Sonny Liston was knocking out fighters other fighters feared leading up to the fights with Ali (AKA the “Louisville Lip” at the time) and continued knocking opponents out after those fights.
Floyd Patterson and his trainer Cus D’Amato avoided Liston for as long as possibly, and the Patterson/Liston fights demonstrate why they avoided Liston.
Both Liston/Ali fights were shocking. Liston quit after being mentally and physically defeated by Ali in their first fight.
The boxing world was stunned again in the rematch when Liston was hit with a sharp counter right over his left that put him on the canvas. Walcott failed to pick up the count in loosing control of the fight, and Nat Fleisher told Walcott to stop the fight because Liston was down longer the 10 count. Liston was completely confused and stood stairing at Ali. Liston never denied being hurt in the fight.Posted October 26, 2013 10:48 pm
Maybe Liston got hit with a knockdown punch… Maybe he remained down because Ali was standing over him or jumping around the ring like a maniac… Maybe Sonny got up without the benefit of a count… and remember, it’s the referee’s count that counts you out and not the timekeeper’s count.
Maybe after Liston got to his feet he he was unhurt… Maybe he easily sliped 6 furious punches an overly excited Ali threw at his head… Maybe Walcott, who did not say “box” went over to talk to a screaming Nat Fleisher and the time keeper… Maybe they didn’t know the rule about the count being suspended if a boxer didn’t go to a neutral corner… Maybe Walcott was just as ignorant… Maybe Fleisher screamed at Walcott to stop the fight because Liston had been down 10 seconds, even though he never got a count… Maybe Walcott did what they suggested and stopped it.Posted October 24, 2013 4:12 pm
Maybe Sonny faked the snapping of his melon to try to make it look more realistic. Maybe SL took a dive for fight fixer Frankie Carbo, as some have thought.Posted October 24, 2013 12:11 pm
Tark, when I talk about the right Ali threw in the first round, I meant to say “earlier” in the first round. After all, it was a one-round fight.
Anyways, I think I may have to eat crow because between my last post and this one I found this HD slo-mo link of Ali delivering that right to Liston’s head:
You can clearly see Liston’s head snap as the punch connects with his face then down Liston goes.
Oh well, I can admit I’m wrong but by golly, it hurts. LOL! There goes my whole “dive” theory!Posted October 24, 2013 2:57 am
“Take my word for it.. Even a small 206-pound heavyweight like Ali can get a tremendous amount of power on a short snapping right when you have a wide open target that’s moving into you.”
Tark, I’ sure it can happen, but it didn’t that night. Not to my eyes. Ali’s arm position was too compressed and his fist too close to his target, and out of position, to be able to deliver a punch with the power necessary to even stun Liston. And Liston wasn’t moving forward with that much momentum. Certainly Ali tagged him, but that was Liston’s cue to go for the mat.
But of course Ali would never say he didn’t hit him that hard. And what could Liston say in the aftermath? As many times as I have watched that fight, I just don’t see a KO punch. Not even a stunning punch.
You make sense in what you say, Tark, but my eyes saw otherwise.Posted October 24, 2013 2:39 am
Hidalgo.., “Nor was Ali in a position to deliver a right with such power.”
Yes he was.., He was in perfect position to land a snapping right with real good power on it. Which is what he did when he scored the knockdown..
Take my word for it.. Even a small 206-pound heavyweight like Ali can get a tremendous amount of power on a short snapping right when you have a wide open target that’s moving into you.. It was a legitimate knockdown. It stunned Liston momentarily but he wasn’t hurt.
His balance seemed good when he got up. You saw him slip those 6 punches Ali threw after he got up, so his reflexes were good and solid.Posted October 24, 2013 12:23 am
Hidalgo that’s bogus… Liston fell back because he saw Ali running at him.. He didn’t want a crazy loon running around the ring and plowing him in the head with a punch.. You have to put one hand on the canvas to get up, so you can’t defend yourself.. That’s what the neutral corner rule is all about … Ali should have been disqualified for refusing Walcott’s repeated order to go to a neutral corner.
Also… without a count, neither Ali, Liston, or Walcott knew how long Liston had been down… That’s why none of them thought the fight was over. If you wanted to throw a fight you’d just stay down until you’re counted out by the referee.. Why would you want to get hit again? It makes on sense.
And Liston didn’t have to resume boxing if he wanted to quit… He could have done what Roberto Duran did, say “No Mas” and walked away. He could have taken a knee like Cotto did in the Cheato fight.
If you’re going to throw a fight at that point you DON’T resume boxing. That would be idiotic as Hell to do. It’s not a good way to quit.Posted October 24, 2013 12:09 am
“Sonny always said, “Why would I resume fighting if I wanted to quit? ”
Anonymous, if the punch didn’t hurt Liston as you claim why did he “attempt” to get up, the roll over and fall down again? Answer, he took a dive.
The best right hand that Ali landed on Liston was a hard straight right in the first round. Ali set his feet and landed a perfect punch following his flicking jab. The right hand he supposedly floored Liston with had nowhere near that power nor was Ali in a position to deliver a right with such power.
And why would he continue if he wanted to quit? Exactly as you said, there was no count, so he HAD to resume fighting. It wasn’t a matter of choice.
Liston took a dive.Posted October 23, 2013 11:32 pm
talbodin, Liston threw a weak left jab. Ali countered over the top of it with his right. But it was a weak right and it was a weird punch–kind of a cross between a hook and a short looping overhand right. But the punch had no power as Ali clearly changed how he delivered the punch as he was in the process of throwing it. It was no KO punch. It was no knockdown punch. Ali was not in any position to throw such a short punch with that kind of power. Ali was backing up when he threw that right hand. But it did connect.Posted October 23, 2013 11:21 pm
Kingdon, I’ve always thought Liston took a dive in his second fight with Ali.Posted October 23, 2013 11:14 pm
“When Walcott finally shoved Ali into a neutral corner Liston was on his feet. Walcott brought them together and the fight resumed. Ali attacked Liston furiously but missed every punch he threw’
Tark, the fight may have resumed but Walcott never signaled them to start fighting again after Liston got up. And, Ali did connect with two punches after the fight resumed, although they were grazing blows. Then Walcott walked back across the ring and stopped the fight.
Regardless, I have always questioned the supposed punch that put Liston down. It was a piss-poor ref job by Walcott too. No ten-count and he lost total control of the fight.
Fortunately for boxing fans around the world we got to see almost a carbon copy of that poor reffing job in the Mayweather/Ortiz fight. Well, not that fortunate.Posted October 23, 2013 11:13 pm
Tark. Liston quit on his stool, the shoulder story was made up as an excuse , clay was acting goofy after the knockdown in the second fight, because he knew he did not hit him hard enough , notice how sonny never lets his head hit the canvass. To me, this and the kennedy assasination , the two biggest mystery’s of my life….Posted October 23, 2013 10:59 pm
Then Sonny got up without a count from the referee. Then he easily evaded 6 Ali punches at his head. All of Ali’s post knockdown punches were thrown before Walcott gave a command to “box” and Ali missed them all in his overly excited and frenzied state. Liston calmly ducked and slipped them all. I think that’s interesting.
I haven’t really looked at the recording on youtube before. It’s interesting that nobody ever talks about Ali’s many rule violations, his failure to go to a neutral corner, Liston not getting a count from Walcott, and the fight continuing after the knockdown.
It’s pretty obvious Liston, Ali, and Walcott thought the fight was still on.Posted October 23, 2013 7:17 pm
liston went down quicker than mayweathers hoe”s.Posted October 23, 2013 5:56 pm
You’re a LIAR… You never watched the replay you IDIOT!!!
Either that or you’re as blind as a brick — and dumb as one too.Posted October 23, 2013 2:03 pm
the replay proves that punch never even touched liston. ali never had one punch power.Posted October 23, 2013 1:47 pm
Liston was trying to trick Ali into thinking he was hurt. It was a good shot, which the replay proves, but it didn’t hurt Sonny. Sonny didn’t get up right away because Ali refused to go to a neutral corner and you don’t get up with your opponent standing over you. That’s what the neutral corner rule is all about.
When Liston did get up, with no count to judge how long he’d been down, because Walcott didn’t count over him, he resumed fighting.
Sonny always said, “Why would I resume fighting if I wanted to quit? The rules state Clay had to go to a neutral corner. I followed the rules, Clay didn’t. I got the shaft.”Posted October 23, 2013 11:31 am
In an article written by George Foreman he spent a few moments talking about his sparring with Sonny and said “I was always proud of the fact that when I fought or sparred no one could back me up…but when I sparred with Sonny he backed me up and parked me like a little ol sports car”….Posted October 23, 2013 11:23 am
Liston took a dive. That tap on his head from Clay was nothing. Then he lays on the canvas and shades his eyes from the light. Dude took a DIVE.Posted October 23, 2013 10:49 am
Back in the fifties and early sixties, Liston ran the board of contenders and still had to wait for his shot; Machen, Folley, Valdes, Bethea, DeJohn, and Williams. All good fighters and all beaten by Liston while Patterson’s manager okayed Pete Rademacher and Tom McNeely for title shots. When Liston fought on television, you didn’t go to the fridge. His criminal background was used as an excuse to keep him out of a title shot, so he stayed there, as number 1 contender for month after month.Posted October 23, 2013 10:27 am
clay liston 2, biggest fit up EVER.Posted October 23, 2013 9:34 am
Mick the Marmalizer
As with Marilyn Monroe, T.E.Lawrence(of Arabia), Jayne Mansfield, Freddie Mills, Brian Jones & even Michael Jackson it’s doubtful that we shall ever get to know the truth of what happened. “Mafia, Gangs & Governments go hand in glove”!Posted October 23, 2013 6:06 am
You got to admit Tark knows his stuff. Too bad people are usually too busy trying to drag him into flamming wars instead of picking up a thing or two about boxing.Posted October 23, 2013 5:47 am
Tark- didn’t realise you were so dusty. You have been around for a while.
Always been a big fan of Charles Sonny Liston.
I think he would’ve beat, or given a hell of a fight, to all the former champions in Jack Johnson, Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano.
I also think he would’ve had great fights with those tough light heavyweights that challenged the heavyweights of that time (the Old Mongoose – Archie Moore, the Cincinnati Cobra- Ezzard Charles and Jersey Joe Walcott- the master of escapology and the fateful referee).
One of my favourite fights, besides the Patterson destruction’s, was his battle with Big Cat Cleveland Williams.
Ironically, Liston vs Clay and Ali vs Cleveland Williams (albeit the stiff and shot by a statetrooper Big Cat) remain my favourite Ali fights, where I believe he was in his physical prime of athleticism.
Rocky Marciano vs Sonny Liston would’ve been one hell of a scrap.
The Phantom Punch is a semi ok movie entailing Sonny’s life. I must read the Night Train in the near future.
Sonny listening to the old blues music whilst training is something special.
Would’ve also loved to have watched the sparring sessions of a young George Foreman vs Sonny Liston.
Time to watch the Patterson fights on YouTube, again in 2013, before knocking off for the evening.Posted October 23, 2013 5:35 am
Read the book NIGHT TRAIN, superb read about Sonny Liston.Posted October 23, 2013 4:03 am
what was the profumo affair…Posted October 22, 2013 11:09 pm
Chuck Wepner wasn’t intimidated. A 50-year-old Liston beat him in his last fight.Posted October 22, 2013 10:07 pm
Liston was an over rated ghetto thug, who won fights before the bell with intimidation. Just like Tyson and Hearns, when Liston came across someone who wasn’t intimidated he lost convincingly without even a yelp.Posted October 22, 2013 5:52 pm
I was a Liston fan. Everyone knew that Patterson ducked him for as long as he could. The second fight with ALI would have been a good one, if it had gone passed the first round. Incidentally, guitarist B.b. King is Liston’s half brotherPosted October 22, 2013 4:38 pm
This pundit is dead wrong.., Liston had tons of fans. I was one. Through most of the 1950’s Liston was the best heavyweight. My friends all knew it too. My dad said, “If Patterson ever fights Liston he gets KO’d immediately.”
I was a teenager and knew Ali was going to beat Liston. So did most of my friends. Liston was too old and too slow. It didn’t matter that Liston blitzed Patterson. Patterson was the perfect opponent for Liston.
Eddie Machen took Liston the distance with ease. Eddie was a 190 lb boxer. Ali was bigger, taller, faster, and jabbed and grabbed way better than Eddie.
But Liston had horrible luck in the Ali fights. In the first fight he tore his left biceps and was forced to quit. In the rematch Ali should have been disqualified for flagrant violations—and for disregarding the referee’s orders.
Ali decked Liston with a sharp right. After the knockdown Ali ran around the ring like a clown, stood over Liston, and rejected the referee’s repeated demands to go to a neutral corner. The count should have been suspended until Ali complied with Walcott’s orders, as the rules call for, but it wasn’t.
Liston got no count. Walcott never picked up the count—or counted over Sonny. Walcott was too busy trying to get a defiant Ali to a neutral corner.
When Walcott finally shoved Ali into a neutral corner Liston was on his feet. Walcott brought them together and the fight resumed. Ali attacked Liston furiously but missed every punch he threw—showing that Liston was unhurt and his reflexes were intact following the knockdown.
Meanwhile—without calling time—Walcott went over to talk to Nat Fleisher and the timekeeper. Apparently nether knew the rules. Fleisher screamed at Walcott that Liston was down for 10 seconds and to stop the fight. Walcott went over to where Liston and Ali were fighting without the oversight of a referee, stopped the fight, and raised Ali’s hand.
Liston became the fall guy for the fiasco. His license was taken away for years because people thought that punch wasn’t hard enough to knock him down. Liston and his lawyers had to fight for years to get his license back.
When an old Sonny started fighting again, he wanted to fight Joe Frazier. “He’s another Patterson, but easier to hit—like shooting fish in a barrel.”Posted October 22, 2013 3:30 pm
he would be a slow but hard punching cruiser weight if he was boxing today.Posted October 22, 2013 3:02 pm
Sonny’s pictures never look intimidating. He looks like a Big Teddy Bear. Kids saw it too which is why they smiled around him and he did too.Posted October 22, 2013 2:46 pm
Brazilian Boxing Fan
Mr. Slater, Liston´s rematch win over Patterson was not his 34th career win, it was his 35th. All but ten of them, not seven, came inside the distance. Best wishes.Posted October 22, 2013 2:21 pm
Brazilian Boxing Fan
Sonny Liston seemed invincible in the early 1960´s… I love watching his two fights against Floyd Patterson. He absolutely destroyed him twice.Posted October 22, 2013 2:15 pm
When McCall started crying and stopped fighting in the L.L. fight…very very strange indeed…Posted October 22, 2013 2:09 pm
I do not know of a more bizarre heavyweight title fight than the rematch between Liston and Ali. Anybody have any others that even come close?Posted October 22, 2013 1:28 pm
I find it interesting Liston had a longer reach then both k-bros.Liston did look like a scarey man back in his day.Posted October 22, 2013 1:21 pm
What’s with these Slater “what if” articles or “trip down memory lane” articles?Posted October 22, 2013 1:06 pm
JFK’s dad probably knew 10 times more gangsters than did Liston.Posted October 22, 2013 12:28 pm
Liston laid down in Cassius Clay fight. Clay was never a PUNCHER and yet he lay Liston out with a tap to the head. Boooooooooooo Booooooooo Boo Liston for throwing the fight. An Embarrassment for the Liston legacy.Posted October 22, 2013 12:09 pm