Boxing great Joe Frazier, who went toe to toe three times with Muhammad Ali, including the famous “Thrilla in Manila” fight, is seriously ill with liver cancer and is in a hospice, his personal and business manager said Saturday. Frazier, 67, is in a Philadelphia facility, manager Leslie Wolff said. The former heavyweight champion was diagnosed just four or five weeks ago.
“He’s a true gentleman,” Wolff said. “Along with Muhammad Ali, (he is) one of the two most recognizable athletes in the world.” Frazier, nicknamed “Smokin’ Joe,” used his devastating left hook with impunity during his professional career, retiring with a 32-4-1 record. Frazier, the son of a South Carolina sharecropper, boxed during the glory days of the heavyweight division, going up against greats George Foreman, Oscar Bonavena, Joe Bugner and Jimmy Ellis. But it was his three much-hyped fights against Ali that helped seal his legend.
Frazier bested Ali at 1971’s “Fight of the Century” at Madison Square Garden. In the 15th round, Frazier landed perhaps the most famous left hook in history, catching Ali on the jaw and dropping the former champ for a four-count, according to Frazier’s bio at the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Frazier left the ring still the champ after handing Ali his first professional defeat. Fans and well-wishers were encouraged to post their thoughts and prayers at joefrazierscorner.com.
We pray that “Smokin’ Joe” will be able to overcome the cancer battle.