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The Fixed Match ? Liston-Ali Heavyweight Title Bout

November 17, 2011  by: Madan G Singh  Points: 12   Category: Others    Views: 396

Sonny Liston was in a 7 to 1 favorite with Ali, yet he lost in a knock out.


Cassius Clay also known as Muhammad Ali is a name to reckon with in the boxing world. Another name that immediately comes to mind along with Ali is that of Sonny Liston. However the heavyweight crown battle between them in 1964 has left a lot of questions unanswered. Liston had a fearsome reputation, but inexplicably he lost to Ali though he was 7-1 favorite. Liston as per reports quit the fight in the 7th round, claiming his shoulder was hurt. This again is hard to understand as just a little time earlier he had battled Marty Marshal with a broken jaw. People assumed that the return fight with Ali will once for all settle the question as to who is the world heavyweight champion.

The second battle between the two took place on May 25, 1965, but it has raised mysterious questions that defy answers. Firstly the championship match was changed from Boston to Lewiston, Maine as Ali had converted to Islam. The bout however has raised questions that have never been answered to the satisfaction of all.

The bout had just commenced and hardly two minutes had elapsed, when people who saw the fight were astounded to see Ali hit Liston with an innocuous punch, that didn't seem to have much power behind it. Wonder of wonders, Liston the fearsome fighter just went down on the canvas and lay spread eagled. It was a total shock to the public to see Liston down on the canvas. He lay prone on the mat. The referee never counted Sonny Liston out and did not ask Ali to go to his corner. Perhaps he was too surprised to react. While all this was going on Ali put in a theatrical performance and yelled, shouted and gesticulated.

Nat Fleisher a boxing writer brought the attention of the referee to the fact that Liston had been on the mat for more than ten seconds. The photograph of that punch is available for all to see and thousands of copies are available on the net and otherwise. All we can say it that the punch was a phantom punch and something that is hard to digest now.

Many people opined that it was a 'fixed' fight. In fact eminent boxers like Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis and Gene Tunney among others have all said that they believed that the fight was a sham. Some reports also suggested that Liston who was in debt to the Mafia had bet against himself. But the fact remains that the punch that knocked out Liston was just a jab.

A little later Mark Kram in his book 'Ghosts of manila' concluded after an interview with Liston,that Liston had lost the fight intentionally as he feared for his life from the black Muslims who were raising their head in those days. But what ever the truth the Liston- Ali bout certainly will be remembered for the controversy it generated


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