I know D'Amato died before he was champ, but it was Kevin Rooney who kept him grounded and focused. Also, he was pile of shit before/after prison, the turning point was definitely when Don King became involved and his personal problems became more important. Don't watch the knockout compilations, watch the full fights and you can see what kind of boxer he was and what he could have been. I'm not arguing that he was the greatest, I'm not arguing that he could have beaten Ali, I'm saying that he had a 3-4 year period where he was untouchable. He fought everyone he came against and and he annihilated them. He fought Berbick (champion), Spinks (champion), Holmes (yes, old, but a champion), Quick Tillis (a championship contender), Bonecrusher Smith (champion), Pinklon Thomas (champion), Tony Tucker (champion, albeit shortest reign in history, ha), Biggs (title challenger, olympic gold medallist), Tony Tubbs (champion).
Yeah, you're right...he fought no-one. He fought who was around him and he decimated them. He also fought a lot of journeymen - but that's essential to build up experience and craft, but also he was fighting every 2 weeks - could you imagine that now?
The reason I think Ali was a prick was the way he took trash-talking to another level, he brutalized Joe Frazier out of the ring, his family too. It wasn't classy.
If you could match up Ali/Tyson at their primes I'm pretty sure Ali would win simply based on speed of foot and being able to stay on the outside. Tyson's reach was minuscule in comparison and Ali could also take a punch.