I am not going to
make Liston's mistake and chase Clay. The burden of a title fight should be on
the champion. The people pay to see him and to see what makes him a champion.
It is up to him to give them their money's worth, not up to me. It is up to me
to set all the traps I can for him.
I don't mean that
I won't go after Clay. I will. But if he thinks he can stab and run and make me
carry the fight, he is in for a surprise. If he tries, there won't be much of a
fight. I think Clay might surprise everyone and come right after me. He has
said I am a slow starter. He might try and catch me cold in the first round or
two. If that happens there will be a knockout within five rounds.
If Clay does not
change his style and the fight goes the distance, I am even more certain I will
win. The longer it goes the better my chances.
Clay can move
forward much faster than he can move backward, but I wonder if he saw what Jose
Torres did so well in winning the light heavyweight title recently from Willie
Pastrano is a
master boxer, a much better boxer than Clay. Yet Torres cut the ring in half on
Willie that night. He kept moving in, though not wasting a lot of time chasing
him, and allowed Willie to run his own legs off. You could almost see the ring
shrink as round followed round. Any fighter who runs has to stop sometime.
I will try to
tighten the ring around Clay and wait for my chance. As I said, I punch faster
than Cassius and I am anxious to see what happens when I connect with a couple
of good combinations. If I hurt him I will take full advantage of the
Liston did not
alter his style against Clay—I doubt Sonny can fight more than one way. I did
not change my style against Liston, and I lost twice. I did change against
Chuvalo, and I won. My style was made to order for Liston, and Liston's style
was made to order for Clay. I don't have to change for Clay, but Cassius will
have to adopt new tactics, and I don't think he is going to be able to do
earlier that a fighter with a troubled mind is only half a fighter. A few
things have happened to me that I must never let happen again. For my first
fight with Liston I went into the ring with a tremendous burden. I had recently
met the late President Kennedy and his brother, then the Attorney General,
Robert Kennedy. Also Mr. Ralph Bunche, several executives of the NAACP and
other top people.
asked me who I was going to fight. When I told him Liston, he and Bobby said:
"Well, you've got to beat this guy," or something like that. The NAACP
and Mr. Bunche did not want me to take the fight. They felt Liston was a bad
example, and if he beat me it would be a blow to boxing.
I felt that if
Sonny won the title he would change. The fact that he had a record was
something that was behind him. Then the press made a lot of comparisons. The
good guy against the bad guy. That sort of thing. I didn't agree with this at
all, and it bothered me.