During his reign, he wrestled across America and in Japan (February 1978), facing challengers such as former champion Bruno Sammartino, Jack Brisco , Dusty Rhodes , Pedro Morales , Don Muraco , Mil Mascaras , Strong Kobayashi and Riki Choshu .  On 25 January 1978 in Miami , Florida at the Orange Bowl football stadium, Graham wrestled against then- NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race in a WWWF World Heavyweight Championship vs. NWA World Heavyweight Championship unification match which ended in a one-hour time-limit draw.    Although a defeat by Bob Backlund , who was to embody the virtuous junior "all-American" wrestler, had been written into Graham's current contract with the WWWF, Graham suggested another outcome to McMahon: that Ivan Koloff should turn on him, thus starting a feud that would make Graham a fan favorite . McMahon refused because of the handshake deal to make Backlund the new fan favorite champion and he did not want to go back on his word. It was also unheard of for a counter-cultural character like Graham to be a fan favorite, because McMahon and many old promoters saw Graham as a confirmed heel and therefore a negative role model. Graham eventually "lost" the title to Backlund on February 20, 1978.