Farewell, Smokin’ Joe!

9 11 2011
Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, Philadelphia, PA...

Image by cliff1066™ via Flickr

The boxing world has lost another great fighter in Joe Frazier. The former heavyweight champion succumbed to liver cancer at the age of 67.

His passing has made every boxing writer write a piece about the man known as Smokin’ Joe in the ring. Frazier’s legacy will be tied to Muhammad Ali. The 2 great heavyweights fought an epic trilogy from 1971 to 1975.  They first met in the Madison Square Garden in a card called  “Fight of the Century” in 1971. Both of them were undefeated then and Joe Frazier was defending his heavyweight belt against the ex-champion Ali who just came off a 3 year suspension for refusing to be inducted in the US Army in 1967. The 2 undefeated boxers were paid $2.5 million for that fight (a record then). For 15 rounds, Smokin’ Joe and Ali fought hard and gave the people a great fight (a stark contrast on the state of heavyweight boxing nowadays). Frazier won via decision giving Ali the first defeat of illustrious career. It was a devastating loss for Ali as he blew a chance to regain his world title. It took Muhammad Ali 3 more years before he wins another world title. Ali was able to avenge his loss to Frazier in January 1974 via a close decision with no title at stake.

The third and final Frazier-Ali fight was held at the Araneta Coliseum, Quezon City, Philippines. The “Thrilla in Manila” had fourteen rounds of sheer brutality and ended when Frazier’s trainer Eddie Futch did not allow his ward to fight another round after fighting blind for several rounds. Up to now, there was no fight as big held in the Philippines.

The trilogy with Ali, immortalized Smokin’ Joe in the annals of boxing history. He will be remembered for his left hooks and aggressive fighting style. A great champion has bid farewell but he will always be remembered.