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A Press Democrat Blog

Old School

Robert Rubino connects current sports news with the past

Angelo Dundee, R.I.P.

In 1957, Carmen Basilio won the middleweight championship of the world with a split decision over Sugar Ray Robinson, who is still considered by many experts to be the greatest pound-for-pound fighter of all time. Angelo Dundee was Basilio’s trainer for that fight. I was only 9 at the time, but I remember listening to a live radio broadcast of that fight with my dad. In 1964, challenger Cassius Clay outboxed heavyweight champion Sonny Liston, who quit after six rounds.… Read More »

Ali’s best, Ali’s worst

Here’s wishing a happy birthday to former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who turns 70 on Tuesday. And here’s one longtime boxing fan’s lists of Ali’s 10 best and 10 worst performances in the ring. Feel free to join the discussion. Ali’s 10 best fights: 1. First time vs. Sonny Liston, 1964. Without this win, when as Cassius Clay he won the heavyweight championship of the world after a thoroughly beaten Liston quit after six rounds, there may not have… Read More »

Joe Frazier hypotheticals

Joe Frazier, the great heavyweight boxer who died Monday, fought Muhammad Ali (three times), George Foreman (twice), Jerry Quarry (twice), Oscar Bonavena (twice), Jimmy Ellis (twice) and Buster Mathis, among others. How do you think he would have done against some notable heavyweights who preceded him? Here is my take: Frazier vs. Rocky Marciano would be such a war, wouldn’t it? It’s very hard to imagine Rocky losing, since he never did. On the other hand, to my knowledge, he… Read More »

Where have you gone, Pete Rademacher?

My friend and colleague Lowell Cohn and I are a couple of old boxing nerds. We love to talk about boxing from the 1950s and ’60s. Lowell called me the other day and told me he watched the Floyd Patterson-Henry Cooper fight from 1966 on YouTube, and how good Patterson looked — and this was years after he had been stopped by Sonny Liston (twice) and Muhammad Ali and was on yet another comeback trail. I had previously watched the… Read More »

Phantom Punch: Final thoughts

Today is the 45th anniversary of the phantom punch, when Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in their heavyweight championship rematch. Recent Old School blogs and Sunday’s column (in The Press Democrat and online at pressdemocrat.com) contain plenty of information and commentary about the controversial fight, so no need to rehash. But here’s a final thought. I think the phantom punch was a legit knockdown punch. Notice I wrote “knockdown” not “knockout.” I think it disorented Liston enough for him… Read More »

Phantom punch anniversary: Part III

Tuesday, May 25, is the 45th anniversary of the so-called ‘phantom punch,” when Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in their rematch at Lewiston, Maine. For a retrospective of that controversial heavyweight championship fight, read my Sunday column online at pressdemocrat.com or in The Press Democrat’s sports section. In the previous two days, we discussed the myth that Liston was counted out, and the myth that his career ended that night in Lewiston. Here’s Myth No. 3: After losing in… Read More »

Wit and wisdom of Angelo Dundee

So, the other night I’m flipping through Thomas Hauser’s first-rate oral biography of Muhammad Ali, and I come across a classic quote from Ali’s trainer, Angelo Dundee. He visits Sonny Liston’s training camp before the rematch with Ali, and Liston is doing his medicine ball routine, taking his trainer’s throws right in the gut, over and over and over again, impressing all the onlookers — except for Dundee, who says: They should be throwing it at his face because that’s… Read More »

Phantom Punch anniversary: Part II

Tuesday, May 25, is the 45th anniversary of the so-called ‘phantom punch,” when Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in their rematch at Lewiston, Maine. For a retrospective of that controversial heavyweight championship fight, read my Sunday column online at pressdemocrat.com or in The Press Democrat’s sports section. Yesterday we discussed the myth that Liston was counted out. Myth No. 2: With his second consecutive defeat to Ali, Liston’s career was over. Fact: Liston won 14 fights in a row… Read More »

Wit and wisdom of Sonny Liston

On YouTube the other day, I watched Howard Cosell interviewing Sonny Liston minutes after Liston suffered a ninth-round knockout by Leotis Martin. The fight was on national TV, in December 1969. Liston was the ex-champ and his three-year comeback had brought him on the verge of another title shot. But Martin, a good, underrated heavyweight, KO’d Liston. A brutal KO. It took about five minutes to revive Liston. So, Sonny finally gets to his feet and he looks as glum… Read More »

Phantom Punch anniversary: Myth vs. Fact

Tuesday, May 25, is the 45th anniversary of the so-called ‘phantom punch,” when Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in their rematch at Lewiston, Maine. For a retrospective of that controversial heavyweight championship fight, read my Sunday column online at pressdemocrat.com or in The Press Democrat’s sports section. What follows are three myths that have emerged about the fight: Myth No. 1: Liston was counted out in the first round. Fact: Referee Joe Walcott never began a count. Liston never… Read More »