1. IN September 1962 Sonny Liston flattened Floyd Patterson in the opening round to claim the world heavyweight title in Chicago. Patterson had proved in the past he could rebound from devastating defeat, having gained revenge over Ingemar Johansson, but few expected him to reverse the Liston result in the July 22 1963 rematch. But Liston thought that Patterson would fare a little better this time saying, “Maybe it’ll go three [rounds], maybe even five.” Patterson’s promises that he “shall not be knocked out in the first round” again were hardly inspiring.
2. HOWEVER, Patterson had reportedly shown good form in training, flooring five sparring partners while preparing in Las Vegas and knocking out another. The former champion, so ashamed of his performance in the first bout he disguised himself with a fake beard in the aftermath, was certainly working hard to conquer his demons; previously scared of flying, Patterson had paid £6,000 for a plane and was learning how to fly.
3. LISTON, wearing a straw hat, blue shirt and silver-gold dressing gown, kept the fans waiting at the weigh-in and was duly fined $100 for turning up 40 minutes late. The champion’s lack of popularity was never more evident as fans jeered him as he undressed and plonked himself on the scales. The boos got louder before the fight as the 8,000-strong crowd inside the Las Vegas Convention Center screamed dislike at Liston, and appreciation for Floyd.