Joe Frazier, a tough, underrated heavyweight boxer from Philadelphia and one of the sport’s fiercest competitors who spent a lifetime playing second fiddle to his nemesis, Muhammad Ali, died Monday night from liver cancer. Frazier was 67.
Frazier was diagnosed with cancer in late September, said his personal and business manager, Leslie Wolff. He had made several personal appearances since then.
Though there was lingering animosity between Frazier and Ali for more than 40 years, their names became synonymous with each other. Ali and Frazier. Frazier and Ali. It was almost as if you couldn’t say one without the other, said boxing historian Bert Randolph Sugar, who covered their amazing trilogy of fights in the 1970s.
Frazier, who was known as “Smokin’ Joe,” was the first fighter to defeat Ali, putting the loquacious “Louisville Lip” on the canvas with his signature vicious left hook during their first fight, the so-called “Fight of the Century” in Madison Square Garden on March 8, 1971, one of the most epic ring battles of all time. Frazier went on to win by unanimous decision.
Both fighters were paid an unheard of sum of $2.5 million, far more than any boxer had ever been paid for a prize fight.
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