Smokin' Joe Frazier, the former heavyweight champion of the world and Olympic Gold medalist in 1964, passed away today. He was 67 years old and stricken by liver cancer.
Frazier was undoubtedly the toughest of the real heavyweights who carried the sport in a time when heavyweight boxing was real and not fake like it is today.
His left hook was legend and perhaps his defining trademark in the squared circle.
We are very unlikely to see the caliber of Joe Frazier in the heavyweight ranks anytime soon, if ever.
His fight record was amazing: Total fights 37 - 32 wins (27KOs), 4 losses, 1 draw.
The image above is a signed photograph of the historical moment in March 1971 when Smokin' Joe Frazier put Muhammad Ali on the canvas at Madison Square Garden in New York. He went on to win the fight and become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
The fight was dubbed "The Fight of the Century" and came about after Frazier and others petitioned President Nixon to allow Ali to fight again. You may remember that Ali was stripped of his world title for refusing to join the armed forces and fight in Vietnam.
Frazier would fight Ali two more times after beating him in 1971. The second meeting was also staged in Madison Square Garden and Frazier lost to Ali.
Their third and final meeting in 1975 is perhaps just as famous as their first meeting. The fight was billed as the "Thrilla in Manilla" and it is one of the greatest heavyweight fights ever.
Frazier's legacy, though great on its own, is undoubtedly tied to that of Ali. He was the first fighter to beat Ali.
Ali praised Frazier today saying that:
“The world has lost a great champion. I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration.”I think there are not too many fight fans who will disagree with Ali.
May Smokin' Joe's soul rest in peace until that day.