Laila Ali: Could She Be ‘The Greatest’ Female Fighter Of All Time?

Laila Ali was recently approached — as she often is — by the paparazzi reporters of TMZ, and they asked her to weigh in on Holly Holm’s first loss at UFC 196 against new champ Miesha Tate as well as Maria Sharapova’s doping scandal.

First, the doping scandal.

Ali believed that Sharapova would “learn from this,” but warned that “you gotta be responsible for whatever it is you put in your body.”

Throughout her 24-fight professional career, Laila Ali was the picture of professionalism, never once testing positive for an illegal substance.

She also won every fight and knocked 21 of her opponents cold.

Such a record passed on her father’s nickname of “The Greatest” to her, as far as women professional boxers were concerned. Unlike most fighters, Ali got out while she was still in great shape. Since then, she has not shown a desire to step back into the ring.

Holly Holm recently used Laila Ali as a comparison example when discussing whether Ronda Rousey should keep fighting or hang it up, remarking that Ali had “lost her passion” for the sport, and that she really didn’t have anything to prove, especially if done with the fight game.

Coincidentally, it was Holm that TMZ wanted Laila Ali to weigh in on the most when they caught her for a brief video interview, and she had a simple statement along with a self-aggrandizing barb.

“You win some, you lose some,” Ali said. Then, she said, adding with a laugh, “Except me, I’m undefeated.”

The tone, if you watch the video, is lighthearted and one that is conciliatory in nature; so, it’s unlikely to carry with it bad blood in the same way that Laila Ali and Ronda Rousey seemed to have exchanged words before Holm KO’d Rousey in November 2015.

During a previous interview with TMZ under similar circumstances the celebrity news site asked Ali who would win in a fight between her and Ronda, and there was no hesitation when she confirmed that she would, in fact, take the “Rowdy” one.

Part of that, she noted, was because there was a significant size differential and part of it was that Ronda was winning in a young and unproven division.

Ali has points in both cases.

Rousey was a tornado in a division of thin talent, and when the first challenge arose — a master striker like Laila Ali — she got picked apart and finished.

Add to that the reality that Ali would have been packing a lot more power to her punches — due to her size, Rousey would not have been able to charge in and manhandle her — and you’ve got the makings of a massacre.

In fact, it’s possible that even a coming-out-of-retirement Laila Ali could have dominated Rousey in a one-on-one fight.

Does that make Laila Ali “The Greatest” female fighter of all time?

She faced a similar situation to Rousey’s in 1999 when she entered the sport of women’s professional boxing. Fighter Christy Martin had paved the way for Ali, but it was Laila that took the sport to the next level, logging 15 consecutive victories before meeting Martin and knocking her out in the fourth round of their 2003 bout.

The boxing ranks were as thin for Laila Ali as MMA was for Rousey, who fought half as long and half as many fights as Ali before tasting her first defeat.

But, as Ali pointed out, no one ever beat her. No one even came close.

What do you think, readers? Is Laila Ali the greatest female fighter of all time? Sound off in the comments section.

[Photo by Frank Franklin II/AP Images]