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Old 09-04-2013, 09:50 AM   #1
demigawd
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Default Why did Clay get top billing over Liston in their first fight?

Has anybody noticed that the fight was billed "Clay vs. Liston" instead of "Liston vs. Clay"? Why is that? Liston was the reigning, dominant champion, he was a massive favourite, and he was arguably more popular at the time. He also entered the ring first, though he was introduced second.

Was this simply the tradition at the time, or is there something more to it?
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Old 09-04-2013, 11:35 AM   #2
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Default Re: Why did Clay get top billing over Liston in their first fight?

Probably the same reason Leonard got top billing over Duran: Olympic prestige.

Wait, aren't you supposed to introduce the champ second so that his cheers aren't drowned out by the contender? I thought that was something of a tradition, even though it has been discarded at times. I believe I saw a documentary where Holmes mentioned being offended that Cooney was introduced after him or something in their fight.

Also, I've heard that back in the day the champ would wear white shorts and the contender black to differentiate them for the public. But Tyson liked to wear black shorts, and the shorts have been all kinds of colors and patterns in recent decades, so there's no longer any uniformity there.
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Old 09-04-2013, 11:44 AM   #3
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Default Re: Why did Clay get top billing over Liston in their first fight?

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Originally Posted by Ovid***ile View Post
Probably the same reason Leonard got top billing over Duran: Olympic prestige.

Wait, aren't you supposed to introduce the champ second so that his cheers aren't drowned out by the contender? I thought that was a something of a tradition, even though it has been discarded at times. I believe I saw a documentary where Holmes mentioned being offended that Cooney was introduced after him or something in their fight.

Also, I've heard that back in the day the champ would wear white shorts and the contender black to differentiate them for the public. But Tyson liked to wear black shorts, and the shorts have been all kinds of colors and patterns in recent decades, so there's no longer any uniformity there.
Leonard was the champion, and Duran challenging for Leonard's welterweight title. Leonard was supposed to get top billing for that fight.
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Old 09-04-2013, 11:59 AM   #4
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Default Re: Why did Clay get top billing over Liston in their first fight?

Where did he get top billing? All the posters I've seen, Liston gets top billing, as you'd expect.

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Old 09-04-2013, 12:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: Why did Clay get top billing over Liston in their first fight?

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Originally Posted by SolomonDeedes View Post
Where did he get top billing? All the posters I've seen, Liston gets top billing, as you'd expect.

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The fight itself. At the 2:40 mark.

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Old 09-04-2013, 01:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: Why did Clay get top billing over Liston in their first fight?

I dont think that means anything. Liston entered the ring second, as champions usually do, and was announced last as champions usually are. Theres no telling who put those graphics together for the broadcast anyway. Likely it was a non boxing person who had no idea.
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Old 09-04-2013, 04:12 PM   #7
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Default Re: Why did Clay get top billing over Liston in their first fight?

Conspiracy.
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Old 09-06-2013, 04:12 AM   #8
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Default Re: Why did Clay get top billing over Liston in their first fight?

Yeah, the broadcast graphics are unusual to have it Clay v Liston.
I take it the posters had it the correct way.

Perhaps this suggests that Cassius Clay was considered the "TV star" by the network.
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Old 09-06-2013, 10:05 AM   #9
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Default Re: Why did Clay get top billing over Liston in their first fight?

Clay was the Olympic gold medalist, the star, the salesman, the talker, the good looking kid, who sold the event, whereas Liston was seen as a sullen ex-con thug whom folks weren't even happy about being champion owing to his past, who dethroned the beloved Patterson.
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Old 09-06-2013, 02:06 PM   #10
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Default Re: Why did Clay get top billing over Liston in their first fight?

Is it possible that at the time the fight was billed as Liston v Clay, but as the years have passed and Ali became of greater historical significance, it has been changed retrospectively to Clay v Liston?
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Old 09-06-2013, 03:42 PM   #11
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Default Re: Why did Clay get top billing over Liston in their first fight?

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Originally Posted by Ovid***ile View Post
Wait, aren't you supposed to introduce the champ second so that his cheers aren't drowned out by the contender?
Sean O'Grady had a funny take on that:

You fight your whole career to become a champion, you finally reach the top and then you defend your title and you're just an opponent.

Because they always introduce the challenger and then say "and his opponent ..."

Sean's a pretty quick-witted guy.
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