Smokin’ Joe, as he was fondly known, was a former world heavyweight boxing champion and the first man to beat Muhammad Ali. Ali and Frazier would be inextricably linked when Frazier floored Ali in the last round of ‘The Fight of the Century’ with his much-feared left hook when they fought for the first time for the world heavyweight title in 1971. This compelling rivalry would continue with a further two bouts; the final of this trilogy of encounters, the epic and brutal ‘Thrilla in Manila’, is still considered to be the greatest fight of all time.
Boxing commentator John Rawling poignantly writes:
‘He may have lost in Manila, and “great” can be an overused word in sport, but Frazier showed that there can be greatness in defeat, and his contribution to boxing will never be forgotten.’
Billy Joe Frazier: born 12 January 1944; died 7 November 2011