Fights That Shook The World: Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad Ali I

Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad Ali

The Fight of the Century between champion Joe Frazier (26-0, 23 KOs) and Muhammad Ali (31-0, 26 KOs), took place March 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Such hyperbole is scarcely novel in the promotion business – though this bout was just that – a timeous collision of two strains of the American generational armageddon that was undeniably detonating throughout an increasingly stratified social order.

Ali – anti-establishment. Poster child for the 60s counter culture. Flashy. Far from low-key.  Frazier – conservative, pro-war. Throwback to an earlier era of the American story – understated, safe, the Old Guard’s choice. This become the underlying & at times overbearing simplified narrative in the build up to what was increasingly morphing into so much more than a mere contest of sporting prowess. Frazier vs Ali was one part prizefight & many-fold generational tipping point. To be sure these remain two historically significant heavyweight boxing talents though their first meeting’s significance was to be exponentially amplified within the global consciousness as a product of the time in modern social history at which they were fated to collide.

“And I went up to President Nixon to let his license go free, so we can get it on. And (Nixon) said, ‘Joe, do you think you can take him?’ “I said, ‘I got him in my back pocket.’ I told the president that.” Joe Frazier

In Chicago rioting broke out with an entire movie theater torn apart by angry fans who were informed they would not be able to watch the Ali-Frazier bout on closed-circuit television.

Tale of the Tape

  • Frazier 205.5 lbs (93 kg) vs. Ali 215 lbs (97.5 kg)
  • Frazier 5′ 11½″ (182cm) vs Ali 6′ 3″ (191cm)
  • Reach Frazier 73″ (185cm) vs. Ali 78″ (198cm)

Referee Arthur Mercante would later insist the following dialoque took place between the two fighters:
You know, you’re in here with the God tonight” – Ali to Frazier.
If you are God, you’re in the wrong place tonight” – Frazier’s stoic response.

The fight indirectly led to four curious deaths: Two fans at Madison Square Garden itself died of heart attacks during the course of the fight. An Italian man was found dead in front of his television just hours after viewing the fight on TV . Meanwhile in Malaysia, a man was said to have jumped up from his chair while watching the fight on television and exclaimed, “My God, Cassius Clay has fallen!” He suffered a heart attack & died.

“I love people. I know there are people who don’t love me. I might have caused a lot of people a lot of pain because they lost money on my fights, because they backed the wrong man. The boxing world is hard. It’s hard on everybody. It was hard on me, and it was hard on everybody, including Muhammad.” Joe Frazier

To the scorecards we go…

Unofficial Associated Press: 9-5-1 Frazier
Unofficial United Press International: 7-7-1 Draw

Judge: Artie Aidala 9-6 Frazier | Judge: Bill Recht 11-4 Frazier| Judge: Arthur Mercante 8-6 Frazier

All for the winner… & still heavyweight champion of the world – Smokin’ Joe Frazier!

Matt Hamilton, for ESNewsReporting!

Matt Hamilton

Matt Hamilton: Media Shake Down Straight Outta Cape Town. The Seckbach Aftermath.