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Most Predict Liston Victory over Clay — But Not Jack Sharkey

Nov. 6, 1963 - The proposed Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston heavyweight title fight was called a dangerous mismatch today by a California boxing official who said it could result in grave injury to the young challenger. Sol Silverman, chairman of the California Committee on Safeguards for Professional Boxing, criticized the fight, for which contracts were signed yesterday. He said not one former heavyweight champion among the eleven now living regarded Clay as being ready to deal with Liston. This last assertion was disproven when Jack Sharkey (pictured left with Max Schmeling in 1932), 61-year-old former heavyweight champ, said today that to call the Liston-Clay fight a mismatch is silly. “It should be a good fight,” said Jack. “The interest in the gate should be tremendous. And no matter what you fellows write about this Clay, about his loud mouth and all, you’ve got to remember he’s very fast and he can box. And he’s smart too. You know, they had a few things to say about me when I was fighting. But no one really knows anything at all about a match like this until the two men get into the ring. Sharkey, who won the heavyweight championship on June 21, 1932, by defeating Max Schmeling on a split decision, said Cassius will have to let Liston bring the fight to him — something Liston is in the habit of doing anyway. “But if Clay gets this Liston angry enough and tired enough of chasing him, he might be able to take advantage of some wild punches. And if he can start Liston backing up — well, who knows? Who’s ever seen Liston back up? But I’ll tell you one thing. Don’t believe this guy Clay can’t fight just because all you read about is his mouth. He’ll probably stay in there longer than the two minutes this Patterson guy did.” Sharkey concluded: “Hell, even I could stay in there longer than two minutes.”


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