Today, Feb. 25, is the 50th anniversary of the world heavyweight title fight between Sonny Liston and Cassius Clay at Convention Center in Miami.
Liston, the champion at the time, quit before the seventh round of a close fight, citing a shoulder injury. Clay was credited with a sixth-round TKO. At the time, Liston was ahead by two points on one scorecard, Clay was ahead by two on another and the third scorecard was even.
There is speculation that fight might have been rigged, according to files released by the FBI, though Clay – who afterward changed his name to Muhammad Ali – was not suspected of being part of the fix. Check out this story in today’s Washington Times detailing the events surrounding what then was considered quite an upset.
Note the story in this link mentions Liston quit before the eighth round. It was actually the seventh.
The two fought a rematch on May 25, 1965, Ali knocking out Liston in the first round with what was described as the “phantom punch.” Rumors began immediately, suggesting Liston took a dive.
Longtime promoter Bob Arum on Saturday will promote the welterweight fight between Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios in Macao, China (on HBO pay-per-view). During a conference call, he remembered vividly his favorite international promotion, and it was no surprise.
“The one that sticks out and is most comparable because it takes place in the same time zone is the ‘Thrilla in Manila’ when Muhammad Ali faced off against Joe Frazier,” Arum said. “That fight took place in the same time that the Pacquiao-Rios fight will take place – around noon Manila time. It was one of the greatest fights I have ever seen in my life.”
Ali won when Frazier did not answer the bell for the 15th round of the fight that took place Oct. 1, 1975.
“These guys went at it and (trainer) Eddie Futch wouldn’t let Joe Frazier come out for the 15th round and Muhammad won the fight,” Arum said.
Arum also remember the immediate aftermath.
“What I remember most was going outside the (Araneta) Coliseum after the fight was over – we had just seen this unbelievable fight and the sun was the brightest that I have ever seen and it was almost as if everyone was blinded by the daylight, and it was one of the most memorable experiences I ever had in my life.”
Several outlets are reporting that former heavyweight champion Ken Norton has died at the age of 70.
Norton had been in poor health since suffering a stroke in 2012. He was perhaps best known for his three fights with Muhummad Ali, of which only one was for a major championship.
Norton broke Ali’s jaw in their first fight in San Diego, won by Norton via split-decision in March 1973. Six months later, that September, Ali won a split-decision over Norton at the Forum.
Ali was scored the winner over Norton in their third fight in September 1976 at Yankee Stadium. It was a controversial unanimous decision, one that enabled Ali to retain his two major title belts.
In one newspaper account the day after that third fight, Norton was quoted as saying he told Ali to his face he thought the decision was a poor one. Norton was asked what Ali’s reply was.
“What could he say? He knew I was right,” Norton said.