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Liston: I’ll Win by KO Within Three Rounds

Feb. 23, 1964 - Heavyweight champion Sonny Liston predicted a knockout within three rounds today as he finished training for Tuesday night’s title defense against Cassius Clay at the Miami Beach Convention Hall. “I am in the best condition of my life for this fight,” the 30-year-old champion said. He said he expected to weigh about 215 pounds. For this bout, he pared down from 233 pounds, his weight when he began sparring sessions at Las Vegas on Jan. 10.

Because Liston continued to be a 7-1 favorite as fight night comes close, ticket sales in Miami Beach for the fight at Convention Hall were so slow that it appeared promoters Bill MacDonald and Chris Dundee of Miami Beach would be lucky if their gross gate hit $500,000.

Jack Nilon (left), adviser to Liston, disclosed that attorneys are investigating three large theaters in New Orleans because of reports that segregation is being practiced in the sale of tickets for the closed-circuit fight there. Nilon explained to the press that it was Liston who had first received reports of segregation in New Orleans and had asked for the probe because the contracts under which the closed-circuit rights were sold specifically forbade any segregation.

In a poll conducted today, Liston was favored by 43 of 46 writers covering the fight. It was the most lopsided balloting ever experienced by UPI before any major title fight in any division. The press and public apparently lost confidence in Clay during the final stages of his training because he failed to show any great superiority over his sparring partners, despite his big talk previously.


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