Considered the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali (pictured left) possessed formidable ability coupled with a personality that gained him both fans and detractors. With his tall stature and unorthodox fighting style, Ali dazzled audiences and frustrated opponents with a seemingly limitless vault of skills. On this day and at the age of 22, Ali would defeat reigning champion Sonny Liston (pictured) to capture his first world title.
Ali went by his birth name Cassius Clay during the time of the bout, and the Louisville native was not favored to win after Liston handily defeated former champion Floyd Patterson twice by this point.
Leading up to the bout at the Convention Hall at Miami Beach, Ali uttered one of his many famous phrases and promised to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” during the clash. Liston was feared for his imposing build and punching power but, as Ali artfully stated, the leaner and younger opponent picked apart his lumbering foe with ease.
While Liston finally did get going, Ali used his speed and athleticism to pepper his opponent’s head with jabs and big shots.
After reportedly injuring his shoulder after missing several huge blows, Liston would not answer the bell for the start of the seventh round.
While in the ring, the animated Ali made another famous reference during an interview shortly after the bout. “I shook up the world,” shouted Ali at the top of his lungs. “I must be the greatest!”