Not quite like his uncle

Zach Mills

He didn’t quite dance around as much as his uncle.

And he didn’t knock his opponent to the canvas in the first minute of the first round, like his uncle did in 1965 against former Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston.

As a matter of fact, not much about Ibn Ali’s boxing style seemed to resemble either a floating butterfly or a stinging bee.

But at 7 p.m. last Friday night, the 23-year-old Louisville native’s last name alone managed to round up community members and several celebrities at Bowling Green’s Sloan Convention Center.

The event featured six Kentucky fighters who fought out of the blue corner. All six came out of the ring with victories.

“It feels great,” Ali said about coming to fight in Bowling Green. “Bowling Green has some great fans. The reception has been wonderful here.”

Bowling Green fan Dick Dumond was one of many locals who came out to see Ali.

“We came for the name,” Dumond said minutes before the match. “He’s gonna take it. He better. I’m gonna get in the ring with him if he don’t.”

Dumond brought along his grandson, 15-year-old Josh Underwood, a sophomore at Warren Central High School.

The great Muhammad Ali inspired Underwood to pursue professional boxing.

“The Ali fights got me interested in (boxing), just from the way he fights.

“He had the attitude that he was on top,” he said.

Dumond is supportive of his grandson’s desire to become a boxer and said he intends to take him to a gym next week to begin training.

“After tonight, we’ll see what he feels like,” he said laughing.

Before the fight, the young Ali, who carried a more mild manner unlike his uncle’s famed cocky, trash-talking tone, said he was expecting to do fair.

“You train hard for a fight,” he said. “All I can do is fight the way I’ve been trained to fight and go in there and just let it out.”

The fight between Ali and Kevin Miller, of Horse Cave, was scheduled for six rounds. But they only fought three before Miller’s bloody nose and “ringing ears,” forced him to throw in the towel.

Ali attributed his victory to proper execution.

“I went in and stuck to my game plan,” he said. “I threw my jab like I wanted to and threw some good ‘right hands’ just like I was supposed to, which hurt him and caused him to bleed.”

The victory was Ali’s fourth professional win.

Seconds after the bell rang, ending Ali’s fight, the crowd began to “boo.”

Dennis Weis, of Bowling Green, was one of the disappointed fans.

“I thought it was pretty sad,” Weis said. “I don’t think Ali looked good at all. I enjoyed the girls though,” he said laughing as he referred to the scantily clad woman who had been holding up signs distinguishing between rounds.

Former heavyweight champs Jimmy Ellis and Ernie Terrell were in the house last Friday night as well.

Both men fought against Muhammad Ali, and are helping his nephew develop as a fighter.

Terrell is portrayed in the 2001 movie, “Ali,” as the fighter who refused to call “Cassius Clay,” Muhammad Ali.

Terrell explained why he thinks many people were disappointed after the younger Ali’s fight.

“What television does to boxing is they want big names and they want to put you out there too quick,” he said. “So they expect too much.”

Terrell drew on his experience as a boxer to critique the young Ali’s fight.

“The styles didn’t complement each other,” Terrell said. “He’s got a lot of work to do. It takes you a while to learn how to fight.

“He’s not Muhammad Ali.”

Ellis has taken an active role in helping Ibn Ali ‘put it all together.’

“I’ve been working with him sometimes and showing him different things,” he said. “He’s been doing pretty good.”

Ali’s fight against Miller was his sixth professional fight in about a six-month period.

“I’ve been moving pretty fast,” Ali said.

Ali’s manager, Howard Gosser, said he has had to move fast since he hadn’t had an amateur career and just started training at the age of 21.

“He started late,” Terrell said. “He’ll be there, but see, you can’t rush being an Ali. Muhammad started at age 12.”

Terrell has noticed a characteristic about the young Ali that resembles his uncle.

“He’s got the talk, he can do that,” Terrell said. “He’s performing more than he’s fighting. He’s looking in the audience to see who’s watching him. He’s constantly talking to somebody out there.”

Among some of the other celebrities present at the convention center last Friday was R&B singer Athena Cage.

Cage is a native of Russellville and Western graduate. She sang the national anthem before the fights, and said she thinks last Friday night’s event will do big things for the city of Bowling Green.

“I think in terms of bringing sports to communities, it’s a great thing,” she said. “And I think it just puts Bowling Green on the map and is beginning to show people that we have fighters, we have singers, we have rappers, we have, you know, a lot of heritage here.”

Bowling Green junior Jess Ford went to the fight with his father

“It was my first boxing match,” Ford said. “The crowd was very interesting.

Ford said he enjoyed the Ali fight and hopes that the event will “help bring more athletic events to the city in the future.”

Steve Small, director of sports for the Bowing Green Area Convention & Business Bureau, said his role was to “direct” and make sure the event ran smoothly.

Small said the event was a success.

“This was a win-win situation for everybody.

“The ultimate goal is to bring ESPN-type boxing and new events to Bowing Green,” he said.