Sonny Liston vs. Floyd Patterson II
July 22, 1963
On September 25, 1962, Sonny Liston knocked out Floyd Patterson in two minutes and five seconds for the world championship belt, becoming the first man to earn a first-round knockout over a heavyweight champion. It had done nothing for his popularity.
Liston’s disdain for the civil rights movement alienated him from contemporary blacks and his brutish tactics and mob affiliations made him a target for white journalists eager to pen broad generalizations and racial slander. Speculation abounded that Sonny had used his underworld connections to fix the fight in his favor. Incensed by such groundless accusation, Liston arranged a rematch to be fought in ten months’ time - plenty of time for Patterson to iron out whatever problems had limited him in their first meeting.
They fought again in the summer of ‘63, this time with Liston as champion and Patterson as challenger. Within two minutes, Patterson hit the canvas thrice. The three-knockdown rule was not in effect, but Patterson could not (or would not) rise to face Liston after the third and final knockdown. He had lasted two minutes and nine seconds - exactly four seconds longer than their previous bout. The match over, Liston embraced the former champion as boos filled the arena.