The rematch between Cassius Clay, who had changed his name to Muhammad Ali, and former champion Sonny Liston was scheduled for November, 16, 1964.
Three days before the bout, Ali was diagnosed of having an incarcerated inguinal hernia that had to be removed by an instant operation. The rematch had to be postponed seven months. It was to be held in Lewiston, a small town in Maine. Only 2,434 people found their way to St Dominick's Arena on fight night.
The story of the actual fight is a short one. The bout had just started when it was finished by a straight right by Ali. The two boxers had absolved merely 105 seconds when the fight was over - a period of time in which Ali had just thrown six serious punches before Liston hit the canvas. He had been hit by a so-called "phantom-punch" many of the spectators had not even seen. In slow motion one can see Liston jabbing. Ali moves backwards, Liston misses and his head falls down for a part of a second. In this time, Ali counters with a right that lands on Listonís jaw. Sonny, having not seen the blow and thus not having prepared for it, goes down.
Seeing Liston on the canvas, Ali refused to go to the neutral corner but stood over Liston yelling: "Get up and fight, sucker!"
Former heavyweight champion Jersey Joe Walcott, who refereed the bout, unsuccessfully tried to push the rampageous Ali into the neutral corner and forgot to count Liston out who stood up after seventeen seconds. The fight was ended by Walcott after Nat Fleischer, editor of Ring Magazine, yelled into the ring that Liston had taken the count. Consequently, Walcott stopped the bout and declared Ali the winner.
Many spectators considered the bout fixed. The FBI investigated the case. More than one speculation circulated about Liston's fall.
1) While preparing for the fight, Liston was visited by Black Muslims who threatened to kill his daughter Eleanor if he should win the rematch.
2) Liston lay down for money.
3) Ali was supposed to be assassinated during the fight. Consequently, Liston decided to leave the ring as quick as possible to save his own life.
Ali contradicts in his autobiography "The Greatest": "Itís a matter of fact that no fight was less fixed than this one".
vs. Sonny Liston (I) - vs. Sonny Liston (II) - vs. Joe Frazier (I) - vs. George Foreman - vs. Joe Frazier (III)