It was recently announced that former heavyweight champion Smokin' Joe Frazier had been admitted to a Philadelphia hospice suffering from cancer of the liver. Now, the man who buttoned the Louisville Lip has gone to that great boxing ring in the sky as his old foe paid tribute to him.
A retrospective of Smokin' Joe's career can be found here
, but the meeting of defending champion Joe Frazier and former champion Ali at the world famous Madison Square Garden on March 8, 1971 was the first time two undefeated heavyweight champions had fought for the title, and unlike the disgraceful spectacle of Tyson v Spinks 17 years later when Spinks was slaughtered in 91 seconds like a frightened chicken, the two men put on a show that lived up to the hype as the fight of the century, with Smokin' Joe winning a gruelling 15 round decision, knocking down Ali in the final round - not knocking him out as claimed erroneously on the BBC Breakfast
news programme this morning.
His victory over Ali was as good as it got for Smokin' Joe; he would lose the rematch and the rubber match, and suffer two ignominious defeats at the hands of George Foreman, but these two great champions were the only men ever to beat him, and both paid tribute to him shortly after his death. Foreman's tribute can be found here
; Ali's here
Smokin' Joe Frazier, former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, (1944-2011).