I don't think Patterson was afraid of Liston either. I think he just got caught. Patterson was a small heavyweight, not physically strong, and things just went wrong for him. I've never thought Michael Spinks was scared either, he was fighting all right until he got caught. Patterson and Spinks were Olympic champions, they had seen a lot of fighters, can't imagine that either of them would be scared to the point of it affecting their performance by any opponent. With their amateur and professional background, they'd both probably sparred/fought fighters who were considered "monsters" when they were young, they probably got through those sessions, did well, built their confidence, and continued their careers. Long time fighters who start young usually experience a lot of things as they mature, being scared of opponents is something I've never seen from a fighter. In fact I've seen the opposite, if everyone thinks the opponent is a "monster", the fighter has no pressure and wants to prove people wrong. It's hard to believe that a fighter could win the Olympics, then the heavyweight championship and then fold because some opponent "mean mugs" him.