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Thread: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

  1. #31
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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    Sonny Liston learned discipline in prison and trained harder than any heavyweight fighter you could name at that time. He was always able to go the distance no sweat in his career. He only slumped off on training when he learned he was not going to be allowed to win or get a big bout. Kind of like Jimmy Young after he was robbed in the Norton bout and knew his time would never come again.

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    Rocky, does that mean you believe that the fix was in on Clay-Liston I and II?

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    DscribeDC, old buddy you got it. The fix was in both times. My brother anytime you see big money on the line and guys totally fall apart in the ring compared to excellent past performances-well its either broads, dope, or fixes. In the Liston story the facts were given to me by guys totally involved. They had no reason to lie and it wasnt the first time they were involved in things like this. The "business" of boxing was opened up to one everytime these guys talked.
    Was the "government" involved with driving Jack Johnson out of the United States? Did the "government" intensify the tension of the Louis v Schmeling bout for politcal reasons? Did the "government" discourage Dempsey v Wills?
    I mean its no far stretch to think the "government" wanted Liston out and pressured his bosses.

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    I'm sorry but I don't buy the Oliver Stone conspiracy nonsense.

    Having a militant black muslim draft dodger as heavyweight champion was hardly a step up from the ex-con Liston. Was Muhammad Ali the champion 'the goverment' wanted from a social and economic standpoint?

    Ali wasn't even an economic draw in the US when he was champion in the 60's, that's why he fought in Europe and Canada. Why would the government want Ali as champion?

    Maybe Holyfield-Tyson was a fix because the boxing establishment didn't want a convicted rapist as heavyweight champion.

    Sounds like alot of bunk to me.

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    I'm sorry but all you have to do is watch the first fight...Ali(Clay) just beat Sonny, period...no fix....no funny business...he beat him plain and simple.

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    Ali at the time of the first Liston bout was "Golden Boy" Cassius Clay and they tried like hell to hide what he had become and didnt know how to deal with it. Thats why that second bout went to "Lewistown" Maine or whatever.
    As far as Cassius beating Sonny in that first bout. Then youd have to believe that Henry Cooper and Doug Jones gave him better fights than SONNY LISTON. Thats harder to believe than the fix........................Someday its all gonna come out anyway, just as most things do when everyone is gone. I mean guys used to believe that McGuire, Sosa, and Bonds hit 70 homers a year at advanced ages cause they "improved", not because of a juiced ball or steroids. But fans who SAW Mize, Mays, Mantle, Killebrew, McCovey, etc knew what was up and what they were watching. Things in smoke cant be believed, but your eyes rarely lie. Good discussion though fellas. I used to be on your side of the argument until I learned better. "Believing" can be painful sometimes in the end.

  7. #37
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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    Great fighters improve during the learning curved developmental stage of their careers. Especially when matched in increments. That's why they become great, they tend to learn and not to make the same costly mistakes twice. Ali improved and learned after the Jones and Cooper fights. It's not uncommon for a great heavyweight to do when they are at the tender age of 21.

    Styles make fights. Bert Whitehurst was a journeyman with a spotty record who used a decent jab and lateral movement to give a prime Liston difficulty. Whitehurst was nowhere near the fighter that the 22 year old Ali was yet he twice went the 10 round distance with a better version of Liston than the over-confident, under-trained 1964 version of Sonny who lost to Ali.

    Sonny was a boxer/puncher and tended to be more of a counterpuncher, not the best style against the fleet-footed Ali. Liston, over-confident altered his style and turned swarmer in an effort to KO Ali early, then ran out of gas because he was undertrained. Liston's cut eye wasn't phony nor was his injury which was verified by the examining physician after the fight. Here is the AP news release dated Feb 26th, 1964:

    "Doctor's Findings; DOCTORS CONFIRM INJURY TO LISTON

    Feb. 26 -- A team of eight physicians said in a statement issued early this morning that the defeated heavyweight champion, Sonny Liston, had suffered an arm injury that would have prevented him from defending himself in his title fight against Cassius Clay."


    At the time, it was improbable that Liston could have been beaten by Ali but knowing the great fighter Ali turned out to be in the 1960's, in retrospect, why is it that difficult to believe that he couldn't defeat this older version of Liston?
    Last edited by 10-8; 10-25-2006 at 05:13 PM.

  8. #38
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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    In boxing, from time to time, what seems to be improbable turns out to be anything but and afterwards fans scratch their heads and wonder, "what the hell was I thinking?"

    Just watch that fight.....it doesn't appear that any version of Liston could have matched up well with Clay....far too fast, bigger, obviously younger, etc. His jab alone gave Sonny fits, even early in the fight, and the another important factor that can't be minimized is that Clay wasn't cowed by Sonny.

    The fight really wasn't even close. Clay nearly dropped Sonny, and oddly enough it was with punches similar to the supposed phantom punch that he dropped him with in Lewiston.

    As I said, watch that fight.

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    Ali's jab? Pretty damm good. But could he really jab with Sonny Liston on the real tip? He had trouble jabbing with Jimmy Young and Ken Norton. Who ever could jab with Sonny Liston? I dont think Joe Louis could have. I also might add that I have talked about his subject with respected pro's, both historical and active and trainers. NOBODY has ever disagreed.........

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    Young and Norton, for what it is worth, were facing a bit slower Ali than the '64 version. Comparing the jabbing success then could be a bit flawed as a result.

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    I think Louis could jab with Liston. His jab wasn't as consistently hard as Liston's but I think this is because he often employed a different jab for different circumstances. He had a hard, jarring jab that was a weapon itself like he used against Max Baer that snapped Maxie's head back every time it landed, he had a range finding jab, and he had a distraction jab to paw in the opponents face. I think Louis was a great, versatile jabber who could jab with any heavyweight in history except for perhaps an Ali like opponent who would jab and then get the hell out of there of speedy, speedy, legs.

    Liston did have an awesome jab though, perhaps the best alongside with Holmes. I just think Louis would be competitive with him in that department.

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    Ali's jab? Pretty damm good. But could he really jab with Sonny Liston on the real tip? He had trouble jabbing with Jimmy Young and Ken Norton. Who ever could jab with Sonny Liston?
    As I said, watch the fight.

    Sonny may very well have had a "better" jab, but "better" didn't keep him from eating Ali's jab pretty consistently in the fight, and it didn't help that he couldn't connect with his own jab, either. Ali was just too fast for him, both on his feet and with his offense.

    If Sonny could have hit him, it may have been different, but the fact is, he couldn't. He barely landed a clean shot that night and it wasn't because he wasn't trying.

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    For what it's worth, I'm with Rocky on this one. I've been around some
    pretty good fighters from that era and one of them was a friend of Sonny's. They all firmly believed that they where both fixed fights. I know it's just gym talk, but from what I've been told by the old timers,sometimes you just did business.
    Thanks,
    Matt Greer
    Last edited by mtg1977; 10-26-2006 at 06:10 PM.

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    I will have to watch the fight again, keeping an open mind to the fact that it might be a fix. I suggest others try this too and see if it looks fishy or not.

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    I don't believe fight 1 was fixed either. Just watching the round when Clays eyes were bothering him, Liston went balls-out chasing and swinging from the heels. You don't do that when you're going in the tank.

    As far as fight 2, while it's clear that Sonny wasn't interested in fighting that night, a fix is very likely but I think there's as much chance that Sonny just wanted out as him being told to lay down.

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    I enjoy Rockys posts but in this thread he sounds a bit like the archetypal conspiracy nut. These sources he's citing, mob guys etc. Because their reknown for telling the truth.

    I'm not some Ali lover, i like Liston more than i like Ali, i think the rematch was shady, but that first fight in 64 Ali was on his top game & not playing as he did v Patterson and others. He beat Sonny up plain & simple. And Sonny was medically proven to have suffered a severe injury.

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    I'm not quite convinced of a "medically proven injury". A doctor said, "Yes, he hurt his arm." But nobody has ever stated conclusively what the injury was. Basically, the proof was a doctor's opinion, which is easy emough to get (or buy). Liston's description (that his arm felt like it was full of lead) was ambiguous enough, and nowhere did he show any signs of injury during th action.

    He was being embarrassed and he quit. That's pretty much the whole story.

  18. #48
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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    Clearly it is easier to beat a guy who simply quits when he is having difficulty than it is someone who refuses to quit when facing adversity. Clearly Liston was not willing to give his utmost effort given that he quit on his stool.

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    Clearly it is easier to beat a guy who simply quits when he is having difficulty than it is someone who refuses to quit when facing adversity. Clearly Liston was not willing to give his utmost effort given that he quit on his stool.
    Are you saying that his refusing to come out for the 7th round means he hadn't fought seriously during the first 6 rounds?

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    I once heard (but never was able to verify it) that the odds in Vegas on Liston-Clay 1 were Liston at 7-to-1 favorite. Then a couple of hours before the fight they dipped to Liston at a 3-to-2 favorite.

    If true, that's a clear indication that somebody bet a HUGE bundle on Clay shortly before the fight. Enough to drastically swing the odds. When enough money is bet to suddenly influence odds in such a way, it always does raise suspicions. I don't know if the fight was fixed or not, but if those numbers are indeed accurate, it certainly warrants reason to wonder.

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    >>>liston was thought to be slow, ponderous, easy to hit to the body and not quite the banger made out to be later. this is from the boxing community--not the public. the ring and others mags had articles on how liston was vulnerableand defiecent insome areas. later--ali was considered to be a joke or an unteseted speedsteer.<<<



    I think Liston is vastly overrated at times. He was a hell of a fighter, but anyone who might think that he was this invincible, heavyweight destroyer that just wadded through opponents need only watch his two bouts with Whitehurst...they are very good examples of what Mike stated.

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    Quote Originally Posted by JBS
    I once heard (but never was able to verify it) that the odds in Vegas on Liston-Clay 1 were Liston at 7-to-1 favorite. Then a couple of hours before the fight they dipped to Liston at a 3-to-2 favorite.

    If true, that's a clear indication that somebody bet a HUGE bundle on Clay shortly before the fight. Enough to drastically swing the odds. When enough money is bet to suddenly influence odds in such a way, it always does raise suspicions. I don't know if the fight was fixed or not, but if those numbers are indeed accurate, it certainly warrants reason to wonder.
    Not true. The odds were 7-1 at fight time.

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    DMH, you may be right. I never did find any sources that verified the vegas odds at fight time. I've just heard now and then from several sources that they had dropped way down shortly before the fight went off.

    I did find this interesting quote in Tosche's book on Liston--

    "A Chicago bookmaker remembered: 'The biggest key to it (a fix) the biggest key was the odds. The fight was 5 1/2 to 1 around here, and by fight time it was down to about 2-to-1. One guy, he called me up from Vegas, he wanted to bet 5 grand on Clay. He was looking for 4 or 5- to -1. But I heard they were already down to 3-to-1, so I think I said I'd give him 3-to-1. but for a fight to have dropped down like that....'

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    If I may post an opinion that might not advance the thread but hopefully will not ruin it:

    Tosches' book would have been mere punctuation if one took out the hearsay and the multitude of "someone told me"'s. Makes it hard to give a lot of credence to a Chicago bookmaker who is anonymous and has who knows what kind of agenda.

    I speak only for myself of course, and don't want to pass judgment on those who think the fight could be fixed and may see Tosches' as providing some sort of evidence.
    Last edited by Sharkey; 10-29-2006 at 01:14 PM.

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    Tosches book on Liston, fact-wise, is absolutely horrible! It would be better suited in the genre of "Docu-Drama," I believe that is the term I am think of...a story inspired by non-fiction, but loaded with fiction...docu-drama...right?

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    Id just like to comment on my sources. I understand that "Wiseguys" bullshit alot. After all they are Hoods who are out to make a buck anyway they can. "Street guys". But I know the difference between a "Wiseguy" and a City "Boss". In these two cases they were from the second biggest city in Chicago, and both guys were very influencial in getting John Kennedy elected, but fixing the results in Cook County (Or does anybody doubt that the Democratic party machine in Chitown wasnt tied up with the "OUtfit"?) These were guys involved with Liston and the Kennedy's. One of guys chief enforcers is named in several books as being a guy who had the hand of killing Marlynn Monroe to shut her up.
    Having grown up in the middle of guys like this and getting my respects the hard way, I tend to believe what these two men tell me.
    Thats my facts-I believed them. I believed them because after watching Clay against Cooper and JOnes and KNOWING how good Liston was, I just didnt believe it was on the level. Now watching it and KNOWING what happened I have to laugh some. I think I was right all along.
    Yes Clay looked sharp at times. Of course he would, he was a all time great. But Sonny was laying back and shocked that Clay would take hard liberties with him. He then punished Clay who wanted to quit. Yes he might have had something in his eye, but what boxer has not had something in his eye from time to time? It was no reason to quit. He wanted to quit alright, but it had nothing to do with his eye. Sonny could scare a guy.
    Bert Whitehurst ran from Sonny and never won a round. When a guy fights like this its tough to look great although Sonny finally caught the guy and koed him after the bell in the second fight. Ted lowry v Marciano, Paster v Louis, Dempsey v Gibbons, all the greats have had that kind of guy last.
    Believe me a fan who believes the fight was on the level still has my respect. Its a fun discussion. But they are seeing it as BOXING and not a fix. I am seeing it as a fix and business.
    Lastly there ARE fixes in boxing. Even so great a fighter as Jake Lamotta the only man to handle Ray Robinson to a defeat has admitted he fixed a fight (he fixed more than one!) to get a title shot. This is a guy who "talked". Many more could.

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history


    Sonny Liston---1963

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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    Quote Originally Posted by rocky111
    Id just like to comment on my sources. I understand that "Wiseguys" bullshit alot. After all they are Hoods who are out to make a buck anyway they can. "Street guys". But I know the difference between a "Wiseguy" and a City "Boss". In these two cases they were from the second biggest city in Chicago, and both guys were very influencial in getting John Kennedy elected, but fixing the results in Cook County (Or does anybody doubt that the Democratic party machine in Chitown wasnt tied up with the "OUtfit"?) These were guys involved with Liston and the Kennedy's. One of guys chief enforcers is named in several books as being a guy who had the hand of killing Marlynn Monroe to shut her up.
    Having grown up in the middle of guys like this and getting my respects the hard way, I tend to believe what these two men tell me.
    Thats my facts-I believed them. I believed them because after watching Clay against Cooper and JOnes and KNOWING how good Liston was, I just didnt believe it was on the level. Now watching it and KNOWING what happened I have to laugh some. I think I was right all along.
    Yes Clay looked sharp at times. Of course he would, he was a all time great. But Sonny was laying back and shocked that Clay would take hard liberties with him. He then punished Clay who wanted to quit. Yes he might have had something in his eye, but what boxer has not had something in his eye from time to time? It was no reason to quit. He wanted to quit alright, but it had nothing to do with his eye. Sonny could scare a guy.
    Bert Whitehurst ran from Sonny and never won a round. When a guy fights like this its tough to look great although Sonny finally caught the guy and koed him after the bell in the second fight. Ted lowry v Marciano, Paster v Louis, Dempsey v Gibbons, all the greats have had that kind of guy last.
    Believe me a fan who believes the fight was on the level still has my respect. Its a fun discussion. But they are seeing it as BOXING and not a fix. I am seeing it as a fix and business.
    Lastly there ARE fixes in boxing. Even so great a fighter as Jake Lamotta the only man to handle Ray Robinson to a defeat has admitted he fixed a fight (he fixed more than one!) to get a title shot. This is a guy who "talked". Many more could.
    This is just a little too far fetched for me to be taking seriously. You have touched on Ali putting up poor performances against Cooper and Jones, yet fail to acknowledge the fact that Ali often looked ordinary against second tier opponents, developed during these fights which offered adversity, and always showed his best against the best.... a fighter who fought best when pushed to the edge of a cliff. Im sure Ali was scared..... but shit he surely didn't look like a fighter ready to quit in the rounds prior to the blinding. Being half blind and having to grope to find his man was merely an exscuse to quit?

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    Liston's perception

    With the question wondering if it was wishful thinking by the experts who tabbed Floyd to succeed agianst Liston, I beleive that to be the case.

    The articles at the time, that I have come accrosss all describe Liston as an absolute Wrecking Machine.

    Joe Louis said of the matchup with Patterson: "I don't see how Sonny can lose." Now Joe never had a very good track record in picking fights, but here was at least on notable insider who thought Liston brought to the table everything that has been said about him.

    The December 1959 issue of Boxing Illustrated had an article entitled "Nobody can Beat Sonny Liston". THis was when Johannsson was champ. In Mar 62' there was an article Defending Liston's right to fight for the title. The article talked of WHEN he would be champ, not if as if this was a foregone conclusion had they met.

    Liston was indeed loathed and was certainly considered a controversial figure. And I have no doubt that there were indeed negative articles about him. However, I truly beleive that the motivations surrounding the negative peieces were born out of not wanting such a "nefarious" charecter who had mob ties, as the Heaveweight champion of the world and not a true estimation of his skill value.

    Some like Johansson had other reasons why he would say that "Liston was not quick enough for Floyd". Pride.

    Sonny Liston was the #1 ranked heavyweight for years, for a reason and he was a solid favorite to beat Floyd for a reason as well. He was better than Floyd and boxing folks, whether they wanted to admit it or not, knew it.

    Of course this is just my opinion. I could be wrong.

    Hawk

  30. #60
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    Re: Sonny Liston, One of the most accomplished Heavweight Champions in history

    He beat Patterson twice, Williams twice, Folley and Machen. 3 of which were LH/CW sized fighters. He had 1 title defense.

    I Like sonny, but he was one of the least accomplished great champions.

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