Sonny Liston vs. Johnny Summerlin (1st meeting)

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1954-06-29 : Sonny Liston 206 lbs beat Johnny Summerlin 193 lbs by UD in round 8 of 8

  • Location: Motor City Arena, Detroit, Michigan, USA

"John Summerlin of Detroit, Michigan's ranking heavyweight, was no match for Charles Liston, former International Golden Gloves heavyweight champion from St. Louis. Liston pounded out a unanimous decision in the eight round televised main event at Motor City Arena Tuesday night. The St. Louis slugger who weighed 206 pounds carried the fight through most of the early rounds and finished with added glory by staggering Summerlin, 193, into a corner during an explosive final round." - United Press


  • This was Liston's first televised fight.
  • In his 1963 biography of Liston, The Champ Nobody Wanted, A.S. Young wrote: "In Detroit, there was talk that Summerlin would knock Liston out in two or three rounds. But when people saw Liston in the gym, the odds began dropping."
  • Frank Mitchell, one of Liston's first managers, said Liston was nervous before the fight. "Because he's big and strong, you don't realize unless you talk to him that he can be scared like anybody else."
  • Liston and Summerlin had a rematch about six weeks later, also in Detroit, with Liston winning by an eight-round split decision.