Only 2,434 people witnessed Ali vs. Liston II. The fight was originally to be held in Boston, Massachusetts but the promoters didn’t have a license for Massachusetts. So on May 25, 1965, Muhammad Ali fought Sonny Liston in a small auditorium in Lewiston, Maine.
The fight proved to be one of the most controversial fights in history. Ali only threw three punches that hit their mark with great force. The third punch thrown by Ali sent Liston the floor. Ali would later describe it as an “anchor punch.”
The referee, former heavyweight champion Jersey Joe Walcott, failed to get Ali into a neutral corner and Liston spent a full 17 seconds on the floor. This gave Liston nearly double the chance to regain his senses and rise from the canvas.
A ringside sportswriter finally informed the referee that the timekeeper had counted Liston out. Only then did Walcott signal the fight was over.
For the second time, Ali had KO’d one of the most feared fighters of the era. For the first time, Muhammad Ali had defended his own crown.