When Muhammad Ali Met Smokin' Joe Frazier
In 1967 Muhammad Ali defended his heavyweight title without knowing it would be the last time he would be in a boxing ring for 3 long years accused of draft dodging and threatened with imprisonment.
Ali was stripped of his title and forced to the sidelines through his physical prime. In his absence a new Heavyweight force emerged in the shape of Smokin' Joe Fraizer a brooding character with dynamite in his left hook, Fraizer won a portion of the title Ali had left behind in 1968 against Buster Matthius then in 1970 cemented his place as the worlds premiere Heavyweight with a fine win against Jimmy Ellis which would set up a mouthwatering clash with the comebacking former champion Ali who had never lost his titles in the ring.
The fight was set for March 8th at Madison Square Gardens billed as "The fight of the century" Ali taunted Fraizer at every opportunity calling him a "Uncle Tom" which upset Joe until his dying day there was a brooding intensity surrounding the fight. Ali always had a glint in his eye previously with his taunts but this time he had gone to far, and Joe vowed to make him pay inside the ring.
He was good to his word defying a death threat of lose or else before the fight Joe would not be denied. The rounds of back and forth action seemed to fly by with Joe seemingly just edging ahead into the championship rounds Ali's legs did not seem as fast as they had years before. Ali however was still a masterful counter puncher who made this fight spectacular until Fraizer uncorked a massive left hook in the 15th and final round sending Ali sprawling to the canvas. He rose at 8 but clearly hurt, hung on until the final bell, Joe surely had done enough.
When the decision was read and Joe Fraizer was declared the winner in a fight that will be remembered for ever he finally put the imposing shadow of Muhammad Ali behind him, for a while at least.