Sonny Liston


Sultan of Swat
Staff member
Sonny Liston is the boxer that we will portray this week. I don't know as much about Liston as I want to, but I believe he was a great boxer. So what are your thoughts on Liston? And some of your favorite bouts with Sonny?


Registered Member
Great fighter.I've seen people rank him as high as no 3 in ATG HW rankings after Ali and Louis(or viceversa).Definite top 10 material.
Generally underrated fighter because people think about his losses to a pretty young Ali.But what people don't realize Sonny was already past his prime and very inactive by that time.
Devastating puncher but also a good boxer with good body and leg movement and a excellent jab.Had a good chin on him too but also made fundamantal errors like letting the jabbing hand(left) down after jabbing(Ali and Martin punished him for that).
Sonny had tough fights from very early on in his career and fought all the top contenders as a contender,fact that is forgotten by many because the names of the opponents.
He fought top fringe contender Johnny Summerlin twice in his 5th and 6th bouts I believe beating him twice.
Beat everybody on his way to the title,Wayne Bethea,Bert Whitehurst(twice),Roy Harris,Mike DeJohn,Nino Valdes,Cleveland Williams(twice),Zora Folley,literally cleaning out the division in his time.But that costed him his prime which in my view ended by 1959.
Sonny was all wrong for Patterson and as much as D'Amato wanted to avoid Sonny using his past and life outside the ring everybody wanted to see the fight.
We all know what happened in both fights.But that didn't help necessarily help him in his next fights.He went into the first Ali fight fighting only 5 rounds in 4 years.Plus he was past his prime and already considering himself to good aka not training hard and taking Ali lightly.The fight altough great ended unclimatically with Sonny stopping it due to shoulder injury(or so he said).Everybody knows the Phantom Punch incident in the rematch,that fight was a joke in so many ways.
After that Ssonny made good mney fighting in Sweden and later moving to Las Vegas fighting mostly weak opposition and not being seen as a true contender anymore.That until he fought Leotis Martin in a hyped fight.But 10 years past his prime and 37 years of age(by his own admission,probably 3 or 4 years older really) plus that fundamental error I mentioned earlier and he got knocked out and banished from the upper echalon.He planned a comeback,irst defeating Chuck Wepner and singing a precontract to fight George Chuvalo but his untimely and sudden death made the Wepner victory his last fight.
The perfect way to summarise Sonny Liston is how his grave portrays him.....''A man''.He had his flaws and he had his strong points but in the end he was just a man.


Registered Member
Thunder pretty much said everything I would have said, lol.

Sonny was a great puncher, he had fantastic strength and that became a problem for a lot of his opponents, he was simply to strong for them.

He learnt to box while doing a stretch in prison something that would come back to haunt him a few times in his career, he had a few run ins with the law after becoming a pro as well.

He had the largest fist of any heavyweight champ in his era and after I believe, it was 15 inches.
The thing with Liston is that the facts are somewhat jumbled up in his personal life, everything from the year he was born to how many siblings he had, this makes finding things out a little harder than normal.


Registered Member
Good post by Thunder there, covered all the main points..
The only things I'll add, is as well as his huge fist, I believe he had the longest reach to height ratio of all time.. Hagler, I believe is no2..

As for Liston as ATG, he just sneaks in my list at no10..


Sultan of Swat
Staff member
Here is a bit to add in my opinion. I'll probably add later.

One of the most feared boxers of all time. He destroyed fighters like Floyd Patterson and Cleveland Williams both of who were very good boxers. Liston was feared as a puncher but he could also box very well outboxing the likes of Eddie Machen who was a very slick boxer. Ali was afraid of Liston as his blood pressure readings showed but he was quicker than Liston and he stayed away from Listons power and took all the fight out of Liston. Listons career basically ended when Ali beat him the first time. Liston probably won 9 out of his last 11 fights but he never was the same.