February 25 1964, Miami Beach, Florida
EVERY now and again, a world heavyweight champion comes along who scares the bejesus out of everyone. Not just opponents, but the world at large. Charles “Sonny” Liston – like George Foreman and Mike Tyson after him – was one such giant. Built like he’d been cut from concrete, Liston rarely smiled. Instead, the former Missouri State Prison inmate growled. And his coronation, though overdue, was as emphatic as any in boxing history. Floyd Patterson was a gifted and popular king but he was knocked out in a round by Liston. They had a rematch and the result was – give or take six seconds – exactly the same. Many experts believed that the new champion was unbeatable, even if you were to put him in a time machine and match him against the best of any era. It wasn’t just his power, it was his style. He was more than just a slugger. Liston stalked his prey intelligently, cutting off the ring and setting traps. When the fight with Muhammad Ali, or Cassius Clay as he was then known, was made, hardly a soul gave the young man a chance. After all, he had barely survived against the comparatively limited Henry Cooper. Clay was installed as a 7-1 underdog – long odds in a two-horse race.
Register now to keep reading
We're chuffed that you are enjoying our website. To continue reading and to help us to provide the best coverage and a great online experience please take a few moments to register. You'll be able to read more online content and get the latest news via the Daily Jabs newsletter.
For unlimited access to all our award-winning content including exclusive subscriber-only stories and a digital archive of editions back to January 2012 you will need to subscribe
Got an account? Sign in