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The television series I've Got a Secret did multiple segments about the title fight. Panelists Bill Cullen, Henry Morgan and Betsy Palmer predicted that Liston would win in the third, second, and first rounds, respectively. Host Garry Moore was even more pessimistic about Clay's chances, estimating a Liston knockout "in the very early moments of round one," adding, "if I were Cassius, I would catch a cab and leave town." Actor Hal March went a step further, albeit humorously: "I think the fight will end in the dressing room. I think [Clay] is going to faint before he comes out."
As the bell sounded for the seventh round, Clay was the first to notice that Liston had spat out his mouth guard. Clay moved to the middle of the ring with his arms raised, dancing the jig that would become known as the "Ali Shuffle" while Howard Cosell, broadcasting at ringside, shouted "wait a minute! Wait a minute! Sonny Liston is not coming out!" Liston failed to answer the bell for the seventh round, and Clay was declared the winner by technical knockout. Liston became the first World Champion since Jess Willard in 1919 to retire on his stool during a Heavyweight title fight. At that point the bout was level on the official scorecards of the referee and two judges.
The promoters needed a new location quickly, whatever the size, to rescue their closed circuit television commitment around the country. Governor John H. Reed of Maine stepped forward, and within a few hours, the promoters had a new site: Lewiston, Maine, a mill town with a population of about 41,000 located 140 miles (230 km) north of Boston. Inter-Continental obtained a permit and made an arrangement to work with local promoter Sam Michael. The venue selected was the Central Maine Youth Center (now called Androscoggin Bank Colisée), a junior hockey rink. Lewiston was the smallest city to host a heavyweight title bout since Jack Dempsey fought Tom Gibbons in Shelby, Montana (population 3,000) in 1923. It remains the only heavyweight title fight held in the state of Maine.
During a 1995 HBO documentary about Liston, Johnny Tocco, who owned a boxing gym in Las Vegas, said he spoke with mobster John Vitale before the rematch and was told not to pay any attention to what he heard about the fight. He also told Tocco that he should be glad that he wasn't going to Lewiston. When Tocco asked why, Vitale told him that the fight was going to end in the first round.
For those who believe that Liston took a dive, there are a number of theories as to why, including:(1) The Mafia forced Liston to throw the fight as part of a betting coup.(2) Liston bet against himself and took a dive because he owed money to the Mafia.(3) A couple of members of the Nation of Islam visited Liston's training camp and told Liston they would kill him if he won the rematch.(4) Author Paul Gallender claims that members of the Nation of Islam kidnapped Liston's wife, Geraldine, and Liston's son, Bobby. Liston was told to lose the fight to Ali or he would never see his family again.(5) Liston was afraid that he would be accidentally shot by followers of Malcolm X as they tried to kill Ali in the ring. There were also claims attributed to Liston and others that he threw the fight in return for a share of the more marketable Ali's future purses. Credence to these claims is provided by the fact that after his last fight, with Chuck Wepner, Liston seemed more preoccupied in supporting the proposed Ali-Frazier bout and Ali's claims to the title than about his own career.
In the final analysis, it remains inconclusive whether the blow in Lewiston was a genuine knockout punch. The fact that Liston didn't complain about the clear breach of boxing rules (being declared knocked out without a count) and Ali's obvious state of bewilderment, shouting at Liston "Nobody will believe this" and asking his handlers "Did I hit him?" confirmed most people's belief that Liston took a dive.
BoxRec ranks Liston as among the 10 best heavyweights in the world in 15 different years (1954-1956 and 1958-1969), placing him at No.1 from 1958-1962 and the fourth-greatest of all time. Ring Magazine ranked him as the tenth greatest heavyweight of all time, while boxing writer Herb Goldman ranked him second and Sports Illustrated placed him third. Alfie Potts Harmer in The Sportster ranked him the sixth greatest boxer of all time, pound for pound. In his book, The Gods of War, Springs Toledo argued that Liston, when at his peak in the late 1950s and early 1960s, could be favored to beat just about every heavyweight champion in the modern era with the possible exception of Muhammad Ali. This view is shared by boxing writer Frank Lotierzo who ranks Liston as one of the top 5 heavyweights of all time and possibly the best. Liston and Ali were both inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Pulver entered as the champ, having won the title the previous February in a bout with Caol Uno and successfully defending it against Dennis Hallman. Penn arrived as the ascending challenger, fresh off an 11-second knockout win over Uno and brandishing a 3-0 mark after his first year as a professional fighter.
B.J. Penn secures a rear choke submission against Matt Hughes during their welterweight championship bout at UFC 46 inside the Mandalay Bay Events Center on January 25, 2004 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier exchange punches in their UFC light heavyweight championship bout during the UFC 182 event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 3, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
As well winning the interim strap from the WBO, most importantly Joyce defended his place as the leading challenger for their full heavyweight championship, one of the three title belts held by Ukrainian star Oleksandr Usyk.
After retaining three of the four recognized world heavyweight championships, Usyk was asked the obvious question of whether he intended to look to become the undisputed champion by going after the WBC belt currently held by Tyson Fury. Fury has repeatedly claimed he has retired from boxing, though many believe he could be coaxed back to the ring with the promise of an undisputed title fight.
Twenty-five years have melted away since Vaden became the only native San Diegan to capture a world boxing championship with a technical knockout of Vincent Pettway on Aug. 12, 1995, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
In the televised opener, Tavoris Cloud (20-0, 18 KOs) makes the first defense of his light heavyweight belt against former champion Glen Johnson (50-13-2, 34 KOs). In another world title bout (although one that isn't part of the HBO telecast), St. Louis' Cory Spinks (37-5, 11 KOs) makes a mandatory defense of his junior middleweight title against Cornelius "K9" Bundrage (29-4, 17 KOs).
Now, Alexander faces the rugged, 32-year-old Kotelnik -- a 2000 Olympic silver medalist and the only man to hang a loss on fearsome puncher Marcos Maidana, but who also has losses to Witter and titleholder Amir Khan -- hoping to thrill the hometown faithful and move on to massive business in one of boxing's most loaded divisions.
"My whole career, I have counseled young boxers that they have an opportunity to do great things, win titles and earn the type of money normally reserved for people of a different background," King said. "Then here comes Devon, a kid from Vashon High, who not only is tearing up one of the toughest divisions in boxing, but he wants to be a role model for kids in St. Louis and around the country. This young man is special. He is a gift from God."
Even more than the three fighters Cunningham mentioned as potential future Alexander opponents, there is the much-discussed showdown with Timothy Bradley Jr., who also holds a belt. He and Alexander rank as the top two in the division. Bradley fought last month and rolled to a decision against Luis Carlos Abregu at welterweight. He's likely headed back to 140, where a unification showdown with Alexander is one of boxing's most anticipated bouts.
Pacquiao and Marquez fought to a controversial draw in their first fight, one that many believed Marquez won, for the featherweight championship. Pacquiao claimed a controversial split decision in their rematch for the junior lightweight title, another fight many believed Marquez won.
9:50 p.m. BST/4:50 p.m. ET: Zhang is in the ring and here comes the similarly unbeaten Filip Hrgovic. The Croatian has won all 14 of his professional fights, with 12 inside the distance. Zhang is 24-0-1 with 19 knockouts but is 39. This feels like it's Hrgovic's time. He wants the winner of Usyk vs. Joshua 2 and this bout doubles up as an eliminator for a shot at the IBF title, one of the three major belt Usyk ripped from Joshua last September.
The Cuban boxing scene has long been a hotbed of talent, and starting young is key. Filmmaker Andrew Lang unobtrusively films three scrawny pre-teen boys as they train for the National Boxing Championships, but reveals much about their impoverished living conditions in the process. Indoctrinated into proud nationalism in spite of their circumstances, the boys wake at 4am to fit their training around school. But Lang is careful not to make any explicit social or political commentary, instead letting events unfold in a naturalistic and nonetheless compelling way.
WBO junior lightweight champion Shakur Stevenson and WBC champion Oscar Valdez have finalized terms for a title unification bout on April 30 at MGM Grand Garden, according to people with knowledge of the negotiations.
Richard and Nieves knew Prichard, their second of three children, always wanted to box. He was training in the garage with Richard, who had boxed under Felix Trinidad Sr., by the time he was 8. When he was in the fifth grade, he wrote an acrostic and each letter spelled out everything he aspired to accomplish. They were all about boxing. He traveled to youth tournaments and won them. One time, when they were returning from an event in Kansas City, Mo., a 10-year-old Prichard told his father he wanted to represent Puerto Rico in the Olympics, even though he was born in Maitland, Fla. 2b1af7f3a8