Former heavyweight boxing champion, Joe Frazier died last night of liver cancer. The 67-year-old prizefighter, known as “Smokin’ Joe,” suffered his fatal defeat, while under the care of a Philadelphia hospice.
Frazier, who also was diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure, dealt with his health issues just as he did against every opponent that he faced inside the ring, he courageously fought until the final bell.
Although Frazier compiled an impressive career record of 32 wins, 27 by knockout, and only 4 losses, he found himself shadow boxing in the silhouette of his nemesis, the much more celebrated Muhammad Ali. Frazier’s hard-nosed humility and blue collared image was eclipsed by Ali’s flair, personality, style, and color making Muhammad the much more popular and prolific champion of the two.
Frazier and Ali would face each other three times during their careers with Ali winning two, but Joe beating Muhammad at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 1971 in a bout billed as the “Fight of the Century” and handing Ali his first professional defeat. During the 15th round of that classic bout, Frazier would land his signature, devastating left hook, which would send Ali crashing to the canvas. Ali would manage to get up, but lose a unanimous decision to Frazier.
Muhammad Ali said in a statement, “The world has lost a great champion. I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration. My sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones.”