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Muhammad Ali vs Cleveland Williams (1966) | Facts, Stats & Highlights

By Lee Cleveland, FightSaga - July 2, 2022

Event: Muhammad Ali vs Cleveland Williams

Date: November 14, 1666

Location: Astrodome, Houston, Texas, USA

Attendance: 35,460

Referee: Harry Kessler

Title: World Heavyweight Title (Ali defending)

Broadcast: Closed-circuit television at 125 locations in the U.S.

Ali vs Williams Facts & Stats

  • Ali vs Williams was seen, either live or on delayed tape, in 46 foreign countries.

  • Many assert Muhammad Ali was at his very best this night

  • Ali was a 5-to-1 favorite.

  • Cleveland Williams, along with Liston, was thought by many to be among the hardest punchers in the division during the 1960s.

  • According to sources, Ali was concerned that Williams might be badly hurt if the bout went on for any length of time. Jerry Izenberg, alone with Ali the night before the fight, advised him to KO Williams quickly to avoid causing any lasting damage.

  • On this night, Ali introduced the ‘Ali Shuffle.’

  • There were 35,460 fans in attendance making Ali vs Williams the largest crowd ever to see an indoor boxing match at the time.
Amazon.com: Muhammad Ali vs Cleveland Williams - 1966 - Fight Promotion  Poster: Posters & Prints
  • Ali floored Williams three times in the second round and once in the third.

  • The RING: Boxing The 20th Century stated, “Ali’s jab had never been as blinding; his feet had never seemed so light; his combinations had never flowed so effortlessly. At age 24, he was 27-0 (22), and peaking. It was time to freeze the moment for the time capsule.”

  • “He caught me a couple of times and really shook me up,” Ali confided to Cus D’Amato years later.

  • “I’m surprised he hit as hard as he did… That Cleveland Williams had a lot of hard punches,” added the legendary champion.

  • Broadcaster Howard Cosell told Thomas Hauser, “The greatest Ali ever was as a fighter was against Williams. That night, he was the most devastating fighter who ever lived.”
  • Result: Ali (Won) KO 3 Williams


Tags: cleveland williams, muhammad ali