Fifty Years After: That Cassius Clay/Sonny Listless Fight

Swell piece in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal recapping the classic 1964 heavyweight bout between Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston.

Clay-Liston: The Fight That Made Muhammad Ali

A Half Century Ago, a Brash Youngster Named Cassius Clay Beat Sonny Liston and Started His Legend

Fifty years ago Tuesday, Cassius Clay shocked Sonny Liston to PJ-BT395_LISTON_G_20140224200415win the heavyweight title.

In the decades afterward, the man later known as Muhammad Ali would politicize sports and transform the art of boxing into theater. He also would beat Liston again in a famously short meeting a year later. But this first fight, the one in Miami Beach, was the one that made it all possible.

And it was a corker.



Love the roll call of boxing greats: Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, and Sugar Ray Robinson.

But love even more the fight itself.

Liston was a 7-1 favorite. About 90% of the press picked Clay to be picking himself off the canvas at night’s end . . .

From the first bell, Clay danced constantly, circling left and PJ-BT396_LISTON_DV_20140224203210right. As though on tracks, Liston came straight ahead, landing some jabs but unable to cut off the ring. When Liston did close the gap, Clay would grab him, hold and then spin out.

As Dundee had predicted, Liston was easy to hit. Clay tattooed him in the third round, opening up a gash under Liston’s left eye. Clay took a sabbatical in the fourth, but at the end of the round he trudged back to the corner complaining that he couldn’t see.

The rest is history.

(Spoiler alert: Liston quit before the seventh round began.)

Read the Journal piece for details.

It’s a corker.


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