Cassius Clay beats Sonny Liston in 1964 by TKO on Feb. 25, 1964 (increased BoxRec rating by 1,214 points)
The biggest fight of Ali’s career was his first against against Liston, who became the heavyweight champion after knocking out Floyd Patterson. Liston was a big favorite over Ali, then Cassius Clay, with 43 of 46 sportswriters polled at the time picking Liston to win.
Clay’s histrionics would start to appear in earnest, with the Post’s Shirley Povich describing Clay as “a man in hysterical seizure or successfully imitating it.” But Clay would pull off “one of the biggest upsets in boxing history” after a shoulder injury would keep Liston from coming out in the seventh round, making Clay the winner by technical knockout.
A little more than a week after the Liston bout, Clay said he would be renamed Muhammad Ali.