The birth of The Greatest: Reliving Muhammad Ali's rivalry with Sonny Liston

Clay was a bright prospect having won gold at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, but he faced an uphill task of taking on the deadliest puncher boxing had witnessed at the time in "Big Bear".

Due to the underwhelming performances of Cassius Clay in his two previous bouts, Sonny Liston was fancied to comprehensively beat the undefeated 19-0 Olympian.

Liston, the WBA, WBC, the Ring and lineal heavyweight champion, destroyed Floyd Patterson twice in his most recent bouts while Clay had mustered up below-par wins over Henry Cooper and compatriot Doug Jones.

The build-up between the duo was a feisty affair with Clay promising to leave more than blood to be left in the ring. His absurd behaviour saw him receive a fine of $2,500.

His heart rate at the time of making the statement was at 120 beats per minute; most believed it was a sign of nerves and intimidation from Clay, who was terrified at the prospect of sharing the ring with Liston.

However, his poetic speech to Liston below, suggests otherwise…

"Now Clay swings with a right, what a beautiful swing.

"And the punch raises the Bear clear out of the ring.

"Liston is still rising, and the ref wears a frown.

"For he can't start counting `til Sonny comes down.

"Now Liston disappears from view.

"The crowd is getting frantic,

"But our radar stations have picked him up. He's somewhere over the Atlantic.

"Who would have thought when they came to the fight

"That they'd witness the launching of a human satellite.

"Yes, the crowd did not dream when they lay down their money

"That they would see a total eclipse of the Sonny.

"I am the greatest."

At the age of 22, entering the ring at 210-pounds, Clay defied all odds in Miami to become the youngest heavyweight to defeat a defending world champion - Mike Tyson would later break that record in 1986, aged 20.

Liston, the most feared heavyweight fighter on land prior to their first encounter, was no longer after getting dismantled by Clay throughout the bout.

The fight ended when Liston refused to get back off his stool going into the seventh.

The rematch

Following his famous win in Miami, Clay converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. His decision received a huge backlash from the press, boxing fans and your average Joe.

"I believe in Allah and in peace," Ali said.

"I don't try to move into white neighborhoods. I don't want to marry a white woman. I was baptized when I was 12, but I didn't know what I was doing. I'm not a Christian anymore.

"I know where I'm going and I know the truth and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want."

Liston secured a rematch after noting a shoulder injury as the reason behind the loss at the Convention Center.

The second duel, however, ended in quicker fashion with Ali repeating his win, this time in 104 seconds with a Phantom Punch.

Did the punch genuinely knock Liston out or did "Big Bear" take a dive because of the mob? 

These days, premium fighters enter the ring twice, maybe three times if we are lucky.

Ali went on to defend his world titles on EIGHT occasions in 21 months and included wins against Floyd Patterson and Henry Cooper before being forced to vacate those belts because of his refusal to serve in the Vietnam War. 

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