Smokin’ Joe Frazier passed last night. While Ali may well be the “Greatest” heavyweight fighter ever to grace the ring…
He wouldn’t be considered the greatest without Joe Frazier – who beat him, and then fought him to within a hairs breadth of a second defeat. Greatness requires great opponents – something missing in the ranks of the heavyweights since the days of Ali, Frazier, and Foreman.
If cancer could be dropped with a devastating left hook, Joe Frazier would still be with us. The former heavyweight champion has died at the age of 67, just weeks after he was diagnosed with liver cancer, AP reports. Frazier, who won gold for the US at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, had an epic rivalry with Muhammad Ali, and took him on in three momentous fights in the ’70s. In the so-called Fight of the Century in 1971 he became the first man to beat Ali, but he lost the next two showdowns, including 1975’s classic “Thrilla in Manila,” which Ali described as “the closest I’ve come to death.”
Frazier, who held the world heavyweight title for more than two years, was the son of a South Carolina sharecropper. In his later years, he ran a boxing gym in his adopted hometown of Philadelphia. “I don’t mind working with the kids,” he told CNN in 2009. “The kids is tomorrow.” Asked if he was similar to Rocky Balboa, he said: “Sure. I worked at the slaughterhouse. I’m the guy that ran in the streets of Philadelphia.”