In 1963, in London, looking for his 19th consecutive win, over 50,000 people came to see what athlete battle Henry Cooper?
Clay, who had changed his name to Muhammad Ali in 1964, later said on British television that Cooper “had hit him so hard that his ancestors in Africa felt it”. In 1966 Cooper fought Ali, now world heavyweight champion, for a second time at Highbury. However Ali was now alert to the danger posed by Cooper’s left and more cautious than he had been in the previous contest; he held Cooper in a vice-like grip during clinches, and when told to break leapt backward several feet.Accumulated scar tissue around Cooper’s eyes made him more vulnerable than in the previous meeting and a serious cut was opened by Ali, which led to the fight being stopped, Cooper again suffering a technical knockout when he was ahead on the scorecards.
After the loss to Ali, Cooper fought former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson, but was counted out in the fourth. After that he went undefeated until the final fight of his career, and made more defences of his British and Commonwealth titles against Jack Bodell (TKO 2 and PTS 15) and Billy Walker (TKO 6). In 1968 Cooper added the European crown to his domestic titles with a win over Karl Mildenberger, and later made two successful defences of his title.