In 1966, Muhammad Ali was set to defend his world heavyweight title against English boxer Brian London, a.k.a. “The British Bulldog,” which aptly described both his fighting style and his flat-nosed face. The fight would take place in London. Chet Forte, who was producing the fight, asked me to open the telecast with Frank Sinatra’s recording of “A Foggy Day (in London Town).” Foggy Day? I thought. That’s a love song! What would that have to do with a heavyweight fight?
A week or so before we were to leave for England, Chet asked how the opening was coming along. “Great,” I replied, though I’d done nothing but worry about it. When I got home that night and listened to the song one more time, a line of the lyrics jumped out at me: “How long, I wondered, could this thing last?”
That was funny! And even funnier when laid over Brian London’s tired, grisly mug.
The entire shot list formed in comic strip-like captions popping above my head. I laid “What to do, what to do, what to do” over Ali standing on the steps of his hotel, looking this way and that. “As I walked through the dreary streets alone” went over Ali strolling in Soho with hundreds of people following him. The song turned out to be pure satire, playing against video images of the city’s landmarks and the two contrasting personalities.
How long did the fight last? Not long. Ali knocked out London early in the third round. Variety‘s review of our telecast noted that the fight wasn’t all that entertaining but applauded the “Foggy Day” teaser: “Somebody at ABC Sports has a sense of style.”