Clay Retains Heavyweight Title in Lewiston Arena

Lewiston lived up to its reputation as a fast-knockout town last night at the Youth Center when heavyweight champion Cassius M. A. Clay put away Charles (Sonny) Liston in a minute of the first round. Ring record books list Lewiston City Hall as the site of the fastest knockout in the prize ring, a Lewiston-Auburn fighter also was involved in one of the quickest knockouts ever recorded, and Tuesday’s episode was understood to be the shortest in the history of heavy championship bouts.

Unfortunately, or perhaps otherwise in the long run, there was a cloud of confusion surrounding the sudden finish which raised cries of “fake” and “fix” from members of the 5,000-odd spectator group, who incidentally probably did not fracture the building’s attendance record for paid witnesses set at a local schoolboy hockey game six years ago. The improbability of a nosedive by the challenger before so many people, millions of them counting television watchers and the movie-goers who doubtless will see this thing for many weeks to come, is so gigantic as to be staggering.

Many of the most promising bouts have come to similar unsatisfactory conclusions. If it had been a tanker Sonny could have made it look lots better with hardly any imagination at all.

What will last longer than the phony charge is the discussion of technicalities. There were authorities in the house who said Referee Joe Walcott and the other officials handled the affair properly. The timekeeper on the spot was Francis McDonough of Portland, a qualified veteran.

Other authoritative experts insisted they saw the punch that ended the performance, and called it a throat-blow to the Adam’s apple, the kind that causes its recipient to lose all interest in things for a considerable spell. Those who saw the events that closely evidently were few. Liston recovered and seemed ready to resume though not in good shape to do so when Walcott signaled the end.

Big Punch

The big punch was the first heavy one of the encounter. After it Liston folded and Clay stood over him shouting a steady stream of something or other and showed no interest in going to a neutral corner. There were boxing authorities who say he was not required to do so by the present rules.


Walcott, the man in the middle, seemed trying to keep Clay away but then went to the timekeeper in what was interpreted as an effort to pick up what the count was. Jersey Joe, a champion himself not many years ago and an experienced ringman who certainly knows the book, was said to have learned Liston was down for as many as 12, not just the required ten seconds, and did not let the participants renew the punching.

Clay, who wants to be known as Muhammed Ali, his Black Muslim name, was fighting on the run during the brief interval before he winged Sonny the sneak shot that laid him low. The knockdown was, naturally, the first of the bout. To questions as to whether the bout, timed at 1:45 according to reports of broadcast re-runs, was really a minute-even, the State boxing commission was quoted declaring the original one-minute announce time as correct.

Not the most popular of champions because of his Muslim affiliation and a tendency to braggadocis, Cassius in the brief period of the battling proved himself a swifty all right. Opinions that Sonny never wood have caught him were largely substantiated. He would have had to do a lot of chasing, and even though he was in magnificent condition there is doubt he could have kept it up long enough to pin this flying bird.

Clay, of Louisville, Ky., weighed a surprisingly light 206 at Tuesday’s noon weighing, and Liston 215½ on a revised announcement.

One thing Lewistonians were afraid of was a bad fight, and it was popularly pointed out his was what yesterday’s main event produced. And yet this little unpleasantness was handled by big-leaguers in a satisfactory setting, and if folks are dissatisfied Lewiston and Maine are not to blame. If the outcome was peculiar that in itself is nothing unusual, even in the big-time.

Secret Weapon

Cassius only hit his man one good one, a flick that may have been precisely what he said he was working on as a secret weapon. At a late hour no report had come forth that action to hold up the purse of either fighter because of a questionable performance was contemplated. Such had been the case when Clay took a seven-round TKO in their other meeting some 25 months ago in Miami, a match that ended with Liston failing to answer the bell and claiming a shoulder injury.

Sonny was fully recovered within a half hour of the session and was calmly answering questions and looking like the same rugged individual who finished his impressive training last week at Poland Spring. One of his responses indicated he intends to fight again, though it obviously won’t be Clay now that Cassius has gained his best tow out of three. In succession, Liston also maintained Cleveland Williams hits harder, it was understood.

Controversial opinions to the contrary, it appears the pay-offs will be on round one in this case, and forever.

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