Exactly forty years ago today two immortals of the great sport of boxing fought their second legendary battle. Happy 40th anniversary Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier II.
From a serious boxing fans perspective I have always questioned the neck size of anyone that showed little historical interest in the second fight of the Ali/Frazier trilogy. That either of them were done was just nonsense. Even such a schooled sports commentator such as Howard Cossell referred to Smokin Joe’s greatness in the past tense during the lead up commentary to this fight. This was long before Frazier was seen as a “has been” in the lead up to the “Thriller in Manila”. In my opinion people just misunderstood Joe Frazier’s style and mental toughness. If anyone was to going to be resilient against the negative impacts of a nasty KO it was going to be a fighter like Frazier who had just come off exactly that against the monster who was George Forman.
Ali came into this fight having clicked up a little more mileage than he was able to in the run up to their first fight which was set against the back drop of him regaining his boxing license and undergoing a transformation from public enemy number one to national treasure. As a consequence he came in fitter, faster and more conditioned to meet the relentless barrage of pressure that Joe Frazier was always going to bring, even on a bad day.
My view was that this was never a one sided fight and followed a similar script to the first except for the one controversial incident in the early rounds in which someone dinged a fake bell just seconds after Ali had caught Frazier cold with a straight right preventing him from following up in what could have potentially been a KO.
As Ali’s older legs slowed and he was still to perfect his “Rope-a-dope“, Frazier began to smoke as he always did, and began to catch Ali but the non-championship twelve round distance meant it was never enough to level the score cards. Ali got away with what looked to some as a convincing win.
Here is the full original fight footage. Enjoy!