Ali sat comfortably in his dressing room watching on TV as 27-year-old Jimmy Young, ranked No. 2 among heavyweight contenders by Ring Magazine, slapped and struggled his way to a 10-round decision over Joe (King) Roman. Scheduled for Costa Rica in late April, Ali-Young also will be a home TV bout. The question is whether it will be as dull as the Coopman fight. Some in San Juan thought so. Said one witness, "Not only could Young not take out Roman, a man who lasted two-thirds of a round with Foreman, he couldn't take out his wife for dinner." But Angelo Dundee, Ali's trainer, foresees no repeat of the Coopman debacle. "Young beats Coopman easy," Dundee says. "The guy's a boxer." Young's most luminous wins have been over British champ Richard Dunn and Venezuela's Jose Luis Garcia, but the victory that put him in the contender's seat was a 10-round upset of Ron Lyle a year ago. "Young's a stand-up guy," says Dundee, "and he leans slightly to his left so he always appears to be lopsided. He's what I call a cute fighter. Not great, but a threat."
DUNDEE'S VIEW OF THE BEST OF THE REST
No. 1 KEN NORTON, 30
He is one of the two living humans who have beaten Ali, so he knows something about him. Fights like Archie Moore—-peek-a-boo with his arms across his face. Best punch is a left hook to the body and head. With his right he slaps with an open glove. I call his style a stutter-style, and he's so big and strong, you got to take it to him. Good fighter. Dangerous.
No. 3 JOE FRAZIER, 32
Still the second-best active heavyweight. What can you say? Frazier had one misfortune: he came along at the same time as Ali.
No. 4 GEORGE FOREMAN, 28
He's got to get rid of the stigma from the Lyle fight in January. Still the hardest-punching heavyweight. If he could learn to box he could regain the title after Ali's gone.
No. 5 RON LYLE, 32
A very strong guy. Not as easy to hit as most people think. Quicker than he looks. He came within an eyelash of beating Foreman and fought well against Ali last May.
No. 6 EARNIE SHAVERS, 30
Beaten by Lyle and Jerry Quarry. Last victory was over Oliver Wright. He can hit you with any kind of shot and get you out of there. If he hits you. I call him a go/no-go guy. Either he goes or you go.
No. 7 DUANE BOBICK, 25
Had a tough time living down the Olympic loss to Teofilo Stevenson, and that's shaken his confidence. But he's big and he's smart. He'll fight for the title one of these days.
No. 8 JOE BUGNER, 25
I think he could be champ someday, though people think I'm insane.
No. 9 CHUCK WEPNER, 35
What you see is what you get. He came out of his fight with Ali smelling like flowers. Age is against him, and he does a lot of busting up. But whoever did more busting up than Carmen Basilio?
No. 10 LARRY HOLMES, 24
Lost to Bobick in the 1972 Olympic try-outs and has kept a low profile. Good boxer, good puncher. Has not had to take punishment yet.