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Dundee: “I Won’t Let Clay Hurt Liston at Weigh-In”

Feb. 17, 1964 - The Miami Beach Boxing Commission will take a chance that Sonny Liston won’t knock out Cassius Clay at the weigh-in for next Tuesday’s heavyweight title fight. Despite protestations by Liston’s adviser, Jack Nilon, the commission decided today that the heavyweight champ must get on the scales at the same time as Clay — at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. When Nilon insisted Liston was angry and “might knock out the kid at the weigh-in,” Angelo Dundee, Clay’s trainer said the idea was ridiculous. “You can assure Liston I won’t let Clay hurt him” at the weigh-in, Dundee assured Nilon.

For the first time in a title bout, the bell won’t save a fighter who is down. If either one is on the floor when the round ends, the count will continue into the rest period. The knockout would then be registered as having arrived in the previous round. A mandatory eight-count will be in effect, but the three-knockdown rule will be waived.

Asked today if he would give Liston a rematch if he won, Clay drew laughter from reporters when he shot back: “After I finish with Liston, he’d rather run through hell in a gasoline sports coat than fight me again.” Clay was impressive in four rounds of sparring. He stressed a bob-weave defense against hooks for the first time as light heavyweight Willie Pastrano watched in approval.

“He’s his own worst enemy,” said Pastrano, “with his tendency to drop his hands and lean back from punches instead of back-pedaling. He might lick Liston. But he’s got to do it with speed, always moving from side to side and boxing. He doesn’t lean back as much as he used to, but he still does it against guys who are shorter than him. They don’t land. But a man with longer arms like Liston is likely to nail him quick.”

Liston? He took the day off because, Cassius insisted, “He’s a lazy old bear.”


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