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#4 Sonny Liston - Top 10 of Boxing’s Most Terrifying Fighters


Known as “The Big Bear,” Sonny Liston was an early version of George Foreman. Big, nasty, mean, and complete with power. With a knockout rate of nearly 80% for his career, early on only Marty Marshall found a way to escape the bombs Liston threw, winning an eight-round decision in just the eighth fight of Liston’s career. Liston would fight Marshall twice more, stopping him on a TKO in the sixth round in 1955 and then winning a decision over 10 rounds a year later.

Once he knocked out Marshall in the rematch, Liston started knocking down opponents. The next four opponents were victims of a TKO and then after the third match with Marshall, two more TKOs followed. Liston would build up to a 33-1 record when he finally received a title shot against then-champion Floyd Patterson. The result was brutal. In just one round Liston iced Patterson and then in a rematch from that 1962 fight on July 22, 1963, it was the same result.

Liston’s reign was not that long because, on February 25, 1964, The Big Bear accepted the challenge of a young upstart named Cassius Clay. Later to be Muhammad Ali, many of Clay’s handlers were a bit fearful of the hard-throwing, aggressive Liston. But as we all know Muhammad Ali feared none and had the utmost confidence in himself never seen before in a professional boxer.

Ali had predicted he would knock out Liston in eight rounds but he did it in six when the champion could not answer the bell for round eight. In a rematch just over a year later, this time Ali took care of him in one round with an ending coming as a result of what many have termed as a “phantom punch” The word fix came in but this argument has been going on ever since as to whether there was a fix or it was a real punch that landed. Ali not known as a knockout puncher made this more suspicious.
Aside from the Ali losses, Liston had an easy time with nearly every other opponent. When it came to the Ali fight, Liston had such a terroristic reputation, that even actor Hal March went public with his prediction saying “I think the fight will end in the dressing room. I think Clay is going to faint before he comes out.” Well, that wasn’t the case but if you throw out the Ali fights, Sonny Liston remains one of the most intimidating fighters ever.

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About the author

Harv Aronson

Harv Aronson was born and raised in Pittsburgh but now lives in Florida with his beautiful wife Melissa.

Harv currently writes for Abstract Sports, the Sports History Network, and the magazine Gridiron Greats. Harv wrote the published book "Pro Football's Most Passionate Fans" and as a professional writer has had articles published in an array of sports publications.

Harv loves all sports but football and baseball are at the top of his interest. His passion is for sports history. You can also watch Harv’s videos on his YouTube channel “Total Sports Recall.”

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