January 12, 1944 – November 7, 2011
The boxing world lost a great last week when Joe “Smoking Joe” Frazier passed away. Joe will always be remembered for his epic duels with Muhammed Ali. Before we get on to those lets look at the highlights of his career:
- He won the 1964 Olympic Gold Medal after originally not making the squad, but came in as an injury replacement to beat all before him.
- He turned professional in 1965. His start to his professional career was sensational. He started out with an 11-0 run that led to a fight with Argentine Oscar Bonavena in 1966. Bonavena twice knocked Frazier down in one round, but in a display that would immediately set him up in the hearts of fans, he got back up and emerged victorious with a unanimous decision.
- At the end of the 1967 season he had a career record of 19-0.
- Although he moved to another 6 defences, the crowds were baying for the ultimate showdown. Everyone wanted to see Frazier vs. Ali
- And they got to do this. After his exile from the sport, Ali returned and knocked out Quarry and Bonavena to set up the most mouth watering matches in history at that point. On March 8, 1971 the two heavyweights of the boxing world slogged it out in one of the greatest displays of brutality. In the 15th round, Frazier landed a sensational left hook to floor Ali. He got the nod from all 3 judges to emerge victorious.
- He finally lost his title in 1973 when he was dropped by George Foreman. But the focus was on the rematch to Muhammed Ali in 1974. He lost the 12 round bout on decision.
- Although he won a few other fights in the build up, the ultimate battle was to finally be decided as he took on Ali for the third and final time of his career on the 1 October 1975. They fought in the scorching heat just outside Manilla in a fight that was finally dubbed as “Thrilla in Manilla” by Ali. By the end of the 14th round both fighters had had their turns at the upper hand. Both fighters were exhausted, but Frazier’s eyes were swollen shut and his corner stopped the bout. Ali remarked that it was the closest he had been to death.
- He was diagnosed with liver cancer in September 2011 and lost the last battle of his life in November 2011.
All Things Jabu salutes a fine sportsman on a remarkable career and for the memory of probably the greatest rivalry in heavyweight boxing. May you rest in peace.