Joe Frazier passed away Monday at the age of 67. While Frazier is one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all-time, he will forever be linked to his most bitter rival, Muhammad Ali. In the 1970′s, Frazier and Ali met for three memorable fights, and two are considered among the most famous fights in boxing history. Below are the full videos of the entire trilogy. If you’ve got three hours, you can relive one of the greatest rivalries any sport has ever seen.
Frazier – Ali I – March 8, 1971
We will never see a heavyweight match up like this again. At the time, Frazier was 26-0 and the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Ali was 31-0 and had been the undisputed heavyweight champion before being stripped of his titles when he refused to go to Vietnam. With Ali reinstated and still undefeated the dream fight finally took place. The fight went all 15 rounds with Frazier taking a unanimous decision and handing Ali his first career loss.
Ali-Frazier II – January 28, 1974
Between The Fight of the Century and the rematch at Madison Square Garden, both fighters suffered a loss. Ali dropped a split decision to Ken Norton and Frazier was dropped by George Foreman. With both men defeated, the fight lacked the juice of the first fight. Though an in-studio fight at the Wide World of Sports must have raised the interest just a bit.
Ali would go on to avenge his first loss by decision. The truth is, it didn’t matter how good Ali-Frazier II was, when compared to the two fights it was sandwiched in between, how could it be remembered with proper reverence.
Frazier – Ali III – October 1, 1975
While their first fight may be the best fight of all-time, this is the most famous. Ali badgered and taunted Frazier non-stop leading up to their final fight. The bout was another classic, with Frazier’s corner throwing in the towel seconds before Ali was ready to quit. Ali won the fight and the series and would go down as the Greatest of All Time, with Ali himself calling Frazier the second greatest.
Frazier would have just two more fights in his career. He retired with a 32-4-1 career record with 27 of his wins coming by knockout. Ali would win his next 6 fights and finish his career with a 7-3 run, but would never have a fight that mattered as much as any of his classic bouts with Frazier.
Following the Thrilla In Manila, Ali finally paid Frazier the respect he deserved.
I must be crazy. I always bring out the best in the men I fight, but Joe Frazier, I’ll tell the world right now, brings out the best in me. I’m gonna tell ya, that’s one helluva man, and God bless him.
Ali – Frazier. Frazier – Ali. Without one, the other may never have been as great.