November 15, 2009

WHO?:

You Watch Out, Ali!: Cassius Clay is the champion and will be the favorite when he meets Cleveland Williams for the heavyweight title Monday, but the Big Cat, in superb condition, is powerful, and his knockout record is awesome (Martin Kane, November 14, 1966, Sports Illustrated)

For a long time now, ever since he won the world heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston in one of prizefighting's stranger battles—with both fighters trying to quit and only Liston succeeding—followers of boxing have been hoping to see Muhammad Ali, the former Cassius Clay, truly tested. The test would now seem to be in the offing. This Monday in Houston's huge Astrodome the largest crowd ever to attend a fight indoors will see Ali pitted against Cleveland Williams, the Big Cat from Yoakum, Texas. Williams is rightly considered to be the strongest puncher around. Everyone knows that Ali's speed of foot is sensational, that his reflexes are superb and that his punching is at least respectable, but no one yet knows whether he can take a punch well. Certainly he never has gone about the ring looking to be hit. The hardest blow to the head he ever has suffered was Henry Cooper's left hook in their first fight, and that put Ali down hard. He came back, however, to win by a knockout.

Cooper's lonesome hook is not to be compared in power to any blow that Cleveland Williams throws with either hand. For this reason alone, when Williams challenged Ali there were murmurs of dissent in Muhammad's tent. No one in his right mind ever really wants to fight Williams.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 15, 2009 11:34 AM
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