Both pairs of gloves from the May 25, 1965, bout in Lewiston, Maine - won by Ali with a first-round knockout from what some saw as a "phantom punch" - go up for auction in February 21 in New York. They are expected to fetch more than USD 1 million.

Footage of the fight does not make it clear whether Ali's quick right hand actually connected, and many fans booed. Even the most famous photos of the fight show an enraged Ali standing over Liston as he lay on the canvas, gesturing and yelling at him to get up and fight.

Given the controversial way the bout ended, the boxers' gloves were seized by George Russo, the boxing commissioner for Maine. The gloves remained in the Russo family until they were purchased several years ago by a California collector who is now selling them.

"The fight is one of the most, if not the most, controversial happenings in sports history. It's still not solved today," said Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at Heritage Auctions, which is handling the sale.

There have been many theories about what exactly happened: Did Liston, an ex-con known as the Big Bear, throw the fight because he was in debt to the mob? Or did Ali actually deliver a perfectly landed punch?

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