Going by the National Boxing Association ratings ... whicih were the official ratings: Roger Rischer wasn't ranked when Sonny Liston fought him in 1968. Rischer was briefly seven years earlier. Rischer had quit the sport and was making a comeback after years away that saw him lose three of his five comeback bouts. Billy Hunter wasn't ranked when Sonny Liston fought him in 1958. Hunter was a no-name boxer who fell to 10 wins, 5 losses and 2 draws when Liston beat him. Hunter was later ranked for about a year when he scored a couple wins over Alex Miteff. Then Hunter went back to losing and dropped off the face of the earth. Nino Valdes wasn't ranked when Sonny Liston fought him in 1959. He'd already fallen all the way out of the top 10 after losses earlier that year to Charlie Powell and Alonzo Johnson. Cleveland Williams wasn't ranked in the top 10 when Sonny Liston fought him the first time in 1959 and stopped him in three. Mike DeJohn WAS ranked #9 when Sonny Liston fought him in 1959. After Liston won, DeJohn fell out of the top 10 for a bit, before creeping back into the bottom of the top 10 at the end of the year. Sonny Liston's ACTUAL title run went like this. Other than DeJohn, it basically all happened in 1960. Cleveland Williams was the #9 contender when they fought their rematch in 1960, and Williams subsequently dropped out of the top 10 when he was stopped in two. (Williams didn't return to the top 10 until well into 1961.) Roy Harris was the #6 contender when he and Liston signed to fight in 1960. Liston wiped him out in one round. Harris was bounced out of the top 10 forever. (Whether he should've ever been there is another debate.) Zora Folley was the #4 contender when he and Liston signed to fight in 1960. Liston was rated #1. Liston won impressively in three rounds. Eddie Machen was the #3 contender when he and Liston signed to fight in 1960. Liston was rated #1. The fight went the full 12-round distance. Machen's rating actually moved up to #2 based on his performance against Liston. That was a great run in 1960. It got everyone buzzing. Then Liston didn't fight any ranked fighters in 1961 ... basically rested on his laurels ... Didn't step up again until he faced Floyd Patterson who was the champion when they signed to fight in September 1962. But this nonsense of all those guys Liston beat in 1960 were ranked for years before that, therefore Sonny Liston was the best fighter for ALL those years prior TOO ... before he ever fought them ... Are just people trying to pump up Liston because he made one defense of his title. So they have to artificially stretch out his career for as long as possible prior to that. For about a year and a half he tore through a pretty stale top 10 and created a lot of excitement. And it culminated when he beat Patterson. People thought he was incredible for about three years - 1960 to 1963 - because they weren't happy with the division they had. Whether Liston was actually "incredible" or just better than that stale group he walked over that had been led by Patterson, Folley and Machen, is open to interpretation. But nobody thought he was the greatest pugilist ever prior to 1960 and nobody thought he was after he quit on his stool in February 1964.