Re: Sonny Liston - Had To Lose In Lewiston, Maine
SI article continued.......
There was a wonderful irrationality to Walcott's action, which was reflected in everything he said later. He stopped the fight, he admitted, only after he had been informed by Fleischer, who had no official connection with the match, that the count had reached 12. But moments earlier he obviously had been prepared to allow the bout to continue, possibly on the theory that since Clay had not gone to a neutral corner there had not been a count of 10. Immediately after he stopped the bout, however, Walcott told a reporter: "It didn't make any difference if I counted or not. I could have counted to 24. Liston was in a dream world, and the only thing that could have happened was that he'd be seriously hurt."
Watching Liston after the end, it was perfectly clear he had been badly—if not seriously—hurt. He stood vaguely for a moment, then staggered two steps backward as Reddish approached him and led him to his corner. It was about then, with the ring rapidly filling up with uninvited characters, that George Chuvalo, the Canadian heavyweight champion who had hoped to fight Liston if Sonny won, climbed through the ropes and shoved Clay, yelling, "Fix!" He was restrained, but later he said that he had seen Liston's eyes while the challenger was on the floor, and he knew that he was not in bad shape. "His eyes were darting from side to side like this," he said, darting his eyes from side to side. "When a lighter is hurt his eyes roll up."
In fact, Chuvalo was giving unwitting testimony to the power of the blow.
"Chuvalo is wrong," said Dr. Carroll L. Witten, former Kentucky State Boxing Commissioner, who has studied the reactions of knocked-out fighters. "The side-to-side movement of eyes is commonly associated with temporary unconsciousness and is one of the first things you look for. It is called nystagmus."
About half an hour after the fight, sitting on a training table and dressed in blue jeans, a gray sweat shirt and heavy brogans, Liston offered his own testimony.
"I didn't think he could hit that hard," he said, oddly cheerful. "But I couldn't pick up the count. I think," he added, apparently unaware that it was he who first resumed fighting after the knockdown, "I could have continued if I had picked up the count."
Had the fight been permitted to continue, it would have done Liston small good; Clay was in control from the opening surprise punch, and in all likelihood would have scored a second knockout.