Legendary Joe Frazier loses fight with cancer
AFPPHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania -- Joe Frazier, the former undisputed heavyweight champ famed for his epic fights against Muhammad Ali, died on Monday after a brief but brave battle with liver cancer. He was 67.
November 9, 2011, 12:35 am TWN
The family issued a news release confirming Frazier's death late Monday night.
The boxing icon won an Olympic gold medal in a brilliant career that spanned almost 20 years, but he was best known for fighting Ali in a famed 1970s trilogy of bouts, including the epic “Thrilla in Manila.”
He had been under home care after being diagnosed a couple of weeks ago with the advanced liver cancer that took his life, a family friend said.
“I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration,” Ali said in a statement. “My sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones.”
Frazier, nicknamed “Smokin' Joe,” captured two major heavyweight titles while taking on all comers, including Ali, George Foreman, Jerry Quarry, Joe Bugner, Oscar Bonavena and George Chuvalo.
Frazier was a huge part of the heyday of boxing's heavyweight division in the 1970s. He finished his storied career with 32 wins (27 knockouts), four losses and one draw.
His four losses came at the hands of just two other legendary fighters from that era: Ali and Foreman.
Manny Pacquiao heard the news after arriving Monday night in Las Vegas for his title fight against Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday.
“Boxing lost a great champion, and the sport lost a great ambassador,” Pacquiao said. “My prayers go out to his family.”
Frazier was the first man to defeat Ali, with a unanimous 15-round decision in 1971 at Madison Square Garden, in what was dubbed the “Fight of the Century.”
An estimated 300 million people around the world watched the fight on television.
Frazier's business manager Leslie Wolff said that fight has passed down through three generations and caused Frazier's fan base to skyrocket.
“If you look into the history of what took place, there is a lot of emotion,” said Wolff. “When you have a legend, people respond to a legend.”
Frazier and Ali went on to fight twice more.