On February 25, 1964, in a well publicized bout in Miami, Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, faced Sonny Liston for the first time. Ali’s record at the time was 19-0 and it was the first title match for the 22-year-old. Although he was an Olympic gold medalist, the odds favored Sonny Liston 7 to 1. After 7 rounds, however, Liston was counted out and Ali became the heavyweight champion. Bookmakers would have been smart to listen to Ali the night before the bout, when he released this incredible poem:
Clay comes out to meet Liston and Liston starts to retreat, If Liston goes back an inch farther he'll end up in a ringside seat. Clay swings with a left, Clay swings with a right, Just look at young Cassius carry the fight. Liston keeps backing but there's not enough room, It's a matter of time until Clay lowers the boom. Then Clay lands with a right, what a beautiful swing, And the punch raised the bear clear out of the ring. Liston still rising and the ref wears a frown, But he can't start counting until Sonny comes down. Now Liston disappears from view, the crowd is getting frantic But our radar stations have picked him up somewhere over the Atlantic. Who on Earth thought, when they came to the fight, That they would witness the launching of a human satellite. Hence the crowd did not dream, when they laid down their money, That they would see a total eclipse of Sonny.