The "Phantom Punch" refers to a controversial knockout punch that occurred during the heavyweight boxing match between Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) and Sonny Liston on May 25, 1965. The punch has become the subject of debate and speculation due to its perceived mysterious and elusive nature.
The fight took place in Lewiston, Maine, and was a highly anticipated rematch between Ali and Liston. Their first encounter in 1964 had ended with Ali winning by a seventh-round TKO. The rematch, however, lasted only a brief moment.
In the first round, Ali threw a quick right hand that connected with Liston's jaw. The punch, which appeared to be a short, chopping blow, caused Liston to fall to the canvas. The referee, Jersey Joe Walcott, immediately started the count, and Liston struggled to rise but failed to beat the count, resulting in a first-round knockout victory for Ali.
The controversy surrounding the "Phantom Punch" intensified due to the lack of clear camera angles and the perception that Liston's fall was exaggerated or staged. Some argued that Liston took a dive, possibly due to his alleged ties to organized crime or his desire to avoid further punishment from Ali.
To this day, the exact nature of the punch and Liston's subsequent knockout remains a subject of debate and speculation. While various theories and explanations have been put forth, no definitive evidence has emerged to provide a conclusive answer.
Regardless of the controversy surrounding the "Phantom Punch," the rematch between Ali and Liston played a significant role in shaping Ali's legacy and further establishing him as a force to be reckoned with in the heavyweight division.
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