This morning, I woke up to the news that Joe Frazier, “smoking’ Joe”, had died of liver cancer at the age of 67. Joe Frazier will forever be associated with the epic heavyweight fights of the early and mid 1970s, in particular his fights against Muhammad Ali. This was at a time when everyone seemed to follow heavyweight boxing, and the fights between any of Frazier, Ali and George Foreman would be epic World events.
Frazier was the first boxer to ever beat Muhammad Ali, in a fight in March 1971 at Madison Square Gardens, which was billed as the “fight of the century“. Frazier and Ali fought two more times, the second fight in 1974 was won by Ali. The decider, their third fight, was the famous “Thrilla in Manila” in 1975, which Ali won, thus winning the series. This fight is thought by many boxing aficionados as being the greatest heavyweight contest ever. Here is a trailer to a documentary film made about the Thrilla in Manilla.
Of the 3 great World heavyweight boxers of the 1970s, Ali, Foreman and Frazier, Frazier is the first to die. Rest in Peace, Smokin’ Joe