Originally Posted by Stonehands89
I rebuke that notion.
It's heard out here all the time, most notably by Spoon. I think it is too casual an assertion and it is careless as well. It begs the question of objectivity. Liston was a "thug" -a real one, not a fake one like Tyson and these shithead rappers polluting American culture with bravado. Liston was bad and many civilized intelligent people disdained him because they feared what he represented. I only ask that we remain open-minded in looking at boxers who with unlikable personalities.
In fact, in head-to-head competition, I am forced by objective reasoning to place Liston atop the biggest hill of vanguished hypothetical ex-champs. Ali is second. My arguments in defense of this admittedly controversial position have been noted before.
The problem with the detractors is a preoccupation with his brief reign and a failure to consider the context of his controversial connections, bad luck, and age. Spoon's arguments are just not very strong. You profess that he was KOd in 1965 as if that is any kind of meaningful measure. Spoon questions his wiring and makes the silly assertion that his heart was Tysonesque. That is crap.
Liston was an owned man. The strings attached to his career were held in formidable hands and Liston did as he was told. What happened in Maine has overwhelming evidence that, though circumstantial, cannot be dismissed. Someone asserted that Liston simply didn't see the shot from Ali. That is laughable. Liston wasn't stopped until he was about 39 years old (Martin) and was more of a functional drunk than a formidable destroyer. -And even in that fight, he was looking pretty damn good before the boom got dropped. Have you read Wepner's account of his fight with Liston?
During his prime years, Liston was also avoided. He had earned a title shot earlier than he got it and everyone knew it; he was forced to clean out the division to force Floyd's conscience. Meanwhile, he was getting older.
If you are considering hypothetical match-ups, it is right to look at two things first and foremost: strength and style. The record comes second... which is why I chose Pavlik to KO Taylor despite that clear fact that Taylor had faced far superior competition.
An objective anaysis of Liston's strength forces the conclusion that he was more of a complete HW than almost anyone before or after him. Listing his strengths would take far less time than listing his weaknesses... I see one, average speed. He could be a bit predictable as well, although usually he was predictably dominant.
The point of these head to head is that they are only opinions-and they have two flaws:
1. They are totally unsubstantiated opinion
2. I notice that normally one picks a few bouts at his own guys peak and then tears down the opposition on the basis of much longer top-level performances. We had a classic of this with Liston and Louis where one poster kept bringing up Louis' loss to Schmeling. Louis was two years into his pro career and 22 years old. Could Liston in 1955 have beaten Schmeling? I doubt it, and I don't think anyone has any proof he could. So claims that Liston would do better are based on a peak Liston, but a peak Louis slaughtered Schmeling in one erasing the whole point.
Your reasoning is no more or less objective than anyone elses. And spare the psychobabble about why someone might not concur with Liston sweeping the top ten heavies in history. Their reason might be that they just don't see him as being quite as overpowering as you do. Personally, I find Liston the most interesting and sympathetic of heavyweight champions. That does not mean he is the best.
You rate Liston "on top of the hill" over even Ali, who badly defeated him twice. Ali was green in 1964. He clearly improved later, but Liston lost badly in 1964. Even in 1960 he was unable to catch the not nearly as fast moving Machen. I don't see him ever catching a top Ali.
As for his detracters focusing on his brief reign. I would focus more on Liston only defeating three men, Folley, Machen, and Patterson, who were rated in the top five when he fought them. All lost to others at their peak at about the same time Liston beat them--Patterson was ko'd by Johansson, Folley beaten by Cooper, and ko'd by Lavorante and Jones, Machen ko'd by Johansson, and outpointed by Folley and Johnson.
I would say there is just too wide a gap between his accomplishments and the level some are putting him at, as a likely winner over Ali, Louis, or Lewis, especially. With Lewis, for example, Liston was ko'd at 37 by the ordinary Martin. At 38, Lewis defeated the much, much bigger and more skilled Vitali Klitschko.
I have just been watching Liston on film, to refresh my memory, and I must say his supporters have one good point. He is more impressive on film than his resume would lead one to think.
I must say, though, that Patterson is far less so. Patterson seems to be neither fish nor fowl as a heavyweight. He did not have good enough movement to box to top standard, and neither his chin, nor perhaps even his punch, were strong enough to justify the swarming style of a Dempsey or Marciano or Tyson. I know Patterson had crushing knockouts of Moore, Johansson, and Cooper, but more often than not he went a long way with decent heavyweights. Jackson, Harris, London, Machen, Chuvalo, Quarry twice, Ellis, and Bonavena all went ten or more. Johansson and Cooper, moreover, were not noted for having good chins.