Ali v Frasier
The three fights fought by Muhammad Ali (previously known as Cassius Clay) and Joe Frazier (also known as Smokin Joe Frazier) were arguably the greatest grudge matches in the history of boxing.
The Fight of the Century: Madison Square Garden March 8th 1971
The first fight between the two was billed as the ‘Fight of the Century’ and was held on March 8th 1971 at New York cities Madison Square Garden. This fight transcended boxing as it equally became something of a symbol of two men at war with each other over their own personal beliefs and their differing opinions on the Vietnam War. Ali was anti-war and Frasier was pro, claiming that the country (USA) had been good to him and he would fight if drafted. As Ali had publicly denounced the war and refused to be drafted he had been stripped of his title and not allowed to fight for 3 and half years of his title. As such Joe Frasier was at this time the undisputed heavyweight champion of the World and was at the top of his game.
The fight then was a tough one to call, Ali had always been the classier boxer and showman with far superior speed, agility and reach coupled with one of the best chins in boxing history. Frazier in complete contrast was a touch, scrappy, hard punching, left handed brawler. The fight really was an excellent example of ‘The Boxer versus The Brawler’ and as Ali had been in exile for more than 3 years it seemed to many that the fight might just go Frazier’s way.
The fight exceeded all the hype, going the full distance of 15 rounds. Ali dominated the earlier rounds dancing as usual and throwing jabs at Frazier causing his face to cut and puff up. Rounds 4 5 and 6 saw Frazier start to go to work with his famous hard left hook to Alis head and body. Both fighters were pretty much level pegging until round 11 when Frasier caught his opponent with that crushing left hook of his causing Ali to tumble into the ropes although he did manage to just about survive the round. From this point on though it was all Frazier as he kept on powering forward and at the start of round 15 he managed to land the best punch of the fight, a left hook that seemed to come up almost from the floor which knocked Ali to the canvas. As usual the challenger quickly got to his feet and despite several hard blows being thrown in from Frazier he managed to just about survive until the end of round 15. Moments later the judges decision was announced, Joe Frazier had unified the heavyweight title.
Fight 2 Madison Square Garden New York on January 28, 1974.
This fight was considered by most people as the least significant of the three fights, it was the only non-title fight of the three. Joe Frasier had lost his title in spectacular style to George Foreman and Ali was keen to avenge his loss to Joe Frasier and to then go on to take on a title fight against Foreman. The two fighters appeared on a TV show at ABC studios in New York and after some trash talk started between the two of them a fight broke out which lead to the TV presenters having to pull the two men apart.
In the fight itself, Ali looked much lighter on this feet than in the first fight against Frazier. There were no intense action moments in this fight but Ali danced a lot more, kept himself clear of Fraziers left hook and took a fairly comfortable 12 round decision.
So now the tally stood at one fight apeace. The rivalry between the two great fighters was cemented and everything was no set for fight 3….