Originally Posted by Sweet Pea
Liston would handle Foreman. And Ali's "phantom punch"
that floored Liston was a dive on Liston's part.
Watch that knockout carefully, frame by frame. Compare it with the right hand Ali used to KO Zora Folley in round 7. Virtually identical.
"Ali knocked Folley out in the seventh with a right hand of similar speed to the one that had finished Sonny Liston."
One of Ali's carefully crafted techniques was to square off slightly from the waist up, while keeping his feet properly positioned. You can clearly see Ali anticipating the opponent's left jab, ready with a quick, light, right hand, thrown a little high and very slightly looped over the opponent's left shoulder. It was a perfect technique for taller opponents who didn't throw many left hooks.
It was also the very same technique that left Ali vulnerable to left hooks from Henry Cooper and Joe Frazier. Notice how often Ali got caught with solid left hooks and how relatively seldom he was nailed with rights. It was a tradeoff, one that usually worked in Ali's favor.
As if Foreman had the skills to time a shot from Liston. Foreman had power but not the skill to outbox somebody, especially with someone with as good a jab and outside game as Liston, and one to match his power(or at least come close). Liston was better than Foreman.
Look at the stats, level of competition, style, size, everything. Foreman was clearly bigger, stronger, more versatile (tho' this showed up mostly in ver. 2 of Big George), with a less predictable offense. Liston's offense was so mechanical he resembled a 1950s sci-fi robot. That's why Ali and Leotis Martin were able to time Liston's jab so easily - and Martin had to come off the canvas and overcome a near kayo to do it.
Even an old George Foreman was able to beat a younger, faster man with a better jab and outside game - Michael Moorer, who was a southpaw on top of it all.
Ken Norton was as big and strong as Liston, with nearly as good a jab, and was technically better overall.
Liston was maybe 6'1" and no more than 220 lbs. in his best shape. Foreman was 6'4" and the first "super-heavyweight" of the post-modern era who didn't look like a gawky freak at that size. If anything, he was underweight and starved at 225 lbs.
Liston was a tough customer, no doubt, but he wouldn't hold up against Foreman, if for no better reason than because Foreman held an edge in heart. Liston, like Mike Tyson, tended to cave in mentally after a few rounds against a good opponent if he met firm resistance.