Ali Vs. Liston | The Night Lewiston, Maine Can Never Forget
Ali is stung by the cries of “Fake” that fill the hall. “I hit him hard enough to knock out any man,” he says. “I told you I had a secret,” he adds. “That was my anchor punch. It’s lethal.” After the fight, Ali fights many times, but the anchor punch is not heard of again.
Only a handful of reporters actually saw the punch. Those that did were convinced of its power. However charges of “fix” filled the papers for days. Jimmy Breslin called the fight “the worst mess in the history of sports.” Another writer added, ” It was boxing’s shot in the arm — embalming fluid.” Of all the Maine officials, Francis McDonough suffered the most. He said his job was to count over a fallen fighter, and that he did. He did not tell Walcott to stop the fight, only that Liston had been down for at least 20 seconds. He stopped speaking to reporters. When he died three years later, much of his obituary concerned his role in the ill-fated fight, a task that from 68 years of life consumed 20 seconds.
Lewiston today enjoys a certain pride in the fight. After all, how many people can name where Ali fought Zora Folley, say, or Cleveland Williams. But go anywhere where people are talking boxing and to start an argument you just say two words: “Lewiston, Maine.”
“It’s part of our lore and legend,” the man says, and for Lewiston, at least, the fight will never really be over.