“He’s too ugly to be world champion…”

-Muhammad Ali

On 25 May 1965, in the small town of Lewiston, Maine, USA, the then World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali, squared up to the man he had dethroned only a year prior, Sonny the “Big Bear” Liston in a fight many favoured the latter to win. The sports world was still reeling in from the shock of the loud-mouthed Ali outclassing the former champion in their first fight. Many spoke of how Liston had underestimated the flamboyant Ali, and his arrogance was what had cost him. A mistake they assumed he would not make again.

As the fight began, Liston ferociously charged Ali as he had done so in their first encounter. Ali glided across the floor, his speed allowing him to evade Liston’s thunderous jabs. Over a minute into the fight, Liston moved into Ali and threw a left-hand jab. Ali leaned away, planted his feet, and threw his right hand over Liston’s shoulder, connecting with the latter’s temple and sending him tumbling onto his back.

Ali stood over his opponent, berating him to get to his feet and fight, but the champion had proved too much for Liston yet again, and was declared the winner over a few seconds later. Controversy ensued, and to this date, the fight remains a topic of heated debate. Regardless, the stunning speed and ferocity of the phantom punch remains undeniable, and given that it came at the hands of the greatest boxing heavyweight to ever live, one can be forgiven for not questioning its credibility. Such was the greatness of Muhammad Ali.