Joe Frazier, the first boxer ever to defeat Muhammad Ali, died Monday after a battle with liver cancer. He was 67.
Mr. Frazier won boxing’s Fight of the Century and then fought Ali nearly to the death in the Thrilla in Manila. Frazier was one of the greatest boxers ever, something that Ali, widely considered the greatest boxer ever, has said publicly.
He knocked Ali down in 15th round at Madison Square Garden in March 1971. No one had ever beaten Ali.
But Ali won the war. Mr. Frazier was forever known as the foil character in protagonist Ali’s story. Ali never let him forget that during their storied careers. Ali taunted him mercilessly, and Mr. Frazier didn’t forgive him for it until much later in life.
Two duo fought three times. Their last fight was Manila in 1975. They traded punches for 14 rounds, until Mr. Frazier’s trained held him back for the final round. Mr. Frazier couldn’t see, his eyes swollen shut.
Mr. Frazier’s battle with cancer was a brief fight, unlike his boxing matches. As recently as September, he was seen signing autographs in Las Vegas.