Ali's half-hearted right hook became instantly known as the "phantom punch" and Liston's collapse was dismissed as a dive. Nothing in boxing has accrued quite so much lore as the so-called phantom punch that felled Sonny Liston—unless he felled himself—in the Ali-Liston rematch in May of 1965. Ali definitely threw a right hander. A NOTE ABOUT RELEVANT ADVERTISING: We collect information about the content (including ads) you use across this site and use it to make both advertising and content more relevant to you on our network and other sites. Yahoo is part of Verizon Media. This article originally appeared on the NZ Herald and was reproduced with permission, To join the conversation, please Log in. He would win it back, having forfeited a big stretch of his prime. Whatever it was, it caused Liston – who had come into the ring looking like his usual 215lb package of muscle and malign intentions – to fall on his back, roll over on to his front, try to rise, fail, then try again and briefly succeed before the confused referee, the former champion Jersey Joe Walcott, belatedly indicated, after consulting the timekeeper, that the challenger had not made the count of 10. Even before the first punch was thrown, the May 25, 1965 bout between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston, during which the photo was snapped, was already shaping up to be the stuff of legends. These were the fights that put him on the map as one of the top fighters in the world and truly begun to build his reputation in the sport. The memorable moment, of Ali snarling while apparently swiping a right hand, was caught by photographers Neil Leifer and John Rooney. The winner might suspect that something had been amiss, but he would never know for sure. You can change your choices at any time by visiting Your Privacy Controls. Leifer produced his own count for that night. What the photo doesn’t portray is that Liston did get up. Even before the first punch was thrown, the May 25, 1965 bout between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston, during which the photo was snapped, was already shaping up to be the stuff of legends. And 50 years ago this Monday, in the midst of that social, political and cultural maelstrom, the former Cassius Clay, fighting for the first time as Muhammad Ali, took one minute and 44 seconds to demolish Sonny Liston’s attempt to recapture his world heavyweight title. The image of Muhammad Ali standing over Sonny Liston in 1965 became the most famous photo in sport. In the final three rounds of the fight, Liston wore down progressively due to the punishment that Ali was handing out. But there were actually two of them. After experiencing trouble in finding a venue for the rematch, the promoters settled on St Dominic’s Hall in out-of-the-way Lewiston. Five years after the phantom punch controversy, Liston was dead, heroin found near his body. The damage was done. © Copyright 2020 Endgame360 Inc. All Rights Reserved. Referee Jersey Joe Wolcott could not keep Ali confined to a neutral corner and lost control of the count. The nature of the decisive blow merely added to the growing mystique of a boxer who seemed to have found a whole new way to fight. The pair were later convicted of conspiracy and extortion in connection with their boxing activities and Palermo served seven years of a 25-year prison sentence before dying, aged 91, in 1996. Sign up, Join the conversation, you are commenting as Logout. The most iconic photo in boxing history documents the knockout that almost nobody saw happen. The finishing blow became known as "the phantom punch," since it almost appeared never to have existed in the first place. During his rise towards international fame he was managed by Frank “Blinky” Palermo, a Philadelphia-based associate of the notorious Frankie Carbo, who – among other distinctions – had organised the murder of Bugsy Siegel in 1947. The punch that ended the second fight of Muhammad Ali versus Sonny Liston; Neil Lefner's iconic sports photograph of Ali taunting the stricken Liston to "get up and fight"; Phantom Punch, a 2008 Sonny Liston biopic starring Ving Rhames; Phantom Punch… There has never been any clear-cut answer to what transpired, but it’s an iconic moment captured by an incredible photo that helped jump-start Ali’s legacy. The World Boxing Association — one of several boxing organizations — was not too pleased, moving to strip Ali of his title and advising states not to agree to host the rematch. Phantom Punch is a 2008 film directed by Robert Townsend.The film is a biopic of Sonny Liston, with Ving Rhames in the lead role. That only added more fuel to the fire around the second match as the two were garnering much attention for their involvement out of the ring. On this night in 1965, Ali leveled Liston and an iconic photo forever immortalized the moment. Phantom Punch may refer to: . Liston had thrown a jab with his left arm and, leaning forward, took a right hook from Ali right to the skull. Technically, contracts for boxing matches weren’t supposed to have rematch clauses, though pretty much all of them had some sort of loophole and agreement when each side wanted to guarantee a return bout — again, the laws by which boxing governed itself were really more suggestions at the time. On the other side of the ring, Ali had become the unofficial face of the paramilitary group the Fruit of Islam, and Liston had reported receiving death threats from the group. Last modified on Wed 21 Feb 2018 20.20 GMT. Ali lived up to his pre-fight jabbering as the bout went six rounds with him taking control quite early in the third round onward. Ali is seen snarling over Liston, the scary fighter a brash young boxer named Cassius Clay had surprisingly beaten for the world heavyweight title 15 months earlier. Ahead of their first meeting, Ali was seen as the huge underdog in the fight as he was still on the rise as a young and promising fighter. Incitement to racial hatred was banned in the UK. These were incredible times, socially and politically, and Ali had changed his name after joining the Nation of Islam between the two Liston fights. Following Clay's upset victory over Liston, both fighters were almost immediately embroiled in controversy that was considered detrimental to the sport of boxing. Boxing fans wanted to see the real deal. Lyndon Johnson sent the first ground troops to Vietnam. UNITED STATES - MAY 25: Boxing: World Heavyweight Title: Muhammad Ali in action after first round knockout of Sonny Liston at St. Dominic's Arena.
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