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Sonny Liston

A "phantom Punch"

When Sonny Liston went down in the first round of his rematch with Muhammad Ali, fans were amazed—and angry. In The Devil and Sonny Liston Nick Tosches wrote: "One thing is certain: in that rematch … when Sonny lay down in the first, he showed less acting ability than in the episode of Love American Style in which he later bizarrely appeared. That fight was not merely a fix … it was a flaunted fix." Tosches suggested the Mob was tired of its tarnished champ and saw more lucrative possibilities with Ali. Others suggested that Nation of Islam figures threatened Liston's life if he didn't throw the fight. But not all saw a fix. Sports Illustrated ran a frame-by-frame analysis of the fight on June 7, 1965, concluding that Ali had in fact knocked out Liston. Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray wrote: "What happened? I'll tell you what happened. Sonny Liston got the hell beat out of him is what happened … an old man groping his way into a speedy, insolent, reckless kid." Decades later, sportswriter Allen Barra agreed, concluding in The New York Times that "Murray's shot seems right on target, but it's hard to knock out a myth."

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Famous Sports StarsBoxingSonny Liston Biography - Birth Of A Prison Boxer, From The Big House To The Big Time, Chronology, The Champ Nobody Wanted