Friday Night Fights I: Lyle Alzado vs. Muhammad Ali, 1979

We’re beginning a new feature at Pro Football Daly: Friday Night Fights. It’s a series of boxing or wrestling matches involving pro football players — and sometimes, if we’re lucky, brawling with each other.

Let’s start with a classic July 1979 matchup between Lyle Alzado, the Broncos’ wild man of a defensive end, and Muhammad Ali at (the old) Mile High Stadium This was the year after Ali won his rematch with Leon Spinks to reclaim the heavyweight title for the last time (after which he said he was retired, not that anyone believed him).

Both men had a gift for gab, so the pre-fight talk was particularly entertaining. Ali, as you might expect, didn’t take Alzado too seriously:

Alzado, meanwhile, climbed into the ring with a confidence of a 6-foot-3, 255-pound bruiser (though he reportedly weighed in at 243):

Alzado was toying with the idea of becoming a boxer but eventually came to his senses. (Later that summer, he walked out of the Broncos’ camp and forced a trade to the Browns.)

His fight against Ali was billed as an eight-round exhibition — with no scoring, as you heard Lyle mention. Still, there were some decent shots landed.

And Dick Schaap, who complemented Sam Nover’s blow-by-blow, was in top form. Some of his better lines:

“There are quarterbacks all over the country who are rooting for Muhammad Ali today.”

“[Alzado] can now say that he’s the first man to sack Joe Namath and smack Muhammad Ali.”

And: “Alzado is ahead on smirks.”

I just heard the bell for Round 1. . .