The 1966 Ali-WIlliams Fight at the Dome

Muhammad Ali (lower left)
Cleveland Williams (Upper Right)
Whose actually up – and actually down – depends on your perspective – or whether or not you saw the fight. If you saw the fight, you will need no further help to know the answer.


The Galveston News, P 2-B

Tuesday, November 15, 1966

Clay’s Fist Are Loud Too

By A.C. Becker Jr., Staff Writer


Muhammad Ali or Cassius Marcellus Clay II, take your pick, can afford to have a big mouth. He’s got the tools, a pair of granite fists, to back up his mouthings.

Ali needed just seven minutes and eight seconds – less than three full rounds – to prove his point Monday night in clobbering Cleveland (Big Cat) Williams in Houston’s Astrodome.

A crowd of 35,406 bought pasteboards ranging from $50 down to $5 to see Clay successfully defend his world heavyweight championship for the seventh time since taking it from Sonny Liston on Feb. 25, 1965.

It was Ali’s fifth title defense this year and it stretched his pro ring career to 27 straight victories.

CLAY BLASTED Williams out of the heavyweight picture in 1:08 of the third round. It was then that a merciful referee saw fit to put an end to the blood letting and  declare Ali the winner on a TKO.

About all that can be said for Williams is (1) he showed up, (2) he got in the first punch, a light one, and (3) he left the ring under his own power.

And the only reason he left the ring under his own power was due to the mercy of the referee. Had the ref not stopped the fight, Williams probably would have been carried out on his back. That’s how badly he was beaten.

THE ONLY round in which Williams wasn’t jolted half senseless was the first. In that heat, Clay saw fit to dance rapidly around the ring, often dropping his guard completely as to invite Williams to close quarters.

It was toward the end of that round that Clay got in some punches that clearly indicated the night would be short.

The tempo turned in the second round. Clay continued his round-the-ring dancing and Williams made his big mistake. He attempted to close in, but in doing so Clay slammed him with a sledgehammer right that started a nose bleed.

THE CAT straightened up, dropping his cover. Clay charged in with a barrage of rights and lefts to the head and Williams hit the canvas.

The Cat quickly bounded back to his feet, but he had to take the mandatory nine count. Now a little reluctant to pursue Clay so closely, Williams started a back-peddling game. Against Clay’s superior speed and footwork, the move was useless.

Clay closed in and again hammered Williams with  rights and lefts to the head. And the Big Cat hit the deck again for another nine-count.

THIS TIME Williams was even slower. He tried to stay out of Clay’s reach but couldn’t. Again (came) those bam-bam rights and lefts, and Williams hit the canvas again.

This time he was saved by the bell.

When he returned to his corner, blood was streaming freely from his nose, mouth, and several cuts on his face. It was obvious The Cat wasn’t going to be around much longer.

Clay waded right into Williams starting the third round. He quickly dropped Williams to the canvas for another nine count.

The dazed Williams struggled to his feet, as the referee pushed Clay away, signaling to stop the fight.

ALTHOUGH THE Cat plans to continue boxing, he is no longer a heavyweight contender. Mohammad Ali Cassius Clay proved that in the Astrodome Monday night.

At best the fight can be described as a bad mis-match. Clay had too much speed, ring savvy and block buster punches in either fist. Williams just showed up.

Williams got in the fist punch of the fight. It did no damage. He landed a few other blows as the bout continued, but it was obvious that none hurt the champion.

The crowd was far short of the anticipated 50,000. It was, however, strong pro-Williams. The Cat got a thunderous ovation when he entered the ring.

The chorus of boos was just as loud when Clay stepped into the ring.

At the end, of course, wild screaming from Clay supporters drowned out everyone.


Footnote: On March 6, 1964, Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad announced that the new heavyweight champion of the world would no longer be known as Cassius Clay. “This Clay name has no meaning,” he said in a radio address. “Muhammad Ali is what I will give him as long as he believes in Allah and follows me.” In spite of Ali’s immediate acceptance of the religious terms placed upon his change of names. and his immediate desire to be recognized as Muhammad Ali, he never took steps to legally change his name. It took several years for many writers to start calling Ali by the name he adopted.


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas



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