History | Nov 22 2018

On This Day: Muhammad Ali toys with poor Floyd Patterson

Floyd Patterson regretted getting under Muhammad Ali's skin, writes Matt Christie
Muhammad Ali
A heavyweight who fought like a welterweight The Courier Journal/USA Today Sports

WITH the world tired of the Muhammad Ali-Sonny Liston saga, it was time for the new champion to move on. On November 22, 1965 he accepted the challenge of former champion Floyd Patterson, whom Sonny had dethroned via two equally savage first round knockouts. The despair of those defeats had forced Patterson into hiding. He would don fake beards and moustaches when he went out to the shop. Floyd was the youngest man to ever win the title – aged just 21 back in 1956 – and had been the first in history to regain it. But the losses to Liston had hurt him bad, and he knew defeating Ali would restore some pride.

Patterson had first met Ali – then Cassius Clay – in 1960 when the young man was en-route to winning Olympic Gold. Clay screamed at the then-champion that he was coming for him. Five years later, that collision was set.

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