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Billy Conn: Clay Has No Chance

Feb. 22, 1964 - Billy Conn (pictured fighting Joe Louis in 1946), the former heavyweight boxer, says he is playing it smart. “I won’t be in Miami for the [Clay-Liston] fight.” The reason? “Clay has no chance.”

Conn as a fighter was the complete professional from a technical standpoint. He had all the moves, and he knew where to put a thumb if it came to that. He feels Clay is a sideshow specimen masquerading as a pugilist.

“He’s a freak,” says Billy. “An amateur. I’m turning over in my sleep thinking of the money he’s getting. The first time I fought Joe Louis, I got $100,000 for it — and that was a real fight. Now, this guy figures to pick up $600,000 for a couple minutes’ work. Don’t tell me about inflation. That’s a gang of money any time. It’s killing me.”

Conn feels that Clay’s youth relative to Liston holds no particular advantage. “If you get hit on the chin, you’re just as cold if you’re 21 or 121. How dead do you have to be to be dead?”

“Nineteen fights Clay has had,” Billy continued. “Big deal. I’d had 60 or 70 when I fought Louis, and he still stretched me. And I’d been in there against guys like Fritzie Zivic, Oscar Rakins, Solly Krieger, Fred Apostoli, Gus Lesnevich. Clay hasn’t fought a fighter yet. If I was Clay, I’d run for my life as soon as the bell went off. But even that won’t save him. Ah well, he can laugh all the way to the next Black Muslim meeting. Only he won’t feel so good for a few days.”


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