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Old 07-16-2007, 05:06 PM   #1
mr. magoo
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Default Liston's prime

A fair argument can be made that there were some fighters in boxing history who were better before they became champions. I'm going to guess that Sonny Liston was one of those guys. From about 1958 to 1962, Charles absolutely pulverized the heavyweight division. In 1960 alone, he fought five times beating Cleveland Williams, Zora Folley, Howard King, Roy Harris and Eddie Machen. By the time he fought Clay ( 4 years later ), his activity levels had diminshed to about one fight per year. What's more, he was listed as being 32 years old, but according to some historians may even have been as old as 35.

Anyone got any thoughts on Sonny's early career?
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Old 07-16-2007, 05:32 PM   #2
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I think you make a fair point; he cleared the division as challanger rather than champ.
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Old 07-17-2007, 02:56 AM   #3
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Default Re: Liston's prime

Liston beat a game cleveland williams & knocked out everyone else in his way... In my opinion he was one of the greatest..... but he could have been better had he gotten a shot at the title earlier
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Old 07-17-2007, 03:21 AM   #4
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Default Re: Liston's prime

Even after he lost to Ali he was actively whoopin' asses.. and for a long time, too.. until getting knocked out by Leotis Martin.

Liston was something else.
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Old 07-17-2007, 05:43 AM   #5
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Default Re: Liston's prime

Nice post Master Magoo, and a fine little follow up by McGrain.
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:49 AM   #6
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Default Re: Liston's prime

Liston was devastating in his prime. I think his best display of boxing skills is 2nd whitehurst fight in 1958, pop in the DVD and watch. I think his best display in general is his brutalization of contender granite chinned wayne bethea in 58 seconds. liston weighed 204lb that fight and looked leaner faster sharper than ever
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Old 12-13-2007, 12:13 PM   #7
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Default Re: Liston's prime

Sonny liked the whiskey, the craps tables and the broads.

I think it's common knowledge that he indulged himself more after the first Patterson fight, cut down on his training, and with him averaging 2 or 3 rounds of "competitive" boxing each year, his skills were no doubt eroding by the time he faced Patterson again. He was slowed up a fair bit by the time he fought Clay but Clay probably woulda made him look slow anyway.
BOTH Clay fights might have been fixed, but nothing is certain.

I agree with SuzieQ about the 2nd Whitehurst fight, great, great boxing, very controlled use of the jab and Sonny seems to do damage against a cagey opponent and rarely has to step up a gear. Whitehurst barely survived the fight.

1958 to 1962 was Liston's prime. He eliminated all the available leading contenders by end of 1960, and when he got the champ in the ring it lasted 2 minutes 6 seconds.
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Old 12-13-2007, 02:43 PM   #8
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Default Re: Liston's prime

The encyclopaedia britannica used to list his birth date as 1919, so he could have been anything up to 45 when he fought ali.
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Old 12-13-2007, 03:04 PM   #9
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Default Re: Liston's prime

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokin'Joe100
The encyclopaedia britannica used to list his birth date as 1919, so he could have been anything up to 45 when he fought ali.
I suppose nothings impossible, but I think 45 could be stretching things a bit.
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Old 12-13-2007, 04:15 PM   #10
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Default Re: Liston's prime

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokin'Joe100
The encyclopaedia britannica used to list his birth date as 1919, so he could have been anything up to 45 when he fought ali.
Actually, the majority of the encyclopedia's list his birthdate in 1932, which makes him 32 for the Clay fight.
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Old 12-13-2007, 08:23 PM   #11
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Default Re: Liston's prime

Haha i know 45 is ludicrous. I myself believe Liston was born around 1932. It just puzzles me why the Encyclopaedia Britannica, one of the foremost encyclopaedias in the world would list his birth date as 1919? I don't even know where they would have got that figure from. One thing for sure is Liston was NOT 45 when he fought Ali.
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:31 PM   #12
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Default Re: Liston's prime

I believe that research was done, the 1930 census report, for whatever that's worth, showed that Liston was most likely born after that year as his family reported on it but Charles was not listed.

Part of what makes many fighters so good are the years that they had before they became champ. I was going to start a thread on it.

When a fighter is denied/ducked for a championship they have to stay hungry,
it's one thing to build a career it's another thing to be the champ. Being the champ gets you the most money and can make you soft. When you are fighting to be champ you have to take on the other top contenders to get to that point plus the champion himself. After that, it can be down hill for many, many a fighter because you have reached your goal.

One of the main reasons why Louis and Ali are so readily the one 1 and
2 guys is they had several years where they were champion. A lot of guys have zero successful defenses or are one and done type guys.

taking the heavyweight champs as an example you could say that
Corbett, Johnson, Willard, Dempsey, Tunney (at the lighter weights), Sharkey, Baer, Braddock, Charles (lighter weights), Walcott, Liston, Frazier, Forman, Holmes all had their best wins before/when they became champ. All did their best work before (and in the rare case of Patterson for example after or Schmeling before and after). You could extend that argument to Tyson and Lewis if you only count being undisputed (doing the best before and when they took the title). You could really make that argument for Louis as well, the way he had to beat just about everyone in the top ten to get a title shot. You could even make the argument that before title, Jeffries fought both black and white fighters, after the title only the top white fighters.

winning the championship for a lot of fighters means its all downhill from there.

Liston is a prime example because he clearly was at the top of his game before he won the title. Being avoided during those Patterson years he fought all that was around for over a couple of solid years. If he would have been more of a "normal contender" he would have beat DeJohn, Williams and Valdez and then maybe made a jump up. He wasn't so he went on to beat Williams again, Besmanoff, Harris, Folley, Machen and then Patterson.

I think it was one of the reasons that the black dynamite heavies were so good. They were frozen out of the championship picture and they continued to take on top guys (often each other) when they maybe would have been champ and could have played it safer.
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