Feb. 9, 1964 - In Miami Beach today, Cassius Clay shuttered his one-man public relations firm, stowed away his soap box, and went to work in earnest. “He’s starting to concentrate on just one thing: beating Sonny Liston,” said Bill Faversham, the executive who acts as spokesman for Clay’s millionaire syndicate. “After watching Clay work, I must say I’m pleased.”
Abandoning his usual flow of verbiage, Cassius today went three rounds each with Cody Jones (left) and Dave Bailey, a pair of 215-pounders who appeared baffled by Clay’s jolting jabs and hooks. It was Clay’s best workout since he began training for his Feb. 25 shot at Liston’s heavyweight title.
Faversham said he had scheduled a conference with Clay tomorrow morning, but Clay’s latest adventure with the Black Muslims was not on the agenda.
“Naturally, nobody likes publicity that is unfavorable,” Faversham said. “But as far as this Muslim business goes, I think Clay has acted very dignified. I can only speak for myself, but I know my group feels as I do — Clay’s a human being, and we can hardly tell him how to think. We don’t know whether he is or isn’t a Muslim. But as long as he conducts himself with dignity, we won’t say anything. Leaving out such scenes as that one at the airport [when Liston arrived in Miami], I would say Cassius has acted very well. A lot of the things he’s done in the last three years have annoyed a lot of people. But we can’t have everything. Take a good but colorless ballplayer and put him against a fair ballplayer with color. The fans will flock to watch the colorful player every time. It’s the hotdogs, the guys who brawl with fans, the zany characters the crowds want to see. Clay has given boxing a boost it hasn’t had in years. You have to remember he’s just 22. There will be some emotional upheavals. But I’m positive he’ll be all right in a year or two.”
With less than two weeks to go, Liston also stepped up his pace today. Silent and expressionless, the big champion sparred with Herb Siler with such ferocity that trainer Willie Reddish yelled at him to slow up. In the second round, Siler was floored by a left hook.