Photo by Neil Leifer. In one of the most controversial endings to a boxing fight in the sports history, this is one of the most famous sporting images ever taken..1min and 40 second into the fight Ali threw what would become the “phantom punch” knocking Liston down. Its named the “phantom punch” because most people at ringside did not see it. Even Ali was unsure as to whether or not the punch connected, as footage from the event shows Ali asking his entourage “Did I hit him?” after the match.
Neil Leifer had this to say about the photograph – “Well, I was lucky. I don’t want to sound like I’m just being modest .. The photographer you see between Ali’s legs is Herbie Scharfman, the other Sports Illustrated photographer. It didn’t make a difference how good he was that night. He was obviously in the wrong seat. What the good sports photographer does is when it happens and you’re in the right place, you don’t miss. Whether that’s instinctual or whether it’s just luck, I don’t know.”
More on the fight can be found here
Footage of the “phantom punch” can be seen here