Muhammad Ali vs Sonny Liston II - 1965
Cassius Clay (later to become Muhammad Ali) vs Sonny Liston I – February 1964 in Miami Beach, Florida

Muhammad Ali vs Sonny Liston II - 1965
Cassius Clay (later to become Muhammad Ali) vs Sonny Liston II – May 1965 in Lewiston, Maine

Did Sonny Liston take a dive for the Cassius Clay vs Sonny Liston II may 1965 fight?

That punch didn’t look to me like enough to flatten a guy like Liston, but here is what some other “experts” think. “…Liston did get hit a legitimate shot squarely on the point of his chin and he hit the canvas in a heap. The series of moves Ali used to KO Liston were designed by Angelo Dundee and Ali used them many times throughout his illustrious career to KO such fighters as Zora Folley, Cleveland Williams, Brian London, Karl Mildenberger, and George Foreman. Watch the films of those fights and you will see Ali do the same three things over and over again.

Angelo called it, “Slip, slide and bang!” Liston made a beginner’s mistake that led to his own downfall. Liston lunged with his left jab. As anyone in boxing can tell you, whenever a fighter lunges, he is off-balance and highly susceptible to getting knocked out with a quick counter punch. When you watch the film, you see that Liston’s head is out over his front foot, which means that he was dangerously off-balance and wide open to a quick, powerful counter right hand. Ali slipped Liston’s jab, slid to his right maybe three inches to create an angle, and then threw the now famous picture perfect counter right hand to end the fight. Liston was off balance and took the whole brunt of the shot on his chin. He was down for more than ten seconds. Whatever happened after that is prologue.

Liston said years later, “I was off balance and he caught me with a stiff right hand. It rattled me. My head really hurt. It was a good shot.” Liston was mortal after all. Upon entering the ring that night, Liston was cheered vociferously by the crowd in attendance while Ali was booed with equal ferocity. It was the first and sadly, the last time Liston was ever cheered during a fight.

The film clip shows it all. When Liston finally did rise, Ali jumped on him, landing dozens of punches prior to Walcott stopping the fight. Even if Walcott had not stopped the fight, Liston would never have made it out of the first round. The knockout was genuine. Both men never faced each other again in the ring. They are however, forever linked, by their two title fights together, both of which ended in controversy.”

Muhammad Ali - I am the Greatest poem
Muhammad Ali – I am the Greatest poem

Poem composed prior to his match with Sonny Liston, in 1964

Clay comes out to meet Liston and Liston starts to retreat,
if Liston goes back an inch farther he’ll end up in a ringside seat.
Clay swings with his left, Clay swings with his right,
Look at young Cassius carry the fight
Liston keeps backing, but there’s not enough room,
It’s a matter of time till Clay lowers the boom.
Now Clay lands with a right, what a beautiful swing,
And the punch raises the Bear clean out of the ring.
Liston is still rising and the ref wears a frown,
For he can’t start counting till Sonny goes down.
Now Liston is disappearing from view, the crowd is going frantic,
But radar stations have picked him up, somewhere over the Atlantic.
Who would have thought when they came to the fight?
That they’d witness the launching of a human satellite.
Yes the crowd did not dream, when they put up the money,
That they would see a total eclipse of the Sonny.

                                                                              Muhammed Ali 1963

In response to the question “Who writes your stuff?” in 1963

This is the legend of Cassius Clay,
The most beautiful fighter in the world today.
He talks a great deal, and brags indeed-y,
Of a muscular punch that’s incredibly speed-y.
The fistic world was dull and weary,
But with a champ like Liston, things had to be dreary.
Then someone with color and someone with dash,
Brought fight fans are runnin’ with Cash.
This brash young boxer is something to see
and the heavyweight championship is his destiny.
This kid’s got a left, this kid’s got a right,
If he hit you once, you’re asleep for the night.

                                                                              Muhammed Ali 1963





Muhammad Ali Cassius Clay vs Sonny Liston 1965

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