight legends like Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Billy Douglas, Lopez, Murray Sutherland, Dwight Muhammad Qawi and Johnson.
While Muhammad had a legendary, Hall of Fame career, he should also be remembered as a champion out of the ring. From a very difficult start in life, he rose from being abandoned and living on the streets to becoming a world champion. He was the ultimate in-ring example of heart and toughness. Matthew Saad Muhammad, former 175-pound slugger and world champion, died at the all-too-young age of 59 from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Gone but never forgotten.
Rest in peace, champ!
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